Socio-Technical Work-Rate Increase Associates With Changes in Work Patterns in Online Projects
Technical TrackIndustry Program
Software developers perform tasks requiring a variety of skills. Tasks range from technical, e.g., writing code, to social communication among team members, e.g., related to issue resolution. In addition, the amount of work developers perform per week (their work-rate) varies, depending on project needs and developer schedules.
Prior work has shown that while moderate levels of increased technical work and multitasking lead to higher productivity, beyond a certain threshold they can lead to lowered performance.
Here, we study how increases in the short-term work-rate, along both the technical and social dimensions, are associated with changes in developers’ work patterns, in particular communication sentiment, technical productivity, and social productivity.
We surveyed active and prolific GitHub developers to understand causes and impacts of increased work-rates. Guided by the survey responses, we developed regression models to study how communication patterns and commit activities change with increased work-rates, and fit those models to large-scale data gathered from traces left by thousands of GitHub software developers. From our survey and models, we find that most developers do experience work-rate-increase-related changes in behavior, both in their communication patterns and committing frequencies. Notably, our models show that there is a sizable effect when developers comment much more than their average: the negative sentiment in their comments increases. Also, interestingly, the models show that committing activities do not change with increased communication, and vice versa for commenting activities, suggesting mutual independence between technical and social activities in terms of work-rate increases.
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