In honour of the 20 year anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, each monthly blog this year will focus on one of the twelve principles.
"The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation."
This principle has many people questioning its validity especially since the start of COVID with many people working from home. Some people find that they're more productive working from home and the travel time they no longer incur is put to better use. In fact, some people see no need to go back to the office at all post-COVID.
So it begs the question, is face-to-face that important?
Alistair Cockburn offers a modification. He suggests the most effective communication channel is face-to-face at a whiteboard.
Some on-shore/off-shore teams that speak different languages prefer to communicate over instant messaging options (e.g. Slack). For example, team members that aren't fluent in English sometimes find it easier to communicate English, written vs. orally.
While pair programming can be done in a distributed fashion, most people would suggest that it's more effective face-to-face.
With all of that said, the principle is specific in that the context is 'within a development team'. While there are differing opinions on this principle, the importance of face-to-face cannot be understated. An addendum (like Cockburn's) certainly seems applicable. But to suggest that a team working in isolation produces better results does not seem realistic. They may get through their individual work faster. But it's kind of like saving integration/testing for the end. It's highly risky.