Since you are tenured and "have no boss", why don't you try being more assertive. Stake out your territory and growl at all intruders. Adopt a persona with more ego. Make wilder claims and deliver those papers, etc.
From what I have seen of European industry, there are many favorable situations for industry - academia collaborations. You could identify areas where your specialization can deliver desired results and contact companies in your area in relation to establishing R&D collaborations. In many cases, there are government subsidies and grants which make it even more enticing for industry partners.
You haven't mentioned if your job is toxic or not; if it is toxic then definitely finding something better is immediately recommended as nothing is more valuable than's one's health and sanity.
What I see as a good way out is to find ways to minimise the time you spend managing relationships with people if you really think they are a time sink. Or compartmentalise it such that it gives you those focused hours to work on the things that matter. What do other successful associate professors do? Speak to them if you haven't.
And I think you are painting a very positive picture of software engineering jobs. In fact except for initial grades, once you transition into staff/principal grades you will again end up spending a lot of your time managing the relationships with people (stakeholders, your manager, your junior engineers etc). And being very good at programming is a necessary but not sufficient trait even in good companies which minimise dysfunctional politics. You can easily deduce what's more important where dysfunctional politics is rampant.
I would second the option to take a leave of absence for a year, but speak with a few select people but in detail actually doing the roles in different companies you find interesting and then take the leave of absence if it's worth it. My bet most likely is that the results of experiment will say to minimise the negatives at your current workplace than starting from scratch. Either ways, Good luck!
Maybe there are some alternatives you could try? Many universities offer the opportunity of a leave of absence for a year (or possibly more), so you could try out something else without having to fear losing your job - of course, your publication and funding record will still suffer, but this is maybe not so critical since you already have tenure.
Another idea might be to use some of the ideas from your research and try to commercialize them in a startup - perhaps together with some of your students? If this works well, you could also apply for a reduction of your position at the university to spend more time at the startup.
Also, applying for a position at a different university (possibly in a different country) might be an idea? Of course, this might be a less attractive option considering you just bought a house.
Long answer: I work as a software developer/data scientist in a company and I would commit murder to get into academia in a field that interests me. If the pay is okay and I can just focus on what I want - that's the dream. Like another comment says: Fight for your own resources (time) and make it clear when you want to work and when you're open for administration, etc. You're already in the best position to be able to do meaningful work.
I am also in academia but in a field that is not CS related and we get visiting professors all the time. You should do some research and see if you could apply for any research grants/fellowships in different countries or at least different universities in your area. You seem to be quite burned out by the drama at your institution and changing your environment could be beneficial. Just because things are managed poorly at your institution does not mean they are done equally poorly elsewhere.
You might be better off making a list of causes you care about and reaching out to some charities/NGOs/non-profits/community organisations and seeing if they have any positions available that match your skillset. Alternatively attend some conferences or otherwise reach out to C-Level suite and see if you can identify some problems they have that you might be able to code a solution for. I imagine they would probably jump at the chance to get a tenured computer science professor as part of their tech team.
Alternatively, try setting some boundaries. Send an email saying you will only be replying to emails within two hourly windows each day (have a read of Deep Work by Cal Newport for more on this). Find an off-site work space, work from coffee shops or work from home to avoid unexpected visitors. Attend meetings remotely: if most of it is irrelevant you can work on other tasks simultaneously in a way you can't socially get away with in in-person meetings. Take a few hours or even days before responding to any instant messages - a lot of the time people will end up finding another way to solve their problems. Delegate any tasks you can to an assistant if you've got one.
Colleague: "I have an exciting new idea to design a new underwater basket-weaver!"
You: "Thanks. Sounds interesting, I'm afraid I'm rather tied up at the moment."
Colleague: "But if we build this, then agency XXX will give us $YYY in grant funding!"
You: "Sounds great. I have too many commitments right now, but good luck!"
Colleague: "I don't think you're seeing the opportunity here. Just imagine blah blah blah."
You: "Sounds exciting. I'm sure it will be a big success. Best wishes on your project!"
Colleague: "But... but..."
You: "Thanks again for the invitation. If you'd please excuse me, I have to go back to work." [Put head down and return to your own work]
You say you love working with people -- are there enough people whom you do like, that you can focus on working with them?
Beginning with working in a startup might be an option. After a year or two industry experience, you can apply to bigger companies.
Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of EU universities like that, sometimes worse. Politics, politics, politics … literary killing each other for status, power and positions. Many of them couldn’t solve their own homework problems.
Curious, which country?
Reading your post - it seems to me that you are not happy with kind of collegues/peers you are working with ("someone has to cover for someone else, people with larger ego can get other to do part of their job").
Whether you stay in academia or go to industry - you are likely to encounter the same problem depending upon the quality of peers around you.
If you are passionate about research, try moving towards top-tier european universities/labs (ecole polytechnique, tum). I feel that the research is more directed and you will have better peers.
The thing you lose leaving academia is freedom to work on whatever you want. What you gain is as you say a group of smart people working towards a common goal. About 20% of my team have PhDs! I now make more money 2 years in than I would have at Assistant Professor level. I also work remotely which means I can live where I want to and not where the university is. Overall I’m very glad I made the jump.
If you decide to do it I would say don’t rush into it and take some time to find the right position working with people you will enjoy working with.
On a more serious note, why don't you just do the bare minimal on your job as they say (I heard it virtually impossible to get fired from an EU job anyway) and become a consultant? Test the waters to see how it feels to have someone tell you to code stuff up and if the grass really is greener.
Separately, why not just set healthy boundaries? Just block off your calendar for a "personal work meeting" and get what you want done, and then help the snowflakes.
Having an office and people knocking on your door is strictly superior to sitting in an open plan office and having people tapping you on your shoulder all the time. And four hours of uninterrupted coding time? Forget it.
# think evil
introspection first of all I don't know what is the most beautiful, I don't know how much I don't know what is heaven But I have some basic experiences and lessons learned: Self-realization and discovery are deeper than the preaching and teaching of others. As a human being I still believe in some stubborn perceptions that sunshine is better than always night. Then freedom is better than being controlled everywhere, and patience is better than always being impatient. So it is better to have kind words than bad ones. It is better to keep an agreement than to break your word.
# the reslut I do not know if the world is is really too many programmers? so the env badly more and more. but here have some really base rule i believe: 1 people integration with even little interest, better only mandatory rule, that was really old summary 2 company manager in advantageous status, they can change the rule with their intent, employee just obey? how can employee face that in industrial society. 3 I agree the boss need talk them goals and intentions very clearly, that is why the employee work for them. but they can not horses, even spiritual. such as monitor and long time work, violence, argue. 4 they people who work as engineer and insist for that, they are must be love that, not hate for that at least. if they can give some remuneration on work, thats a good things. jut do not make life more hard. even love some work, that may be useed by boss for free work.
does not know the supreme good, to what extent does not know the good If bad words had good results, there would be no wars. there do not have analyze and preaching, just experience and organize i have worked for different company, for beginner, i do not know so much danger and unbearable. first of all, some project only can live three month or more short. so that, "the company" need more project and more employee time work for that. if you have some intermediary introduce work to you, we need pay some attention on contract, company need abide by that. otherwise maybe employee need work 16hours and more. you can not give remuneration at last. so that, you will doubt the similar people, otherwise, you need be asked for specialty screening, just for some work. south aisa, work for 9 hours everyday is every normal. I know that's hell if compared with a professor work. and you would may be robbed because poor and tough survival environment. so that, the employee will face two reality: bad boss(language violence,even fight and low remuneration). poor environment and danger social environment. the problem of persistence there company unique or non-health help plan, and aways though more request work. in that situation, no body can in priority. so there just have more work to do, and low guarantee. otherwise, the company have resource and manpower governance , even bribe gov. thats why gov aways stand with company, they are interest community. where is the future? a professor chould be have a good position in any company(more higher discipline than normal worker) in a good company. in the dark side, the bad company will have more strice env for live or just die. right? the reasons of bad company 1 corporate enterprise too much negative news, new employee worked very clarefully, 2 so that, bad boss and employee mutual protection, even can not give normal working results 3 managers are missing good skills. unreasonable rules lead to resentment, and they are not intend to change. 4 too greedy, allocation is uneven. 5 malignant interaction, language violence,even fight and low remuneration, more work, no freedom. we must work with evil or not? as those situation, such as monitor employees and reject payment (becacuse those bad rule.) even than, they do not want employee provide products and services, they just torture. we need to live, what we can do? the quality of the manager is too bad, but the employee must be under its management...
do some more chat: [email protected]