How Do Software Developers Relax? Perhaps Not the Way You Think.

Software development is a famously stressful job at some moments. How do developers cope? What activities do they prefer when they need to clear their heads? 

HackerEarth recently queried more than 25,000 developers about their lives and work as part of its 2021 Developer Survey. One key question: How developers choose to unwind from a hard stretch of software-building. While the stereotype of a typical developer is someone who enjoys hanging out online (or playing video games) when they’re not coding, the reality is very different, as the following chart can attest:

In a note accompanying the data, HackerEarth dug into why walking was so popular among those surveyed: “When we asked developers the same question last year, they said they liked to indulge in indoor games like foosball when not coding. In 2021, going for walks has become the most popular method of de-stressing. We’re chalking it up to working from home and not having a chance to stretch your legs.”

With many offices still closed until late summer at the earliest, many technologists don’t have access to the indoor games that many companies presented as a perk (your humble correspondent, for example, has walked into many a Silicon Valley office over the years to find a room with arcade machines, pool tables, and more). Across the country, gyms and communal indoor-games places are also reopening slowly. 

In the meantime, many developers seem to be turning to the great outdoors. While developers racked up their daily steps as part of their commute, that’s obviously not an option for many of them right now; instead, a jaunt around the neighborhood allows them to get some air and perhaps mull more deeply over a coding challenge. 

As companies figure out how to best re-open, technologists of all types have made it clear that they prefer a hybrid work schedule, with a portion of the workweek spent in the office and the rest of it working remotely. A hybrid schedule potentially offers the best of both worlds: the collaboration and camaraderie of the office, as well as the flexibility of remote work. Sometimes you just need to take a walk around the block or blast some music in the middle of the day.