Integration Is Communication

Kent Beck wrote a tweet recently that had me nodding my head:


I feel like this is a lesson one only learns while working for a large corporation. At this scope, there’s so much work to be done, and so many groups of people involved, that the most acute pain is always felt at the integration points.

The obvious solution is “better communication.” More meetings, more emails, more documentation, more complicated forms one group fills out to communicate its needs to the others. The cure seems worse than the disease.

What’s the real solution? I’m not sure there is one.

Martin Fowler, Perks, and Remote Work

In my post, Remote Work Denial Is a Bad Look, I argued thusly:

You can think face-to-face, in-person communication is most efficient, and I won't argue with you, but it ultimately doesn't matter as the remote work trend will not be stopped.

Figure out how you're going to make remote work effective for your company and then shout it from the rooftops.

In a recent article, Remote versus Co-located Work, Martin Fowler presents a level-headed take on remote work in which he arrives at roughly the same conclusion:

Most groups of people will be more effective when working co-located due to the richer communications they have.

Despite the fact that I think most teams would be more productive working co-located, you will often get a more effective team by embracing some form of distributed model because it will widen the talent pool of people you can get.

The fact that you can get a better team by supporting a remote working pattern has become increasingly important during my time in the software business and I expect its importance to keep growing. I sense a growing reluctance amongst the best developers to accept the location and commuting disadvantages of single-site work. This is increasingly true as people get more experienced, and thus more valuable. You can either try to ignore this and accept the best people who will relocate for you, or you can explore how to make remote working patterns more effective. I think that organizations that are able to make remote working patterns effective will have a significant and growing competitive advantage.

Remote work is certainly not easy to get right, but it is nevertheless possible, and it represents a very desirable perk. Just as you could easily make the argument that it’s silly for employers to be responsible for the health insurance coverage of the people that work for them, try going out and hiring great people while telling them that you don’t offer health insurance (and good health insurance). How long will it be before companies have a similar difficulty hiring good knowledge workers because they don’t offer the perk of remote work?