What Technologists Working From Home Say They Really Need

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, technologists across the country rushed to build out their home offices. For some, replicating their in-office experience at home was as simple as booting up their laptop; but for data scientists, machine-learning experts, and other specialized professionals, the transition to working remotely full-time was a little bit more difficult (at least at first).

Now that we’re a number of months into working from home, what do technologists still need in order to do their jobs as effectively as possible? That’s a question that SlashData asked its audience as part of the 19th edition of its State of the Developer Nation.

As you can see from the chart below, a significant portion of developers (27 percent) say they have no extra needs related to the pandemic and/or working from home. That’s the good news. The bad news: Many developers still have needs that must be fulfilled in order for them to live and operate effectively.  

At the top of the list: Flexible working hours/workload (34 percent). Although flexible hours are supposed to be one of the top benefits of remote work, it’s clear from this data that a significant portion of developers feel too bound to their schedules.

“The supremacy of non-technical needs is striking,” SlashData wrote in a note accompanying the data. “All of the technical necessities, except collaboration tools, sit at the bottom of the list, being reported only by about one in ten developers: better performance in terms of computing resources (13%), hardware components (9%), increased security (9%), and additional cloud space (7%).” 

SlashData believes that many developers’ pressing tech needs may have already been fulfilled. “It could also be, however, that developers did not perceive technical considerations as being more important than flexibility, networking, and learning.”

The percentages of developers who need flexible hours and mental health support hints at a persistent problem of burnout. Since early summer, Dice’s Sentiment Survey has revealed that, for a significant percentage of technologists, workloads have increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, some 73 percent of technologists told Blind, which anonymously surveys people in the tech industry, that they were feeling burnt-out. 

Whether or not your employer allows you to insert more flexibility into your work-from-home schedule (or provides benefits such as mental health counseling), there are steps you can take to help you avoid burnout. For starters, you can set your schedule, communicating to colleagues when you’re “off the clock” (for example, consider setting your working hours on your shared work calendar). Making a point of engaging with colleagues, and getting sleep and exercise, can likewise help put you in the right mindset.

Although it might not seem like it, most managers are open to negotiating your home-based workload. Keep the conversation friendly, and figure out which deadlines you can extend, and which tasks can perhaps be de-prioritized for the time being. Managers are intensely aware that even one technologist burning out can impact an entire team. By working together, you can reduce your stress to a manageable level. 

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