To be clear, no one is tricking anyone, no one is lying. But the companies are accurately measuring the wrong things and it gives them back wrong conclusions. The productivity actually fell and companies think it actually grew.

What happened here?


Developers suddenly found themselves working from home. Companies were worried the productivity will fall with the lack of supervision.

So they carefully measured “productivity” and found that it actually improved.


They were wrong…

Beware What You Measure

Let me tell you a funny story from history. Though it might be less funny because it’s happening again.

In the Soviet Union they wanted to know how is economy doing. So they decided to measure something that approximates economic activity.

They decided that measuring movement of raw materials is a fairly good indication of economy.

The more materials traveling the longer distance means greater economic activity.

And they weren’t wrong.


They didn’t anticipate the measurement will affect the results. (Just like in quantum physics.)

So what ended happening was bunch of trains carrying bunch of raw materials back and forth. Because it looked good on paper (in statistics).

This may seem funny and pointless, but we’re in similar situation today.


The number of solved tickets is the main rough indicator of productivity.

And what happened?

Developers started to complete more tickets.

Fortunately, no one was creating pointless tickets, or making them intentionally smaller. But developers did focus more on completing the tickets.

What’s wrong with that?

Casual Office Conversations

Well, in the “old” days when people were actually talking in the office, ideas would get exchanged.

Perhaps you were in the kitchen, or went out to lunch and people would talk.

You could mention something that was bothering you with the ticket or the tasks you have for the week in general.

And in communication with other developers and managers you would realize there is a better way to do something. Maybe increase the scope of the ticket because that is overall a better solution. Or change the way you started doing something. Simply because you found another that is better long-term for the project and the company.

ALL of these things slow down ticket resolution.

Notice I didn’t say they reduce productivity. In fact, they increase the productivity because the main goal is to find the best solution to a given problem. Not to resolve the ticket as fast as possible.


When you’re working from home, all these casual conversations are completely lost.

And now developers are resolving tickets faster than ever before. Short-term productivity seems to be going through the roof.

However, the real productivity is down. Both sort-term and especially the long term.

Barrier To Communication

When you’re working next to someone, the barrier to communication is extremely low. Not just because of the proximity and convenience, but also because you know this person better and feel more comfortable.

So any issue that you’re like 50:50 about asking or not – you’re probably going to ask if you’re sitting next to each other.

And some of these things can be major issue.

Since it’s so easy to ask, you’re less likely to go in the wrong direction very far.


In theory it’s just as easy to ask someone in person as it is through chat/Slack.

But in practice, a message is much more formal. Especially when you almost never see that person in real life.

You’re also not as close on interpersonal level (which is normal because all your communication is professional and work-related).

And if you get into a situation where you’re 50:50 about asking or nor – you will probably not ask anything.

Remember, some of these questions still might turn out to be important. By not asking them, the productivity is going down again.

And then you need to go back and fix your code.

Junior Developers

This remote situation is bad enough for experienced developers. But the effect this has on the progress of junior developers is even higher.

They still have a lot of questions (just as they did before remote was so popular).

But now they ask less questions and their progress is a lot slower.

This makes it more expensive for companies to train them and overall increases the barrier to entry into professional software development (which was already set sky high).

So in the future, companies are going to have even harder time finding new developers. Simply because their training got slowed down significantly.


In-person contact is vital for communication and productivity.

And your professional development as a software engineer got slower in this remote-work world.

To compensate for that, you’ll probably need every bit of information that can help you double your salary.

Good luck.