64% of Engineering Managers Report Confidence in Remote Team Productivity, but Have Concerns around Burnout, New Survey Finds

The leading two concerns expressed by engineering managers were maintaining team member morale (43%) and team collaboration (37%).
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SEATTLE, WA, Nov. 24, 2020 – The majority (64%) of software engineering managers believe that their team productivity has either increased or stayed the same since the start of COVID-19, according to a recent “Engineering Effectiveness” survey of more than 250 software engineering managers conducted by Uplevel, a leading engineering effectiveness platform, and Wakefield Research. Remote work is not without its challenges, however. The leading two concerns expressed by engineering managers were maintaining team member morale (43%) and team collaboration (37%).

“Despite misperceptions about remote work, engineering team productivity is holding steady if not on the rise. However, for many, this is coupled with a decrease in time to work, making morale and burnout a top concern for engineering team managers,” said Ravs Kaur, Chief Technology Officer, Uplevel. “As teams settle into the new work normal, leaders need to think about the longer-term impact of losing in-person interactions. Innovation and trust-building that was spurred by white-board brainstorms and chats over coffee are now gone and this will start to manifest in team health. Managing this effectively by equipping managers with the resources to address these critical leadership challenges will be central to the success of both the engineering team and the entire organization.”

Surprisingly, even with these recognized challenges, when asked what skills they considered to be the most important for managing a remote workforce, only 36% of managers cited leadership skills as more important than technical skills for managing their remote workforce in the coming 12 months. Despite the stated importance of managing employee morale and collaboration, 64% of managers prioritize technical skills over leadership skills. This discrepancy suggests a significant blind spot in their preparedness to manage remotely throughout the unpredictable year ahead.

Additional findings of Uplevel’s “Engineering Effectiveness” Survey include:

  • Although 95% of managers report that they understand how their team spends their time, managers recognize that their employees aren’t as effective as they could be. They are distracted and pushed to context switch more than ever. When asked about management challenges, 37% cite that it’s more difficult to collaborate on projects, and 31% report dealing with more distractions working from home.
  • When it comes to top drains on team time, large and small companies reported very different time sinks
  • Among managers with remote employees at large companies (1,000+ employees), 76% say meetings are a top time drain at their company,
  • However, smaller companies (less than 1,000 employees) cited endless emails (71%) as the biggest drain 

Download the report here.

Methodology 

The Uplevel Engineering Effectiveness Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 250 U.S. Software Engineer Managers who work at technology, software, IT, or high-tech manufacturing companies between October 7th and October 19th, 2020, using an email invitation and an online survey.

About Uplevel

Uplevel is an engineering effectiveness platform that leverages machine learning and organizational science to enable behavior change. Software engineers and managers get insights and alerts integrated into their daily workflow based on best practices and a superset of data from tools such as calendar, code repository, project management, and messaging. Named as a Startup to Watch in 2020 by BuiltIn Seattle and a Best Company to Work for by Seattle Business Magazine, we believe that data-driven work cultures foster the most innovative teams. With Uplevel, engineers and managers are empowered with individual and team data so they can detect execution risks, protect time for what matters, and elevate their team — so everyone can focus on their best work. Uplevel is headquartered in Seattle, WA.