Prior to the global pandemic lockdown and the time where we all collectively lost our minds, businesses were adamant about informing develoers about how little they trusted them and tha remote work was often a priviledge of the C suites’ royal blessing. Being in a domestically distributed company I was able to work remotely earlier in my career. In my mid 20s as a registered introvert, it had many benefits and downsides. The benefits were great in the ability to travel alongside work. The downsides were social isolation personal responsibility maintaining social hygine, and a lack of a local network to discuss work related behaviors. Some days, I didn’t leave the house, this was especially the case when the weather went into the far negatives in Chicago.

The organization that I was working in in early 2020 had a Chicago outpost office. Their formal office was outside of the city was was not approachable for those who lived in the city. They organized this particularly to have a formal meeting place during planning sessions, entertaining clients, and to keep/attract talent. Also, this was the days of where businesses encouraged everyone to cough on each other to and to share sicknesses via their formal open mouth office policy. Culturally, the office culture was a hybrid setup, come in 4 days work from home 1 day.

In Feburary 2020, our HR group took the entire Chicago office asside made an insinuation about the future of our jobs if we didn’t start coming in to he office more. They talked about “how low their badge count was.” These were serious times, that they really wanted to see a non-revenue KPI hit. 1 March came arround, the lead above me and I started getting pretty nervious and took a percautionary measure to work from home that week. 8ish March 2020, the western world annoucned simulatneous to encourage distancing due to the new fastly spreading virus. The comapny annoucned that they were paying attention to the news, made statements to encourage people to identify themselves as “essential”, and encouraged people to work from home. A week later, there was a policy where we could not come into the office withut a lot of process and demonstrating a need. Our physical testers even had a 1 person in a room policy. Soon, they were offering “zoom classes”. This was quite the wihplash.

Outside of my worklace, the market just crashed hard due to the panic of an aggressive change. Some people were proactively laid off, other organizations claimed they needed to cut salaries for their benefit to help the finances of the company. Within a month or so, the software industry calme down and was in a rhythm of working remotely. Tickets were getting done quicker, devs were able to focus easier, and we started having conversations sorrounding burn out and working late more often. It was a weird time.

But, not all things want to run in a stable and smooth manner

After the market bounced back pretty quickly. Companies started treating developer hirers like pokemon and we had a market rush. Organizations worked with the expectation of running with an instanteous starting velocity of what we had seen before, they then got jealous of the other organizations’ hires and started to ramp up the market. The Tier 1 companies hired a ton of the talent. THe salaries went up. FAANG started trying to compete for labor.

Thoughts on “the good days” and what happened afterwards (2022+)

Technology wise, we didn’t have any improvements that really drove the market. JIRA was/is stil the default ticketing system. We still dealt with splitting up work into 2 week segments. The biggest downside is that we didn’t have as many developers who attempted to prove their way up the latter by being socially aggressive. All communication was nearly done so in an accountable way. It’s hard to get away with bullying over text. (Although some tried) The biggest difference I saw was that we were offered easier expensing for training material and had access to tools that helped us succeed at our job.

Now, it’s weird to hear business speak of the times of 2020-2022 as if we had “the golden days.” It’s spoken to us as if we were wellfare queens driving a pre-purchased older Mercades buying milk and bread on food stamps. They’re the Fox news acting with outrage. During the time of the higher market demand, yes salaries went up. But so did the world arround us. The stubborn imposed market ceiling for salaries was removed. The cost of living went up drastically. Some of the expectations and the tolerence to keep us at the organization went down. The workers, for the most part, weren’t hired to have a guarenteed job. There was always an expectation to work and get things done, even if it was migrating legacy Jira installations to the cloud.

However, the expectations to deliever and to deliver something based on time, raher than quality still remained. Being a seroius engineer continued to be an issue. We were still expected to deliever, and to deliver on low quality. Many organizations, continued to encourage management to remain as toxic before involving performance and demands. The only thing changed here was the salary. You still had management that would ask “what did you do for me 5 minutes prior”, and they were always attempting to pretend that you were going to “deliever.” The labor market’s response was to move to another company. (This was labeled as “the great resignation”) Managment and company’s responses to the Great Resignation was:

  • Throw a pizza party
  • Sometimes to offer equity wtih strings attached
  • Deny the culture and environment was unstable
  • Load up more work on the people who hadn’t left the organization yet
  • Try to abuse the legal system from the workers leaving the company. (Nurses in Wisonsin had some serious legal threats that made it to court because they left for a better organization)

A lot of these things are completely self-imposed. Soon, the tech market blindly followed a billinoarie’s lead to just fire everyone. Currently, we’ll see how long this lasts and hopefully we’ll get the doors back on the planes.