Benefits and Limitations of Remote Work to LGBTQIA+ Software Professionals
Background. The mass transition to remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected software professionals, who abruptly shifted into ostensibly temporary home offices. The effects of this transition on these professionals are complex, depending on the particularities of the context and individuals. Recent studies advocate for remote structures to create opportunities for many equity-deserving groups; however, remote work can also be challenging for some individuals, such as women and individuals with disabilities. As the discussions on equity, diversity, and inclusion increase in software engineering, it is essential to explore the realities and perspectives of different equity-deserving groups to develop strategies that can support them post-pandemic. Objective. This study aims to investigate the effects of remote work on LGBTQIA+ software professionals. Method. A grounded theory approach was applied based on information collected from two primary sources: a survey questionnaire with a sample of 57 LGBTQIA+ software professionals and nine follow-up interviews with individuals from this sample. This sample included professionals of different genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and experience levels. Consistent with grounded theory methodology, the process of data collection and analysis was conducted iteratively using three stages of coding: line-by-line focused, and theoretical. Member checking was used to validate the findings obtained from interpreting the experiences commented on by LGBTQIA+ software professionals. Findings. Our findings demonstrate that (1) remote work benefits LGBTQIA+ people by increasing security and visibility; (2) remote work harms LGBTQIA+ software professionals through isolation and invisibility; (3) the benefits outweigh the drawbacks; (4) the drawbacks can be mitigated by supportive measures developed by software companies. Conclusion. This paper investigated how remote work can affect LGBTQIA+ software professionals and presented a set of recommendations on how software companies can address the benefits and limitations associated with this work model. In summary, we concluded that remote work has a crucial role in increasing diversity and inclusion in the software industry.