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Back to the office or stay away? Tech developers have their say

Tech developers weigh up the pros and cons of working at home, in the office, or a hybrid form. See what they think.

Man working in an office at a computer. — Photo: © Tim Sandle
Man working in an office at a computer. — Photo: © Tim Sandle

New data finds that, within the U.S., 41 percent of software developers say they are ready to go back to the office.

This comes finding comes in the context of many ‘Big Tech’ firms speeding up a return to the office. For example, Amazon has been gobbling up real estate over the past year and has talked about a return to an “office-centric culture.” In addition, Google is already bringing employees back to offices in some regions, blending virtual work with in-person collaboration.

As another example, IBM is taking a different tack, with 80 percent of its workers likely to stay in hybrid roles.

The new research, which finds that the majority of workers are not keen to return to the office, comes from a U.S.-wide survey of 950 developers and engineers. The survey was commissioned by Rollbar.

The research further reveals that while most people are happy with home working or with a hybrid approach, there is the sizable 40 percent of developers who are grappling with isolation and balancing work and home life, as what many thought would be temporary has turned into a long-term situation.

In terms of wanting or not wanting to come back to the office there is a demographic difference. Here, younger developers were more likely to want to go back to the office than older developers. Moreover, geography may also play a role in developer views about remote work. Nearly half (49 percent) of developers in the Northeast of the U.S. said they are ready to go back into the office. Yet a much lower, but still significant, share of developers in the South of the U.S. (37 percent) expressed a desire to return to office life.

The survey finds activity that developers said they miss the most is collaborating with their team members face to face. Here 78 percent of developers expressed this sentiment.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the world, mental health issues are having a continued impact upon many people. Here, there remains a level of fear, worry and concern in the population at large. There are also patterns that show mental health issues are affecting some groups in particular, this can included different occupations to different levels, where the coronavirus pandemic is adding to other, existing work pressure.

Another important consideration is with mental health. In relation to this, close to one fifth (19 percent) of those polled said that remote work has adversely impacted their mental health, and a tenth of developers said that remote work has had negative consequences on their family life.

Linked to mental health is stress. A fifth said they are more stressed at work because they have a smaller team, while slightly more than a fifth (22 percent) said they have less work-life balance.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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