Some developers are ready for a return to the office. But not everyone wants to go back

A survey of developers by Rollbar found that 41% wanted to return to the office when safe to do so, compared to 34% who said they wished to continue working remotely.

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Developers are keen to get back to face-to-face group work.

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Nearly half of developers say they are ready for a return to the workplace after a year of unprecedented demand for software – though not everyone is ready to give up remote working just yet.

A survey of 950 developers by coding platform Rollbar found that 41% wished to go back to the office once it was safe to do so, with the majority (78%) expressing a desire to return to face-to-face collaboration that they've missed out on while working remotely.

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"Coding is a team sport," said Cory Virok, CTO and co-founder at Rollbar. "It is easier to get someone to review or talk through code in person – you can also whiteboard. This is harder to do spontaneously and over a videoconferencing connection while working from home."

The situation is similar when it comes to fixing bugs, said Virok. "Developers want to run through their thought processes in person. It's always easier to do this in the office than on Zoom."

The increased demand for software during the pandemic has piled pressure onto IT teams tasked with rolling out new apps and services, with many organizations fast-forwarding their digital transformation efforts by a number of years.

For developers, this means more hours spent writing, checking and deploying code. According to Rollbar's survey, 23% of developers have spent more time monitoring for and fixing bugs during the pandemic. For many, this translates into bigger workloads: 18% of developers reported working longer hours since the pandemic hit, with 22% complaining of a diminished work-life balance – a common complaint amongst remote workers since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.

The knock-on effect of this is higher rates of burnout and stress: nearly a fifth (19%) of developers said that remote work had adversely impacted their mental health, while one in 10 developers said remote work had had negative consequences on their family life. A fifth of developers said they were working with smaller teams, creating challenges and stress.

While many employees have embraced remote working and hope to see it continue, for others, the appeal has lost its charm.

Brian Rue, CEO and co-founder at Rollbar, pointed out that what many thought would be a temporary workaround for COVID-19 had turned into a long-term solution. "Our research shows that some developers have struggled with remote work while others have thrived," said Rue.

SEE: The best programming languages to learn--and the worst (TechRepublic Premium)

Indeed, for many remote working has brought with it a number of benefits. For example, a fifth (20%) of respondents to Rollbar's survey reported working fewer hours during the pandemic that they were pre-2020, while 34% said they loved remote working and wanted to continue doing so indefinitely.

"Those who have grappled with isolation, and balancing work and home life, are especially keen to return to shared workspaces," said Rue, with Rollbar finding that younger developers were most likely to have been negatively impacted by working remotely and want to return to the office.

But the continuation of the remote-working trends could spell good news for organizations hoping to level-up their software teams. With more companies looking to bring on skilled developers, remote hiring could help solve the challenge of increased demand for professionals with these skills.

Mary Lee Olsen, head of talent at Rollbar, said: "Hiring remote developers allows companies to expand their talent pool – not just to new cities, but also into new countries."

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