I read this great little blog post called "Trying to Notice What's Missing." It's not real long and it's worth your time. If you'd like a TLDR, the author points out how in-person meetings at conferences resulted in enhancements to open source software due to superior, in-person, communication.
Strictly on a personal level, I miss conferences. As much as I'm an introvert (and I actually am), I do enjoy meeting people. That is all, understandably, on hold. However, I'd like to step away from the personal.
Like the author of the post above, I'm curious how we'll be able to tell what was lost due to the lack of in-person communications. Sure, Zoom meetings, Teams, etc., allow for communication, above and beyond Slack or email. However, study after study shows that these online meetings are less effective than direct, in-person communications. People don't learn as well remotely as they do in person. It has to do with distractions, the medium itself, and just how we, jumped up monkeys that we are, best communicate. In-person, is superior.
We've just spent over a year with inferior communications within IT and development. I can't help but ask the same question as the other author. What did we miss? How will we spot what's missing? Have there been solutions, breakthroughs or bug fixes that have not been accomplished, but would have been? Are these simply delayed, or have we missed a few opportunities, permanently? What would the people who have been lost contributed?
I'm sorry to say, all I have here are questions. I don't know the answer to any of those questions. Not at all. However, I do find thinking about it to be interesting. As the Covid crisis slowly begins to recede in the rearview mirror, I'm left wondering, is there a way to measure what's just not there?