What do software developers want? It's an important question for CIOs looking to attract the best coding talent, but it's a hard question to answer. That's because software developers tend to be fiercely individualistic and defy generalization.
As a result, many developer surveys concentrate on the skills that are in demand, and the languages developers plan to learn. But a new survey of 1,400 developers called State of Stack attempts to gauge developers' wants and needs. It was conducted by Netguru, an international software development company based in Poland, and Spanish online data collection startup Typeform and the results make interesting reading.
Not in it for the money
It's no surprise to learn that developers like to earn money, but what is surprising is that money is not their prime motivating factor, according to the survey respondents. In fact, the overwhelming majority — 85 percent — said that working on an interesting project was more important than money.
That has important implications for companies looking to recruit developers to maintain existing applications and other less-than-glamourous tasks. But Adam Nowak, head of technology at Netguru, points out that it doesn't mean that companies can get away with paying below the going rates for cutting-edge projects, or that they can get good people to work on dull tasks just by paying them a little bit more. "I think good developers get to some kind of level where there is always good money on the table," he says. "After that the money is not as important as what they are working on and the people they are working with."
No place like home
The survey also revealed that almost 40 percent of the developers surveyed want to work from home. That's important because although telecommuting is becoming increasingly accepted, there are still many large organizations that regard it as something that may be allowed occasionally, rather than as the rule.
"For many developers today, if they are not going to be allowed to work at home then that is actually a big issue," says Nowak. He adds that companies that don't allow telecommuting restrict themselves to recruiting from a far smaller pool of developers who are prepared to work in an office. By doing that they risk missing out on some of the best developer talent.
Nowak points out that there are plenty of tools available that enable managers to monitor the productivity of developers working at home to ensure they are putting in enough effort. And in any case monitoring may be unnecessary: The economic theory of “efficiency wages” holds that higher wages boost productivity, so paying home workers more than the going rate gives them greater incentive to work hard to keep their jobs.
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