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A Seasonal Report on Developer Trends in the Cloud: Remote Work Edition
Trends in the developer community move quickly. As a developer-focused company,
it's vital to keep up with the technologies and tools developers are interested
in so we can help them achieve their goals.
Currents is DigitalOcean’s seasonal report on developer trends that we created
to share knowledge with the community. For the sixth edition, we surveyed more than
4,500 developers around the world about remote work — including how they work, their
experiences working remotely, how they connect with the larger community, and how
they maintain work-life balance.
Many developers only started working remotely within the last one to four years,
but this option is quickly becoming more accepted and even demanded. Eighty-six
percent of those surveyed currently work remotely in some capacity, mostly full
time (29%) or multiple times a week (25%). Of respondents who do not work remotely,
62% indicated it is only because their company does not let them.
Canada is leading other countries in its remote workforce, with 94% of
those surveyed working remotely in some capacity, followed by the United States
(89%), the United Kingdom (88%), and India (80%). But remote work comes in
various degrees, and the U.S. leads with the most developers who primarily work
Forty-three percent of the developers we surveyed say the ability to work
remotely is a must-have when considering an offer with a company, while over half
(53%) say they think less highly of a company that does not offer remote work options.
Developers say it gives the impression that the company is behind the times.
Being more productive at home is the most common reason people choose to work
remotely (45%), followed by those who work remotely when they need to run an errand
(32%). Nearly a quarter say they work from home because they have a long commute.
Most developers who work remotely work fragmented hours throughout the day (47%),
while 44% work consecutively through standard office hours. There are particularly
prominent differences between countries: 66% of respondents in India work fragmented
hours vs. 35% in the U.S., 40% in the UK, and 41% in Canada.
A common stereotype surrounding remote workers is that they feel isolated or alone in their
homes and don’t benefit from a connection to their work teams or to the larger industry
community. Our survey found this is often untrue. In fact, many respondents who work
from home are embracing the larger developer community.
Seventy-one percent of respondents said they feel connected to their company’s community
when working remotely. Advances in cloud computing and workplace communication tools could
be driving improved connections between remote and in-office employees. Business
collaboration software like Slack, Skype for Business, and Salesforce Chatter is the most
preferred communication method for developers when they work remotely. Instant messaging
like Google chat was rated second, while traditional email still beat out phone or video
Developers aren’t just engaging with their colleagues, they’re staying in touch with
the wider developer community as well. Many respondents choose to connect with developers
and the larger community by attending developer meetups and local events, developer
conferences, and by contributing to online forums. In fact, 77% have attended an industry
event or conference in the last 12 months.
But this isolation still persists for some, so engaging remote employees is still an
issue worth paying attention to. More than a quarter of remote workers do not feel
connected, often citing they feel excluded from offline team conversations or don’t
feel integrated into the company’s culture.
Remote work experiences also tends to differ between genders. Women are more likely
to report feeling disconnected from their communities when working rremotely and are
more likely to feel added pressure to contribute to projects.
While issues like not feeling connected do still exist for nearly a third of remote
workers surveyed, only 32% of respondents were aware of any specific programs or policies
their company had in place to ensure remote employees feel included. Forty percent
indicated their companies have no such programs, while the remaining 28% were unsure if
these programs existed.
But many developers do believe these programs have the potential to improve the experiences
of remote workers. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents who were aware of these programs
at their companies reported that they’re having a positive impact on creating an inclusive
environment for remote employees. This will be an important investment for companies as they
grapple with the shifting needs of both remote and in-office workers.
Cultural issues like work-life balance and workplace experience are ones many
companies are working to address regardless of industry, and developer-focused
organizations are no exception. Burnout in the developer community is widely discussed,
and our survey found that burnout impacted development regardless of where they
worked. Sixty-six percent of respondents noted that their stress levels have caused
them to feel burnt out or work fatigued. This jumps to 72% for women, while 65% of
men noted this. More than half of the respondents who have felt burnout have taken
a mental health day to relieve work-related stress, frustration, or anxiety.
Remote work is seen as a solution to this stress. The majority of developers who
work from home (76%) believe that it helps them improve their work-life balance.
Reducing stressful commutes and having greater flexibility in living options were
the top reasons, perhaps driven by the rising cost of living in major cities.
But there seems to be a disconnect between the perception of remote work and the
reality of it. Despite the optimism, remote workers reported slightly higher levels
of burnout than in-office workers — 66% vs. 64%, respectively.
Over half of remote workers report scheduling structured breaks throughout the day,
but this showed no real change in reported burnout when compared with those who didn’t
schedule breaks. Burnout skyrockets in the U.S. as well, with 82% of respondents
saying they have experienced it.
When it comes down to day-to-day levels of work stress/frustration/anxiety, a quarter
say remote work has no impact, while 11% say it actually worsens these issues. Working
longer hours from home and the pressure to contribute more to projects were the top reasons
for the drop in work-life balance for remote workers. In fact, a full 34% of developers
say they work more than 8 hours a day when they work from home.
While remote work options have become increasingly popular and more widely accepted
among developers, companies must continue to support these workers to ensure they
feel included, avoid burnout, and maintain a positive work-life balance.
Of the 4,562 survey respondents, 66% self-identified as developers, 11% as DevOps,
and six percent as students. The rest identified as administrators, managers, technical
support or, “other.”