Coding is a team sport but developers are divided on working from home

One in five developers reported damage to their mental health from work from home policies and twice as many want a return to the office.

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Working from home is not the preferred location for 41% of software developers who say they miss working with their colleagues in real life and want to return to the office once it is safe.

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A report commissioned by Rollbar, a software development platform, found that COVID-19 work-from-home policies had affected developers differently. Although 77% said there had been a significant impact on their work -- there was a big difference between age groups.

Younger developers, classed as Gen Z, overwhelmingly (90%) said that COVID-19 had impacted their jobs, while older developers, or baby boomers, were less concerned -- with 52% reporting a significant impact on their work.

The 2021 State of Software Code Report asked 950 software developers in the US about their experiences. It was conducted by Propeller Insights in late December 2020.

Brian Rue, CEO and co-founder at Rollbar, said: "Our research shows that some developers have struggled with remote work while others have thrived. But nearly half said that they are ready to head back to the office. Those who have grappled with isolation, and balancing work and home life, are especially keen to return to shared workspaces." 

About one-fifth of developers complained about higher stress levels because of working from home. They had trouble striking a healthy work-life balance and had to work extra hours. 

They also highlighted issues such as lower budgets, smaller teams, and that the work was far more challenging because there weren't the same opportunities to collaborate with colleagues. 

"Coding is a team sport," said Cory Virok, CTO and co-founder at Rollbar. "Developers want to run through their thought processes in person. It's always easier to do this in the office than on Zoom."

Interestingly, about one-half of developers had not worked from home before the COVID-19 policies were implemented. Additional complaints: 19% claimed damage to their mental health from working from home, and one in 10 said it had a negative effect on family life.

About one-half of developers in the North-East US are keen to go back to the office compared with 37% in the South -- possibly indicating that space for a home office might be a factor.

Rollbar said that it has more than 5,000 companies using its continuous development platform, cutting the time developers spend finding and fixing bugs -- which the report showed is much tougher from a home office.