Productivity and delivery speed diverge during remote work

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Developer productivity during remote work

Although most teams are feeling more productive as a result of new remote work policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to software delivery speed are mixed.

CloudBees, an enterprise DevOps solutions provider, released a report The Future of Remote Work and Software Development exploring how software development is evolving under new remote work policies. Based on survey data from both individual contributors and team leaders, the report shines a spotlight on how teams are measuring the impact of remote work.

Most believe remote work increases developer productivity

Remote work boosts perceived productivity.

About 60% of respondents felt an increase in developer productivity since shifting to a remote-first workplace. Most respondents (42.8%) believed there had been some increase in productivity. Many teams (16.8%) felt a significant increase.

Developer productivity during COVID-19

Just over 12% of respondents believed there had been a decrease in developer productivity. Most noted only some decrease in productivity. A small number of respondents—just 0.36%—said that the decrease was significant.

Despite productivity gains, changes in delivery speed are mixed

The impact of remote work productivity on software delivery speeds is less clear.

While 34% of respondents reported faster software delivery with new remote work policies, 28% reported slower delivery speeds. Most respondents (38.6%) saw no change at all.

Speed of software delivery during COVID-19

Why do teams feel more productive, but aren’t shipping software faster?

First, shifting to remote work is work. Changing workplaces force teams to spend time implementing new remote-first processes. Although productive work, it won’t necessarily improve delivery speed—at first. Climbing the remote work learning curve requires developer time and resources. As teams adjust to their new workplaces, they’ll likely get better at shipping software while working remotely.

Second, remote work redefines how teams measure productivity. Workers at home juggle family, children, and more. They manage complex schedules—boosting their perceived productivity. Working from home can be challenging, and teams reward themselves for overcoming these challenges.

Lastly, developers regain time that was once lost to office culture. Workers can avoid long commutes, unnecessary meetings, and office downtime. Developers that feel productive waste less time and focus more on what matters most, even though delivery speed remains unchanged.

Red flag or work in progress

As developers grapple with the future of work at their organizations, teams will need to understand how and why productivity and delivery speed are trending together—or in opposite directions. That can help them decide if their new remote work processes are inefficient or if their team is simply investing its resources to learn and adapt to remote work.

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