Is Colocation Still Relevant to Agile?

As 2020 has undoubtedly been the watershed year for remote work, I've been thinking a lot lately about colocation and its relevance to Agile.

When the principles of the Agile Manifesto were written in 2001, the authors believed in the importance of colocation:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

I was curious to know what Agile thought-leaders were making of the remote work phenomenon these days, and if the idea of colocation was still imperative to them.

Martin Fowler, one of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto, makes the point that although face-to-face communication is more effective, a more important concern is to hire the best people you can and figure out how to make their collaboration more efficient later:

The first value of the agile manifesto is “Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools”, which we should read as encouraging us to prioritize getting the best people we can on the team and helping them work well together. While we recognize face-to-face communication is more effective, that recognition cannot act to override the importance of individuals and interactions.

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.

It's interesting to think about this topic in the "necessity is the mother of invention" vein. When we all presupposed that a daily commute to the same physical building with your coworkers was the normal thing to do, we had best practices that presupposed that requirement.

In the current climate, we're all presupposing that work will carry on as normal with no one commuting anywhere and all communication being digital. What best practices will emerge in this world? Will the primacy of hiring good people quickly obliterate the former primacy of physical proximity in these conditions, with the world quickly moving on?