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Communications of the ACM


The 10 Best Practices for Remote Software Engineering

female in work and leisure settings, illustration

Credit: Elena Sharipova

At face value, when we think of developer productivity we might think of effectiveness in time management, communication, and task completion.14 Although we are drawn to personal workflow or time management tools, and learning secrets to improving our productivity, ironically this quest for the holy grail can sometimes take us off course and be a detriment to our productivity. The problem is that accomplishing tasks or having a filled up schedule does not necessarily equate to productivity. Creating a formulaic working strategy, as was common in the last century, does not either.a,8,13 Productivity is less a quality that can be easily measured,b controlled, or improved directly with tools, but instead is a human element that manifests from developer happiness.

This Viewpoint is intended for remote software engineers who are facing new challenges to thinking about routine, responsibility, and goal setting. As a developer of scientific software, and one who has transitioned to working remotely before any stay at home orders,24 I have slowly learned to optimize my own productivity by focusing exclusively on well-being. In this Viewpoint, I summarize what I have learned.


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