University of Oulu

Ralph, P., Baltes, S., Adisaputri, G. et al. Pandemic programming. Empir Software Eng 25, 4927–4961 (2020).

Pandemic programming : how COVID-19 affects software developers and how their organizations can help

Saved in:
Author: Ralph, Paul1; Baltes, Sebastian2; Adisaputri, Gianisa1;
Organizations: 1Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
2The University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005, Australia
3Chalmers and University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
4Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, Stellenbosch, South Africa
5JetBrains, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
6Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
7University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy
8KAIST, Daejeon, South Korea
9Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
10Peking University, Beijing, China
11Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
12University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
13Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ikoma, Japan
14Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, M´ostoles, Spain
15New York Institute of Technology, Vancouver, Canada
16King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-02-19


Context: As a novel coronavirus swept the world in early 2020, thousands of software developers began working from home. Many did so on short notice, under difficult and stressful conditions.

Objective: This study investigates the effects of the pandemic on developers’ wellbeing and productivity.

Method: A questionnaire survey was created mainly from existing, validated scales and translated into 12 languages. The data was analyzed using non-parametric inferential statistics and structural equation modeling.

Results: The questionnaire received 2225 usable responses from 53 countries. Factor analysis supported the validity of the scales and the structural model achieved a good fit (CFI = 0.961, RMSEA = 0.051, SRMR = 0.067). Confirmatory results include: (1) the pandemic has had a negative effect on developers’ wellbeing and productivity; (2) productivity and wellbeing are closely related; (3) disaster preparedness, fear related to the pandemic and home office ergonomics all affect wellbeing or productivity. Exploratory analysis suggests that: (1) women, parents and people with disabilities may be disproportionately affected; (2) different people need different kinds of support.

Conclusions: To improve employee productivity, software companies should focus on maximizing employee wellbeing and improving the ergonomics of employees’ home offices. Women, parents and disabled persons may require extra support.

see all

Series: Empirical software engineering
ISSN: 1382-3256
ISSN-E: 1573-7616
ISSN-L: 1382-3256
Volume: 25
Issue: 6
Pages: 4927 - 4961
DOI: 10.1007/s10664-020-09875-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This project was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Grant RGPIN-2020-05001, the Government of Spain through project “BugBirth” (RTI2018-101963-B-100), Dalhousie University and the University of Adelaide. Thanks to Brett Cannon, Alexander Serebrenik and Klaas Stol for their advice and support, as well as all of our pilot participants. Thanks also to all of the media outlets who provided complementary advertising, including, eksisozluk, InfoQ and Heise Online. Finally, thanks to everyone at Empirical Software Engineering for fast-tracking COVID-related research.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit