Where Were You in March 2020? Two Unpredictable Years, Three Huge Shifts

The past few years have been defined by rapid change. While some of these shifts have been expected, others have been entirely unpredictable. But what's next?

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Image: Janis Abolins, Shutterstock

Due to a combination of expected advancements, surprise changes, and—let’s be real—outright chaos, the tech world landscape of today little resembles what it looked like just two years ago. And while few would argue against the notion that change is constant in the tech world, the last two years have really been something altogether different. Let’s take a moment to consider some of these changes, along with a few predictions for what we can expect moving forward. 

1. A sudden shift to remote work culture

Where were you in March 2020? Here in Seattle, tech companies were some of the first to respond to the outbreak with a work from home policy, with much of the country soon following suite. For a long while, our beautiful and bustling Seattle was an eerily quiet ghost town — shop owners boarded up their windows and doors, any and all events were canceled, and no indoor seating was entirely forbidden. (Add to this picture a thick dose of wildfire smoke and things looked downright apocalyptic!) One of the world’s greatest tech hubs had in a span of weeks completely froze in place. Seattle had entered into an unprecedented lockdown. 

During this time, a massive transition to work from home culture officially sprouted in Seattle, and this also soon spread to the rest of the country. Sure, at my old company, we had a work-from-home day once a week, but it was only in response to the pandemic that we became a truly remote operation. And our situation was by no means unique: Most tech companies responded in the same way. 

Initially, one wouldn’t have to look far to find companies talking about the pandemic as if it were a temporary setback, and some companies got into the habit of issuing ever-delayed plans to return employees to their old, in-office seats. Yet it was soon clear that COVID-19 was a worldwide pandemic that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and that every industry in every corner of the globe would be impacted by its spread. Work-from-home was here to stay. 

2. Mass adoption of new tech solutions

For many companies, this sudden shift to work-from-home was not only culturally jarring, but it presented major challenges to day-to-day operations. Many companies were not at all prepared for a shift to remote operations. 

With this shift from office-first to remote or hybrid work came yet another evolution of tech world workplace culture, most visibly impacting how individuals communicate with one another. Seemingly overnight, apps like Zoom and Slack became household names, and many a couch and coffee table came to stand in for a desk and chair. The phrase getting on Zoom had entered the lexicon in a manner comparable to the use of Google as a verb. Many began experiencing a phenomenon known as Zoom dysmorphia. The world beheld the glory of Zoom Cat. 

During the early days of this transition, improvisation was key. Teams that once met regularly in person found themselves experiencing something of a culture shock in response to the comparative complexities of video conferencing and new, often unfamiliar collaboration platforms. Stakeholders at all levels needed to find new ways to deliver one-on-ones, provide feedback, make productivity assessments, and just about every other aspect of their roles. And all of these shifts occurred during a particular period of uncertainty and instability. The concept of “business-as-usual” had simply vanished. 

3. The arrival of the No-Code Revolution

This was a fertile time for company innovation and experimentation simply because they had no other choice. Many companies were suddenly thinking outside of the box in ways that seemed nearly impossible to fathom just a year or two before. Instead of the gradual series of changes that preceded the pre-COVID-19 pandemic shift, tech companies moved at warp speed to find reliable solutions and implementation seemed to occur just as quickly. Truly, necessity is the mother of invention. 

This period also greatly accelerated the introduction of a shift that had been brewing for some time: The No-Code Revolution. No-code platforms increasingly allow team members to complete tasks that previously required extensive coding knowledge and therefore could only be performed by specialists. This shift has permanently changed the very DNA of how many tech companies operate, and has proven to be another exceptionally useful shift for companies to continue to benefit from in the post-pandemic landscape. 

While to date only receiving intermittent media attention, the shift to no-code has been a longtime in the making, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly amplified the embrace of low-code and no-code solutions. An ongoing staffing crunch associated with the pandemic has also led to teams rethinking their approaches, intensifying the need to move specialists to higher level projects wherever possible. 

A glance into the crystal ball

Ask a group of meteorologists about predicting the future, and they’ll tell you that every prediction comes with plenty of caveats. Predicting the future is tough. However, when it comes to work-from-home, it would seem that the cat is out of the bag: Tech companies now commonly conduct business in a remote or hybrid framework—a direct result of the pandemic.  

Second, many companies, even those previously resistant to change, have embraced all sorts of new platforms, and many new platforms have popped up in response to their needs. Judging by our internal data, we at Sofy only expect this to continue into the foreseeable future.

Third, no-code solutions are only getting started. No-code platforms are popping up in a wide variety of contexts, from artificial intelligence to mortgage lending. Every day seems to indicate a greater and greater shift toward no-code possibilities that allow anyone to complete tasks that were once the domain of specialists, and these platforms are only growing more advanced and powerful. As with all great shifts, early adapters in particular stand to benefit.

 

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