The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in burnout among software developers. According to a study conducted by Haystack Analytics, a firm that focuses on engineer productivity, 83% of software developers experience burnout. The primary causes cited for this exhaustion are excessive workloads (47%), inefficiencies in processes (31%), and ambiguity in objectives and targets (29%).
Most areas of human activity have had to rely on technology to remain productive during the coronavirus pandemic, including implementing telework. For the most part, businesses saw significant productivity gains in 2020, directly related to the widespread use of telework. Some are even anticipating a total productivity gain of 17% over the next two to three years. In addition, through telework, 88% have realized savings on real estate expenses over the past year.
Similarly, 92% expect further savings in the next two to three years. However, has maintaining or increasing productivity during the Covid-19 pandemic been to the chagrin of developers? This is what Haystack Analytics found in its latest report on the well-being of software engineers since the onset of the health crisis nearly two years ago. According to Haystack Analytics, burnout worsened during the pandemic, as the study found that 83% of software developers suffer from burnout.
But still, 81% of developers report an increase in burnout due to the pandemic. The main reason developers cited for their feeling of exhaustion during the pandemic is the increased workload. In addition to this, they cited other reasons such as process inefficiency (31%) and the lack of clarity of objectives and targets (29%). The study also reveals that 83% of developers are concerned about the reliability of software in their workplace, 20% of which are largely concerned about software reliability.
“Little is known about the well-being of software engineers during the pandemic or the evolution of technology teams. This study represents the first attempt in this direction.
From burnout to productivity, we sought to understand the state of software engineering in 2021. The fieldwork for this study was completed at a remarkable speed from June 23 to 24, 2021. To achieve this, we partnered with the research agency Survation,” wrote Haystack Analytics in its report.
“Whether it’s keeping us connected or building vaccine reservation systems, software developers have played a key role during the pandemic.
The results show that developer burnout is much worse than I had imagined when I designed this study. Given the increasingly important role software plays in society and the high level of concern developers have about the reliability of software in their workplace,” said Junade Ali, the IT scientist who led the research exercise.
This raises serious concerns about the quality of software that plays an important role in our daily lives and in critical national infrastructure,” he added. According to the report, 20% of engineers suffering from burnout attributed the cause to "unreliable software". About 55% indicated that they were frequently delayed in their work due to process inefficiencies, to a "significant" or "moderate" extent. For example, 31% of engineers experiencing burnout attributed process inefficiency to this cause.
It is interesting to note that only 26% of software developers surveyed work exclusively on product development. About 74% work on operations in one form or another, even though that’s part of their job. Indeed, the study reports that 44% of software engineers are in hybrid roles. It also notes that technology remains the engine of high-growth firms. For example, the technology-driven Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust grew 151.37% over a 3-year period as of July 1, 2021.
This would represent the strongest 3-year performance of all FTSE 100 companies. In addition, Haystack Analytics explained that the importance of well-being is underlined by the number of developers needed to support the growing technology industry. According to a report, there are about 408,000 software developers in the U.K. alone. By 2024, the global population of software developers is expected to reach 28.7 million. Kathryn Koehler, Director of Developer Productivity at Netflix, commented on the study, “It’s a good set of questions.”
According to Koehler, the results show that “the productivity of a team cannot be measured by a single indicator” and “it is important to measure the well-being of the team alongside the productivity indicators.” She went on to explain that Netflix was beginning to develop its own approach to measuring the productivity of developers in-house, in “starting small, but starting with something that has an impact; and then not stopping there – continuing to think about productivity, satisfaction and other things in context.”
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