How has productivity changed over the course of the pandemic?
Three years into the pandemic, the future of work is still uncertain. Companies continue to set shifting hybrid work mandates, often trying to pull more employees back into the office.
With our 2023 Future of Work report, published today, we set out to understand how the development community has adjusted to remote work, the impact on productivity, and what the future holds for engineering teams in a hybrid world.
We collected data from more than 400K software developers over the past three years — one of the most comprehensive datasets on developer productivity compiled to date. And in analyzing that data, we uncovered three key insights into how software development has changed, and what that means for the future of work.
We found that the developer experience has improved during the pandemic, while productivity remains relatively unchanged. Developers are spending less time coding nights and weekends, reclaiming time from interruptions, and making better use of commute times. They are feeling less burnt out. While they are spending slightly less time coding, they are getting more efficient with their time, automating away repetitive tasks with AI and automation tools.
These are a few of the indicators we’ve seen that the shift to remote work has been, overall, a net positive for the global development community.
You can read more on our analysis of the tradeoffs between continuing remote work and returning on-site in the full report, freely available to everyone. Below is a summary of the key findings:
1. Developer Experience Is Improving
With more flexible schedules, more work is getting done between 9am and 5pm (+5%). Developers are coding 9% more during morning commutes and less work is being pushed to late nights (-11%) and weekends (-9%). As a result of a better work-life balance, developers are feeling less burnt out.
2. Productivity Is Unchanged
While developers are spending marginally less time coding per day — 59.9 minutes in 2023 compared to 64.2 minutes in 2020 (-7%) — this change has been offset by a small improvement in efficiency. Keystrokes per minute coded, a proxy for focused work, increased by 4%. At the same time, an increasing number of repetitive tasks are being automated away with code completion and AI tools.
3. The Effects of Automation and AI Are Increasing
With the rapid adoption of AI and automation tools, like GitHub Copilot, developers are writing and editing code at a faster rate than ever before. From 2020 to 2023, the average number of characters inserted per keystroke increased by 41% and lines of code edited per minute increased by 39% — indicators of the increased usage of generative AI and code completion tools. The long-term impact of these tools on productivity and code quality remains unknown.
What does this mean for engineering teams?
While our findings indicate that most developers are happier and just as productive working remotely as at an office, many leaders still distrust remote work — presenting a productivity paradox moving forward. Leaders that mandate a return to the office risk negatively impacting the developer experience and losing top talent, key drivers of long-term productivity.
With the rise of collaboration and automation tools, like Slack and Zoom, developers can be productive working from anywhere. Development observability tools further enable remote work by solving the productivity paradox. By tracking productivity metrics like releases and release quality, companies can use data to fill in the gap between the developer experience and leadership’s visibility, restoring trust within engineering teams.
Why does it matter?
Our world runs on software. We believe in the power of software to effect positive change in the world. Enabling innovation requires leaders to help development teams perform at their best.
We founded Software.com to equip software developers and engineering leaders with the data, insights, and tools to continuously improve their craft. We hope this report will help more engineering leaders use data to empower teams to work where they are most productive.
Global trends, however, are not indicative of every company. Even within engineering organizations, there can be radical differences between teams, projects, and locations. Most companies have only scratched the surface of understanding the long-term impact of remote work. We encourage you to read the full report and share your own experiences.