Development / Technology / Tools

Are You Pre-Pandemic Productive Yet?

20 Nov 2021 6:00am, by
programming diagram

As someone who has worked remotely for the majority of the past decade, I’m certainly not the case study for productivity and last year’s sudden introduction to remote work, but when I saw the first headline about dev productivity being back to pre-pandemic levels, I had to wonder: did they get this right?

According to the Infoworld article leading with said headline, developer productivity is returning to pre-pandemic levels, but the workplace itself is shifting, GitHub has revealed in recent research.

The recent research being cited, of course, is GitHub’s yearly encapsulation of all things developer, The State of the Octoverse, which it released last week, with data from more than 12,000 respondents and 4 million repositories. Now, there are insights aplenty, from language popularity to the benefits of documenting your code and more, but it was this productivity thing that really caught my attention. Heck, how could it not? It’s the lead of the results:

“Last year, our approach to remote work reflected a lack of familiarity. We were juggling competing needs in our personal lives and at work, while trying to maintain the same levels of productivity before the pandemic,” GitHub writes at the very top of this year’s Octoverse report. “During 2021, we’ve begun to evolve from merely compensating while hoping for a return to the ‘old normal’ to truly metamorphosing our processes with the awareness of remote work needs.”

There’s just a handful of nits I want to pick here, starting off with this “lack of familiarity” as the reason for an unproductive 2020, and ending with the idea that it was “metamorphosing our processes with the awareness of remote work needs” that brought back said productivity.

As I mentioned previously, remote work, for me, is nothing new at all, and yet, I would say my productivity was also down last year. My ability to focus, my ability to stay on task, my ability to put together a full thought — all of these things constantly interrupted with… where do we start?

As evidence, I offer last year’s column from March 14, 2020, regarding working from home when the world is ending.

If you ask only questions about process and automation, those will be the only answers you will get. There is no amount of process or automation that can account for the constant concern for the health and wellness of yourself and everyone you know. There is no process for children who are suddenly home all day every day with nothing to do. Automation can’t touch your inability to look away from what feels like the world ending, one Tweet at a time.

I would venture that perhaps in addition to “metamorphosing” processes and becoming “familiar”, there are a variety of reasons outside the scope of the Octoverse that might contribute to a return to “productivity” for developers.

All that aside, there is also this rather hilarious take on this year’s Octoverse regarding how developers feel regarding reusing code versus designing code for reuse — I encourage you to click on through for the perfect punchline.

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The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Docker.