Research Paper: Challenges of Working from Home in Software Development During Covid-19 Lockdowns

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020/2021/2022 and the resulting lockdowns forced many companies to switch to working from home, swiftly, on a large scale, and without preparation. This situation created unique challenges for software development, where individual software professionals had to shift instantly from working together at a physical venue to working remotely from home. Our research questions focus on the challenges of software professionals who work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which we studied empirically at a German bank. We conducted a case study employing a mixed methods approach. We aimed to cover both the breadth of challenges via a quantitative survey, as well as a deeper understanding of these challenges via the follow-up qualitative analysis of fifteen semi-structured interviews. In this paper, we present the key impediments employees faced during the crisis, as well as their similarities and differences to the known challenges in distributed software development (DSD). We also analyze the employees’ job satisfaction and how the identified challenges impact job satisfaction. In our study, we focus on challenges in communication, collaboration, tooling, and management. The findings of the study provide insights into this emerging topic of high industry relevance. At the same time, the study contributes to the existing academic research on work from home and on the COVID-19 pandemic aftermath.

Keywords: Distributed Software Development, DSD, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Corona Crisis, Lockdown, Mixed Methods, Open Source, Work from Home, Remote Work

Reference: Katharina Müller, Christian Koch, Dirk Riehle, Michael Stops and Nikolay Harutyunyan (2022). Challenges of working from home in software development during COVID-19 lockdowns. ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, forthcoming.


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