Software Engineers Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Survey with
Practitioners Working Remotely in a Public Organization
Lidiany Cerqueira
1,2 a
, Lourene Lobato Nunes
, Viviane Malheiros
, Renan Guerra
Beatriz Santana
, Rodrigo Sp
, Manoel Mendonc¸a
and Jos
e Amancio Macedo Santos
Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Federal University of Sergipe, Lagarto, Sergipe, Brazil
Data Processing Federal Service, Brazil
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, U.S.A.
State University of Feira de Santana, Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil
Work Engagement, Job Satisfaction, Productivity, Soft Factors.
Context: Work engagement is related to a positive fulfilling work-related mental state. Job satisfaction refers
to how professionals are satisfied with their work. Measuring work engagement and job satisfaction can help
organizations to foster employee productivity, as they are related. Objective: This study aims to analyze the
work engagement and job satisfaction of software practitioners working in remote environment in a public
organization. Method: We assess the engagement and job satisfaction of software professionals at a large
governmental software organization. We surveyed a group of 148 employees and performed a quantitative
and qualitative analysis of the responses. Results: The respondents reported good level of engagement and
job satisfaction, 63% of them would recommend their team to a friend. The survey also reveals that career
development, psychological safety, team, management and rewards, benefits, meeting planning, and social
interactions are the factors that most affect the satisfaction of software professionals. Conclusion: The results
of this study can help software organizations in fostering workplace improvement and satisfaction of software
development teams. For researchers, results provide a grounded view of work engagement and job satisfaction,
guiding new research efforts aligned with the demands and current context as experienced by practitioners.
For practitioners, the identified factors provide empirical reference for improving work environments. We
summarized them in a cheat sheet frame.
In the competitive software industry, tech companies
face the challenge of increasing the quality while
reducing production costs of their products. To
achieve this objective, they often seek to increase their
team’s productivity, which is affected by human fac-
tors (Canedo and Santos, 2019) such as engagement
and job satisfaction (Franc¸a et al., 2018; Murphy-Hill
et al., 2019; Panteli et al., 2018).
Tech companies have investigated these factors
to understand how they affect their team’s produc-
tivity. For instance, Google researchers found that
the best teams were productive because they worked
together well, regardless of who was on the team
(Duhigg, 2016). They also point out that successful
managers foster employee engagement and job sat-
isfaction (Harrel and Barbato, 2018). Microsoft re-
searchers proposed a theory of software developer job
satisfaction and perceived productivity (Storey et al.,
2019) and identified work environment factors that
affect the satisfaction and perceived productivity of
software engineers (Johnson et al., 2019). Also, soft-
ware communities such as GitHub and Stack Over-
flow are trying to understand what makes developers
and teams perform better, be more productive, and
have a great developer experience. Empirical studies
conducted by Franc¸a et al. (2018) identified a variety
of factors that affect the motivation and satisfaction of
software engineers, and proposed a theory of software
engineers’ motivation and job satisfaction. Overall,
these studies indicate that measuring work engage-
ment and job satisfaction can help organizations to
understand and predict productivity (Forsgren et al.,
2021; Murphy-Hill et al., 2019; Storey et al., 2019).
Cerqueira, L., Nunes, L., Malheiros, V., Guerra, R., Santana, B., Spínola, R., Mendonça, M. and Santos, J.
Software Engineers Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Survey with Practitioners Working Remotely in a Public Organization.
DOI: 10.5220/0012676400003690
In Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2024) - Volume 2, pages 65-76
ISBN: 978-989-758-692-7; ISSN: 2184-4992
Copyright © 2024 by Paper published under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Several soft and technical factors may impact
work engagement and job satisfaction (Storey et al.,
2019; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018). Software compa-
nies often do not know how these factors affect their
work environment (Canedo and Santos, 2019). Ad-
ditionally, the accelerating adoption of remote work
increases the challenges of managing virtual teams
and the need to examine what impacts them (Pan-
teli et al., 2018). Organizations need to understand
the impact of employee engagement in a technology-
mediated remote work environment as it can be an
early predictor of burnout and can lead to poor job
performance, low job satisfaction, absenteeism, and
employee turnover (Maslach and Leiter, 2016; Panteli
et al., 2018).
Our study investigates the work engagement and
job satisfaction of software practitioners working
in a remote environment of a large federal gov-
ernment technology company. To this end, it sur-
veyed 148 software practitioners and analyzed their
responses qualitatively and quantitatively. The survey
participants work as managers, architects, designers,
support, and programmers in a software development
department. Results indicate that they have good level
of work engagement and that 63% of the participants
would recommend their team to a friend. During the
analysis, we coded 28 soft factors and two technical
factors, which, according to the participants’ percep-
tion, can help the company improve satisfaction in the
Practitioners can use our results to foster work-
place improvement and satisfaction of software devel-
opment teams. For researchers, our results provide a
grounded view of work engagement and job satisfac-
tion in a software company, guiding new research ef-
forts aligned with the demands and current context as
experienced by practitioners. The results contribute
to build knowledge on the topic by considering a spe-
cific context: governmental organization and remote
The paper is structured as follows. Section 2
presents the key concepts and related work on soft-
ware engineering work engagement and job satisfac-
tion. We present the survey design in Section 3, re-
sults in Section 4, and discussions in Section 5. Sec-
tion 6 presents the threats to the study validity. Sec-
tion 7 concludes the paper with our final considera-
tions and future perspectives.
This section explores key concepts on software engi-
neering work engagement, job satisfaction, and pro-
Work engagement refers to a positive dispositional
state of mind, of pleasure and connection with the
work activities, characterized by vigor, dedication,
and concentration (Vazquez et al., 2015). It is related
to high levels of energy and mental resilience at work,
along with a sense of significance, inspiration, pride,
challenge, and concentration (Vazquez et al., 2015).
Job satisfaction refers to how satisfied employees
are with their work, team, tools, or culture (Forsgren
et al., 2021). Researchers and companies do realize
that productivity and job satisfaction are related to
each other (Storey et al., 2019). Satisfaction is one
of the most valued dimensions of productivity in soft-
ware development (Forsgren et al., 2021).
Productivity is complex and nuanced, with im-
portant implications for software development teams
(Forsgren et al., 2021). Most research in software
engineering defines productivity in terms of the rate
of output per unit of input, often time-based (John-
son et al., 2019). However, many factors influence
software productivity and organizations generally do
not know what these factors are (Canedo and Santos,
2019). There is no consensus on the “right” measure-
ment of productivity. However, one weighty measure
of productivity is personal perception (Forsgren et al.,
2.1 Related Work
In this section, we explore relevant studies on engage-
ment, satisfaction and productivity of software profes-
Panteli et al. (2018) explored work engagement in
virtual teams. The authors investigated work engage-
ment in asynchronous mediated settings and found
practices that foster its development. However, unlike
our work, this study was not carried out in a software
development company, but in a project management
company in the engineering industry.
Wagner and Ruhe (2018) conducted a systematic
review of productivity factors in software develop-
ment. They presented a list of technical and soft fac-
tors that influence productivity. Soft factors are as-
pects related to human characteristics, such as man-
agement, feedback, communication, and appreciation
for work, whereas technical factors relate to systems
and process engineering, such as programming lan-
guages, tools, hardware, and processes (Canedo and
Santos, 2019; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018).
Based on the list of factors distilled by Wagner and
Ruhe (2018), Storey et al. (2019) performed a study
to understand and measure productivity and job sat-
isfaction. The authors investigated the most signif-
icant soft-technical factors and challenges faced by
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Microsoft developers. As a result, they compiled a
categorized list of soft and technical factors that can
affect job satisfaction and productivity.
Our work used the categorization done by Wag-
ner and Ruhe (2018) and Storey et al. (2019). We
used their list of soft and technical factors as a starting
point for our coding process, and followed a bottom-
up process that eventually evolved their list to better
classify our working data set.
Johnson et al. (2019) presented a study to under-
stand which factors, related to the physical work envi-
ronment, affect the satisfaction and perceived produc-
tivity of software engineers who work in company of-
fices. The authors found that working privately with-
out interruption plus team and leaders’ communica-
tion were the most critical factors. Differently from
(Johnson et al., 2019), our work is not focused only
on factors related to the physical work environment.
Franc¸a et al. (2018) carried out multiple case stud-
ies in four software organizations to present a the-
ory of software engineers’ motivation and job satis-
faction. According to the authors, these aspects have
been objects of study in many different fields for a
long time, but there is still little concern with the
proper use of theories applied to software engineer-
ing (Franc¸a et al., 2018).
Google researchers performed case studies to
identify the importance of managers in teams and
also to characterize what makes effective teams on
Google (Duhigg, 2016; Harrel and Barbato, 2018).
They concluded that leaders play a decisive role in
employee performance, satisfaction, and retention
(Duhigg, 2016). They found five characteristics to
define the best teams: psychological safety, reliabil-
ity, structure and clarity, meaning and impact (Har-
rel and Barbato, 2018). Despite the results, the work
of Google researchers can be considered Grey Liter-
ature (GL), as the company reports are not formally
peer-reviewed nor formally published (Garousi et al.,
2019). Our work takes into consideration the GL of
Google reports to assess team related dimensions con-
cerning psychological safety, performance effective-
ness, allocation, and career development.
Engagement and job satisfaction are based on the
subjective practitioners’ perception, and may vary ac-
cording to different contexts, professionals, work en-
vironment and organization. Thus our work seeks to
identify additional factors and observe how they com-
plement previous research. To this end, we present
insights into the experience and opinion of software
engineering professionals from a large governmental
software organization. Although there are studies on
motivation, satisfaction and engagement of software
professionals, this specific context is still not widely
studied and cultural differences can impact the results
(Franc¸a et al., 2018). Moreover, the participants of
our study work remotely. Software companies are
shifting to remote work, and researchers and compa-
nies are still trying to comprehend the challenges and
factors that affect practitioners’ engagement and sat-
isfaction in such environments. Our results might be
considered as input for comparing what factors affect
remote and on-site work.
This section presents the planning of the study consid-
ering its context, posed research questions, data col-
lection and analysis procedures.
3.1 Context
Our study was carried out at the largest state-owned
IT technology company in Latin America. The com-
pany has around 7,700 employees and is spread over
several states of Brazil
. Thus, the survey and partic-
ipants mother language is Portuguese. The study was
carried out in the context of Project Sinergia, which is
being carried out in the company’s software develop-
ment department, aiming to improve employees’ soft
skills. Within the scope of Sinergia, the company ex-
pects to identify improvement opportunities and an-
alyze the evolution and return of the actions imple-
mented. It also foresees a positive impact on the par-
ticipants since the study allows them to know where
they are, get a baseline of their competencies, and
plan personal and team level improvement actions.
3.2 Research Questions
Our survey focuses on understanding factors that af-
fect work engagement and job satisfaction. Thus,
our questionnaire address multiple questions related
to these factors, considering the research background
(Wagner and Ruhe, 2018; Storey et al., 2019), for in-
stance, psychological safety, team effectiveness, per-
formance, allocation, and career development. We
defined the research questions based on the interest
of organizing the understanding of these factors in-
dependently: we tried to capture how each factor
relates to the organization’s central interests for im-
provements in its software quality processes. Hence,
our work has the following research questions:
RQ1. How is the work engagement in the solution
development teams? This question aims to assess
employee’s engagement at work. It is motivated
by the fact that engagement is related to other
key job factors at the organizational level. For
Data from the Transparency and Governance Portal
Software Engineers Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Survey with Practitioners Working Remotely in a Public Organization
instance, there is a positive correlation between
engagement and commitment to the job (Vazquez
et al., 2015) and a negative correlation between
engagement and the intention to leave an organi-
zation (Halbesleben and Wheeler, 2008). There
are also possible correlations between engage-
ment and absenteeism, satisfaction, and job per-
formance (Salanova et al., 2005). Our work uses
an adaptation of the Utrecht Work Engagement
Scale (UWES) (Vazquez et al., 2015) to measure
work engagement.
RQ2. How do solution development teams assess
the dimensions of psychological safety, team ef-
fectiveness, performance, allocation, and career
development? Psychological safety is related to
personal perceptions about the consequences of
taking interpersonal risks in a context such as a
workplace (Edmondson and Lei, 2014). Team ef-
fectiveness encompasses factors such as cohesion
and collaboration, as well as proactive communi-
cation, clear goals, autonomy, and work impact
(Beecham et al., 2008; Sharp et al., 2009; Storey
et al., 2019; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018). The per-
formance dimension intends to evaluate the teams
perceived productivity. The allocation dimension
intends to identify situations of overload or idle-
ness within the team, and plays a critical role in
the success of projects in software engineering
(Costa et al., 2020). And, the career development
dimension intends to assess the perception of fac-
tors such as feedback, career development, and
recognition for work (Beecham et al., 2008; Sharp
et al., 2009). By looking at these dimensions, this
question aims to investigate how people work to-
gether within their teams and the organization it-
RQ3. How satisfied are solution development
team members with their teams? This question
aims to assess the satisfaction of the employees.
Satisfaction refers to pleasurable emotions in re-
action to work and influences attitudes towards the
organization such as intention to stay and job at-
tendance (Franc¸a et al., 2018). One of the possible
ways to measure satisfaction is to ask employees
how much they would recommend their team to
others (Forsgren et al., 2021).
RQ4. What factors can be improved in the
work environment? This question aims to identify
points that can contribute to improving the work
environment, productivity, satisfaction, and well-
being of solution development team members. It
works as a proxy to identify critical points of at-
tention at the work environment.
3.3 Survey Instrument
We conduct a survey because productivity dimensions
such as employee satisfaction and well-being are gen-
erally better evaluated with this type of research strat-
egy (Forsgren et al., 2021). The survey encompasses
18 questions based on a Likert scale from 0 to 6 (0 -
Never, 1 - Almost never, 2 - Occasionally, 3 - Regu-
larly, 4 - Frequently, 5 - Almost allways, 6 - Always),
and a question based on a Net Promoter Score (NPS)
scale. NPS is a market research metric that uses a sin-
gle survey question, asking customers to rate the like-
lihood that they would recommend a company, prod-
uct, or a service to a friend or colleague (Bendle et al.,
2019). In our survey, NPS helps to measure how satis-
fied employees are with the company. Finally, with a
open-ended question, the survey totaled 20 questions.
The questionnaire is available in our replication pack-
age (Cerqueira, 2024).
Questions 1 to 6 approach the employee satisfac-
tion dimension. These questions aim to assess the
level of work engagement, considering that there is
a relationship between work engagement and profes-
sional performance (Vazquez et al., 2015). This set
of questions is related to RQ1. Questions 7 to 18 fo-
cus on the dimensions psychological safety, perfor-
mance effectiveness, allocation, and career develop-
ment. This set of questions is related to RQ2 and it
is based on the technical reports of the Aristotle and
Oxygen projects (Duhigg, 2016; Harrel and Barbato,
2018). It aims to assess the relationship among em-
ployees within the working team. Question 19 aims
to answer RQ3 and defines a team recommendation
assessment to measure employee satisfaction within
the team. It uses an NPS scale ranging from 0 to 10.
Lastly, for answering RQ4, question 20 asks the par-
ticipant what he(she) would do if he(she) had a magic
wand to improve his(her) work environment. It aims
to identify critical points of improvement at the work
Before applying the survey at large, we piloted
it in an organizational unit of 79 people. Our goal
was to try the survey instrument with members of the
target population of the study. We received 65 an-
swers and got feedback about how much time it took
to complete the task (the mean time was about 12 min-
utes), impressions about questions (e.g. clarity, ease
of understanding, size), and improvement points. We
did not include these responses in the final survey re-
sults. We used this information to refine the question-
naire by: (i) improving the survey questions for clarity
and completeness, i.e., internal and construct validity;
and, (ii) reducing the effort required to answer it.
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3.4 Data Collection and Population
We conducted the survey between October 25th and
November 08th of 2021 with employees who worked
remotely in the development of software solutions.
The respondents were from different geographical re-
gions of the country and had working between 10 to
30 years in the organization. They work as managers,
architects, designers, support, and programmers in a
software development department.
The survey application was done synchronously
in virtual meetings. In those meetings, those respon-
sible for the survey explained the purpose of the ques-
tionnaire, and invited the attending employees to par-
ticipate in it. The participation was voluntary, and
those who decided to participate in the survey would
be given 20 minutes to answer the questionnaire. We
invited 225 practitioners to the survey and received
answers from 148 (a 65% success rate). To ensure
anonymity, we refer to survey participants by ID as
, P
, ...P
3.5 Data Analysis Procedures
The survey instrument is composed of a mix of closed
and open-ended questions. Thus, we need to rely on a
variety of procedures for data analysis.
For the analysis of the answers to closed ques-
tions, we relied on descriptive statistics to get a bet-
ter understanding of the data. We used the mode and
median for the central tendency of the ordinal and in-
terval data. For the nominal data, we calculated the
distribution of participants choosing each option.
For the open-ended question, we applied quali-
tative data analysis techniques (Seaman, 1999). We
coded responses to Q20 based on the list of categories
and important technical and soft factors proposed by
Wagner and Ruhe (2018) and Storey et al. (2019) (see
Section 2.1). For instance, we coded the participant
s response ”I would improve communication. It
is very difficult to get through to the team, they are
always busy”
as Communication in the Team cate-
gory. In another example, we coded P
s answer ”Get
more feedback from my leaders” as Feedback in the
Management category. The list of categories initially
adopted (Storey et al., 2019; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018)
was eventually evolved as explained latter on in the
The coding was performed individually by two re-
searchers. Later, the researchers jointly reviewed their
classifications to reach a consensus on the categoriza-
tion of the data. The results were then discussed with
All answers quoted in this work were translated from
analysts from the Sinergia Project (organization stake-
holders) to validate the final results.
The results of the study are presented in the following
4.1 RQ1 - How Is the Work
Engagement in the Solution
Development Teams?
Figure 1 presents how participants feel at work. Re-
garding Q1, Q2 and Q3, we can see that most respon-
dents considered themselves full of energy, enthusi-
astic about their work, and feel like going to work.
This points to a deep connection with the work ac-
tivity, characterized by vigor, dedication, concentra-
tion and, therefore, less probability of absences and
employee turnover (Vazquez et al., 2015). Concern-
ing questions Q4, Q5 and Q6, most participants con-
sidered themselves proud and involved in their work,
and also that the “time flies” when they were working.
This denotes a sense of significance, inspiration, and
pride in relation to their job (Vazquez et al., 2015).
Lastly, none of the participants answered Never for
questions 1 to 6. Therefore, overall, results indicate
that the participants considered themselves engaged
in their jobs.
Key Finding 1. Overall, participants are
highly engaged in their work.
4.2 RQ2 - How Do Solution
Development Teams Assess the
Dimensions of Psychological Safety,
Team Effectiveness, Performance,
Allocation, and Career
The dimensions psychological safety, team effective-
ness, performance, allocation, and career develop-
ment are related to job satisfaction (Storey et al.,
2019). Figure 1 presents the responses for each of
those dimensions, from Q7 to Q18. Concerning team
effectiveness (Q8 to Q13) and performance (Q14),
we can see a similar assessment by the majority of
participants. Participants are satisfied with the team’s
interaction regarding commitment, problem-solving,
work complexity, impactful work, autonomy, and
Software Engineers Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Survey with Practitioners Working Remotely in a Public Organization
Figure 1: Survey responses.
collaboration. The respondents showed more con-
cerns regarding communication (Q9) and team’s goals
(Q10), still less than 20% answered Never, Almost
Never or Occasionally to those questions.
Psychological safety (Q7) and allocation (Q15)
are also positively seen by participants. Google re-
searchers found psychological safety to be the most
significant factor for team’s success, and establishing
psychologically safe environments as essential to the
organization (Duhigg, 2016). As software team build-
ing is an important project management activity, the
right team size is critical to avoid allocation overhead
issues (Costa et al., 2020).
Career development (Q16 to Q18) caused the
most concern within the teams. The responses Never,
Almost Never or Occasionally are around 40% of the
total answers for Q17. Previous studies have pointed
to the importance of the manager showing appreci-
ation and giving good feedback about the work, as
well as to the need for good communication within
the team (Storey et al., 2019; Beecham et al., 2008;
Duhigg, 2016; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018).
Key Finding 2. Clear career development
practices are a central concern when evaluat-
ing job satisfaction.
4.3 RQ3 - How Satisfied Are Solution
Development Team Members with
Their Teams?
Figure 2 shows the participants’ evaluation for Q19
(How highly would you recommend your team (your
division) to a friend to work in it?): 63% answered
yes, 26% were neutral, and 11% would not recom-
mend. Later on, when collecting feedback on the sur-
vey, we found out that one important contributing fac-
tor to the neutral and non-recommending responses
was the type of work. Many participants answered
do not recommend” or neutral not because of their
team or their manager, but because of work-related is-
sues such as working with old technologies and legacy
systems, and using bureaucratic workflows.
Figure 2: Participants’ recommendation of the solution de-
velopment teams.
Key Finding 3. Overall, participants are sat-
isfied with their teams. However, technical
factors (e.g., use of old technologies, work on
legacy systems, and using bureaucratic work-
flows) can play an important role in not rec-
ommend their team to a friend to work in it.
4.4 RQ4 - What Factors Can Be
Improved in the Work
Among the 148 participants, 61 did not answer the
open-ended question and six of them reported being
satisfied with the work environment and did not see
any need of improvement (e.g., P
answered ”Any-
thing. Perfect. Best team I worked”). Thus, we coded
the answers from 81 participants. We found 28 soft
and two technical factors.
4.4.1 Soft Factors
These are factors related to human aspects. Table 1
shows the coded categories and soft factors. Team
(29), Management (22), and Rewards, Benefits, and
Career (15) are among the most cited categories. The
value in parentheses is relative to the frequency of
each category and coded factor.
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Key finding 4. Soft skills related to Team,
Management, and Rewards, Benefits and Ca-
reer look determinant to improve work envi-
Team. Responses in this category are linked to team
improvements. Communication (13) and social inter-
actions (5) stand out as the most mentioned. Partici-
pants also mentioned psychological safety (3), collab-
oration (3), skilled co-workers (2), team culture (2)
and innovation support (1) as factors that need im-
Communication (13) concerns the degree and ef-
ficiency with which information flows in the team
(Wagner and Ruhe, 2018; Forsgren et al., 2021). For
instance, P
reported that ”less aggressive and more
empathetic communication”. The organization must
intensify the adoption of good practices to maintain a
communication flow between team members as this
factor can be correlated to the success of a project
and have a positive impact on productivity (Wagner
and Ruhe, 2018). Ensuring access to tools, infras-
tructure, and organizational resources, besides, keep-
ing communication channels open, sharing essential
work information, and a space for informal talks are
fundamental communication strategies for companies
(Johnson et al., 2019; Ju
ırez et al., 2021;
Miller et al., 2021).
The social interactions (5) factor concerns inter-
actions, events and social connections between team
members (Miller et al., 2021). For instance, P
ported that ”I would promote get-togethers in order
to celebrate the team’s results and foster the team’s
proximity”. Three participants mentioned the factor
psychological safety, which we questioned in Q7. As
we can see in Figure 1, some respondents (approxi-
mately 21%) think that almost never, occasionally or
regularly team members feel they can fail or speak out
without feeling inhibited or pressured.
Management. In this category, factors refer to the
team manager roles. It includes factors such as meet-
ing planning (5), feedback (5), clear priorities (4),
appreciation shown for work (3), autonomy (3), and
well-defined goals (2), as reported by P
: ”I would
seek more equity in the tasks valuation”.
As for the meeting planning (5) factor, responses
mentioned problems in the proper planning of meet-
ings. This factor had not been previously listed as
an important factor for productivity by (Storey et al.,
2019; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018), however the par-
ticipants of our survey mentioned the need for bet-
ter planning and organization of meetings to better
use their time. Too many meetings or poorly con-
ducted meetings can become a waste of time and a
challenge for developer productivity (Beecham et al.,
2008; Ju
ırez et al., 2021).
Managers can be essential for making clear de-
cisions and facilitating collaboration between teams,
being decisive for the performance and efficiency of
employees (Harrel and Barbato, 2018). They must
understand and be able to provide feedback to benefit
their engineers (Storey et al., 2019).
The feedback (5) factor relates to giving informa-
tion about performance effectiveness. Software engi-
neers suffer from a low level of feedback, while di-
rect and immediate evaluation contributes to under-
standing work results and building a self-perception
of their actual performance (Beecham et al., 2008;
Franc¸a et al., 2018). This is aligned with answers
of some participants for questions Q16 and Q18, in
which they indicated never, almost never or occa-
sionally for receiving feedback and for recognition for
their work (see Figure 1). For example, P
that he(she) wanted to ”Get more feedback from my
Rewards, Benefits, Career. In this category, we have
factors such as lateral move opportunities (6) and ben-
efits (4). For instance, P
responded that ”An ac-
knowledgment or award individually linked to a re-
sult / delivery of value, and not linked to a specific
deadline”. In general, the participants consider that
there should be more opportunities to change projects
or teams.
Participants also mentioned the need of improve-
ments related to salary (3) and career promotions (2).
This shows that some participants also want more
equity in the distribution of promotions and salary
progression. When considering these challenges,
managers can propose alternative incentive strategies,
such as useful knowledge as a reward (Franc¸a et al.,
Individual Skills and Experiences. In this category,
we coded two responses as a personality (2) factor.
They mentioned conflicts between different tempera-
ments in the team. P
, for example, reported that ”I
would make with a colleague of mine that, if he did
not have ’personal nitpicking’, that person would be
my friend.... The combination of different temper-
aments and personalities can affect the performance
and satisfaction of team members, being important for
good coexistence, communication, collaboration and
psychological safety of the team Wagner and Ruhe
Organization. We coded responses that mention the
vision (3) factor in this category. This relates to the
organizational vision and culture (Wagner and Ruhe,
2018). Employees must understand the culture and
organizational vision (Storey et al., 2019). P
, for
example, mentioned ”Have a broader view of the de-
partment’s performance in the global context of the
Software Engineers Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Survey with Practitioners Working Remotely in a Public Organization
Personal Productivity. In this category, we coded
two responses as ability to achieve goals (1) and per-
ceived productivity (1), which are related to achieving
goals and considering themselves productive within
the company (Sharp et al., 2009).
Project. We coded the six responses, all related to
the team size factor, in this category. For instance,
mentioned ”To increase team size”. These an-
swers suggest the need to re-evaluate the number of
people in the team, possibly reallocating people, in-
creasing teams, or evaluating their workload (Costa
et al., 2020; Wagner and Ruhe, 2018).
Training. In this category, we coded responses re-
lated to the training factor (6). Participants mentioned
that they would like more training. For instance, P
said ”I would seek training for myself and the team in
skills and competencies that today are seen as gaps”).
It is critical that software engineers can broaden their
skills, specialize in the domain of tools and technolo-
gies, and also widen their soft skills (Storey et al.,
Work Life/Work Experience. In this category, we
found the factor time to complete tasks (7), as exem-
plified by P
in ”I would assign tasks with deadlines
suited to the capacity of the team”. It is important
that software engineers have enough time to complete
their tasks and to learn how to carry out their activities
(Storey et al., 2019).
Work Type/Impact. Some job complexity factors
can affect job performance and well-being, as it can
increase satisfaction by challenging software engi-
neers (Storey et al., 2019). However, the company
must balance the complexity and the time available to
complete the tasks. We coded three responses as work
complexity because they mentioned the need for more
variety, significance and complexity. For instance,
mentioned that ”Find challenging activities for
the team”.
Key Finding 5. We identified two new fac-
tors that can contribute to improving the work
environment: (appropriate) meeting planning
and (promote) social interactions.
Working Environment. Regarding this category, we
coded the factors proximity to team (5), physical en-
vironment (2), and e-factor (1). We classified as prox-
imity to team answers that mention the distance and
lack of contact with team members due to the social
isolation caused by the pandemic. For instance, P
reported ”Currently, just putting an end to the pan-
demic to go back to the office.... Johnson et al. (2019)
noticed that for some software engineers, team prox-
imity is significant, as perceived productivity and sat-
isfaction can increase when the people they work with
are in close proximity. Due to the collaborative na-
ture of software development, the ability to informally
sense if someone is available to initiate a discussion
can facilitate many tasks (Johnson et al., 2019).
Key Finding 6. The soft factors communi-
cation, (appropriate) time to complete tasks,
lateral moving opportunities, training, team
size, (culture of providing) feedback, (appro-
priate) meeting planning, (promote) social
interactions, and proximity to team are fre-
quently seen as factors that can contribute to
improving the work environment, productiv-
ity, satisfaction, and well-being of software
E-factor is related to work interruptions. Software
engineers may feel less satisfied or less productive
with their work depending on how many interruptions
and context changes they face (Wagner and Ruhe,
2018). Interruptions can occur in shared physical
work environments (colleagues talking, telephone, of-
fice noise) as well as in remote work (family, children,
pets, ambient noise), and can delay the work progress
(Beecham et al., 2008; Johnson et al., 2019). Working
in privacy without interruption is a major factor in sat-
isfaction with the work environment (Johnson et al.,
2019). Therefore, some software engineers prefer to
work in private spaces (Storey et al., 2019). However,
the ability to communicate and work collaboratively
is also valued. Hence managers and leaders must bal-
ance the need for individual privacy with the need for
team communication.
4.4.2 Technical Factors
The close-ended questions did not initially foresee
the answers in this category. However, some partic-
ipants pointed out the need for improvements in tech-
nical factors too. We coded four responses in the pro-
cesses and systems category, as hardware (3) and tools
(1) factors. Some participants were concerned with
access to better and more up-to-date equipment and
tools. As an example, P
mentioned that ”I would
always have the most up-to-date equipment, acces-
sories and all possible tools.. These resources also
can impact job satisfaction and productivity (Canedo
and Santos, 2019; Storey et al., 2019).
4.5 Follow up Meetings with Company
We held some meetings with company analysts of the
Sinergia Project who planned the questionnaire. We
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
use their feedback to validate the results of the qual-
itative analysis. We presented the coded factors and
discussed our interpretation with them.
When evaluating the results, the experience of the
analysts was crucial for an accurate interpretation.
For instance, they observed that participants would
not recommend their team to a friend (see RQ3 on
Section 4.3) because of issues related to the type of
work such as obsolete technology, legacy system, and
bureaucratic workflow. In another example, regarding
the interpretation of the communication issues men-
tioned by participants, at first, we assumed it could be
related to the proximity to team. However, accord-
ing to the analysts’ experience, it was not the case.
In fact, the reported problems could also affect onsite
work teams as well. Results presented in subsection
4.4 already consider the results of follow up meetings.
Table 1: Soft factors that can be improved, according to
survey participants.
Category Factor N
Individual skills and experiences(2) Personality 2
Management (22)
Well-defined goals 2
Appreciation shown for
Autonomy 3
Clear priorities 4
Feedback 5
Meeting planning 5
Organization (3) Vision 3
Personal productivity (2)
Ability to achieve goals 1
Perceived productivity 1
Project (6) Team size 6
Rewards, benefits, and career (15)
Promotion 2
Salary 3
Benefits 4
Lateral move opportunities 6
Team culture 2
Collaborative team 3
Social interactions 5
Communication 13
Psychological safety 3
Support for innovation 1
Skilled co-workers 2
Training (6) 6
Work life/work experience (7) Time to complete tasks 7
Work type/impact (3) Work complexity (3) 3
Work environment (8)
Proximity to team 5
Physical working environ-
e-factor 1
In this study, we present the assessment of work en-
gagement and job satisfaction by software profes-
sionals working remotely in a large governmental
software organization. Considering the practitioners
perspective, we highlight career development, psy-
chological safety, team management and rewards,
benefits, meeting planning, and social interaction
as important factors requiring more attention from
similar organizations aiming at job satisfaction (Sec-
tion 5.1). Considering the researchers perspective, we
highlight the need to explore: i) meeting planning
and social interactions as new factors building on
the factors originally listed by Storey et al. (2019)
and Wagner and Ruhe (2018) (Section 5.3), ii) the
importance of considering different approaches to in-
vestigate work engagement and job satisfaction (Sec-
tion 5.2), iii) different organizational and cultural con-
texts to build a broader base of empirical knowledge
on work motivation and job satisfaction (Section 5.4),
and iv) the strengthening of partnerships between the
industry and academia to study the subject (Section
5.1 Revisiting the Research Questions
Concerning work engagement (RQ1), the survey par-
ticipants showed a deep connection with work activ-
ity and also a sense of significance and pride in rela-
tion to their job. Regarding job satisfaction (RQ2),
the participants assigned most negative scores to the
following dimensions: career development (feed-
back, career development and appreciation for work),
allocation, and psychological safety. In the open-
ended questions, most of the respondents mentioned
the categories team, management and rewards, ben-
efits and career as points that should be improved.
Hence we understand that the participants are more
concerned with these categories and dimensions, re-
quiring more significant attention from the organiza-
tion to improve them.
Even so, when asked if they would recommend
their team to a friend to work on it, 63% of the re-
spondents would recommend it (RQ3).
5.2 Relating the Open-Ended and
Closed Questions
Despite the high level of engagement and satisfac-
tion observed in the self-reported questionnaire, we
found significant factors reported as impacting em-
ployee satisfaction after coding the open-ended re-
sponses to RQ4 (see Section 4.4). We compared
the open-ended responses with the closed-ended re-
Software Engineers Engagement and Job Satisfaction: A Survey with Practitioners Working Remotely in a Public Organization
sponses of each participant. For instance, communi-
cation was the most mentioned factor in open-ended
responses as a point to be improved. However, Fig-
ure 1 shows that 88% of the participants considered
that team members frequently, almost always, or al-
ways, communicate with each other. We observed
that even after positively evaluating the dimensions in
the closed questionnaire, the respondents reinforced
the need for improvements, pointing out the factors
categorized in subsection 4.4. For responses coded
as communication factor, we analyzed how the par-
ticipants rated Q9. When problems or delays oc-
cur, team members proactively communicate with
each other and commit to the solution. We found
that, among these respondents, all of them rated Q9
positively. The same happened with participants who
mentioned the factors psychological safety and well-
defined goals in comparison to Q7. I notice that
team members feel they can fail or speak out with-
out feeling inhibited or pressured and Q10. I notice
that team members know what the team’s goals
Thus, we considered that the open-ended ques-
tion, asking the participants what they would do with
a magic wand (Q20), encouraged the creativity and
critical thinking of the respondents. This allowed a
deeper understanding of the aspects evaluated in the
survey and the surfacing of ideas that were not ini-
tially foreseen in the closed questions.
5.3 Additional Factors Considered by
the Participants
We consider the classifications of Storey et al. (2019)
and Wagner and Ruhe (2018) as an extensive list of
factors impacting satisfaction and productivity. How-
ever, we found two additional factors that were not
considered by Storey et al. (2019) and Wagner and
Ruhe (2018) as important to job satisfaction. We
added the meeting planning factor in the manage-
ment category and social interactions in the team cat-
egory. Five participants of our survey mentioned the
need for better planning and organization of meetings.
Social interactions was the second most mentioned
factor in the team category, also pointed by five re-
spondents. They wanted more interactions, events and
social connections between team members.
Improper meeting planning can be a waste of
time and a challenge for developers (Beecham et al.,
2008; Ju
ırez et al., 2021), potentially im-
pacting in productivity. Missing social interactions
can affect connection and interpersonal communica-
tion with team members, impacting developers pro-
ductivity (Miller et al., 2021). We recommend that
these two factors should be considered by future
works that address job satisfaction of software prac-
titioners. The company analysts also considered these
findings as a relevant contribution to their organiza-
tion, since they had not perceived them before.
5.4 Implications for Researchers
Franc¸a et al. (2018) consider that there are few stud-
ies on work motivation and job satisfaction in soft-
ware engineering and they are still concentrate on de-
veloped countries. Thus, aspects such as the cultural
difference concerning the reality of different cultures
are also not widely understood. We consider that the
results presented in this work are little explored and
there is still a gap for further investigation. Consid-
ering the factors that affect job satisfaction and pro-
ductivity proposed by Storey et al. (2019) and Wag-
ner and Ruhe (2018), our survey appointed two new
factors (meeting planning and social interactions).
This result represents a contribution for researchers.
In our work, we used NPS to measure how satis-
fied are team members with their teams (see section
3.3). Bendle et al. (2019) emphasize the value of aca-
demic partnership with practitioners to achieve rele-
vant and robust research regarding the use of NPS.
Our survey shows how it can be used to assess practi-
tioners’ satisfaction with their teams.
Another important aspect of our study is the
partnership between software industry and academia,
since field research addressing human factors in the
software industry is still rising, specially in develop-
ing countries (Cerqueira et al., 2022).
There are relationships between the identified fac-
tors that lends itself for further research. For instance,
feedback and psychological safety are related to com-
munication, as well as personality and social inter-
actions (DeFranco and Laplante, 2017; Miller et al.,
2021). Communication was the most mentioned fac-
tor by the participants, who pointed out the need for
better communication, empathy development, reduc-
ing aggressive behaviors and improving socialization
among team members. There is a broad need for soft-
ware engineering research focused on team commu-
nication (DeFranco and Laplante, 2017). But in par-
ticular, we highlight the need to deepen the research
to understand and measure how skills and behaviors
related to communication affect teamwork, satisfac-
tion and engagement of software practitioners. Future
work can use our results to compare how remote and
onsite work affect job satisfaction.
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 3: Work improvement frame.
There are some threats to validity in this work, as with
any other empirical study. Below, we discuss the most
relevant threats to our study.
Conclusion Validity. A threat arises from the quali-
tative analysis because it is subjective and subject to
inconsistencies. We used this analysis to answer RQ4.
To mitigate this threat, two researchers individually
analyzed and coded all open-ended questions. Later,
they compared and refined their results until reaching
consensus. Finally, results of the qualitative analysis
were presented and discussed with the professionals
for validation.
Construct Validity. Overall, participants may, based
on the fact that they are part of a study, act differ-
ently than they do otherwise. To help prevent hy-
pothesis guessing and evaluation apprehension, in the
invitation e-mail, we clearly explain the purpose of
the study and ask the participants to answer ques-
tions based on their own experience. The question-
naire is anonymous and that the collected data is an-
alyzed without taking into consideration the partici-
pants’ identities.
Internal Validity. As the survey questions were
answered remotely, the participants could misunder-
stand these questions, arising an internal threat af-
fect our study. To mitigate it, the survey passed
through internal reviews conducted by experienced
researchers. Afterwards, we piloted the survey with
79 employees to assess the survey questions, struc-
ture, and duration. We decided to shorten the ques-
tionnaire after validation of the pilot study.
External Validity. The company we studied employs
around 7,700 people, working on software products
for the government. Our results likely generalize
more to the context of large public software compa-
nies than to small, private or open-source organiza-
tions. Hence, we do not claim that our results are
generalizable for general contexts. However, an argu-
ment can be made that the ecological validity Andrade
(2018) of the work, i.e., the extent to which these find-
ings approximate other real-world scenarios, is likely
to hold in other settings.
This work investigates the work engagement and job
satisfaction of software practitioners working in a re-
mote environment. The study is based on a survey
carried out at a large governmental software organi-
zation. In total, 148 software professionals answered
the survey.
Results reveal that career development, psycho-
logical safety, team, management and rewards,
benefits, meeting planning and social interactions
are factors that organizations need to pay more at-
tention, because they affect the satisfaction of soft-
ware professionals. These factors can change depend-
ing on the context, organization, characteristics of the
teams and work environment (Canedo and Santos,
2019). We also found that meeting planning and so-
cial interactions are factors that should be considered
by studies addressing job satisfaction. These factors
were not previously identified by the studies of Storey
et al. (2019); Wagner and Ruhe (2018).
The results of this work can directly benefit prac-
titioners, since the leveraged skills provide empirical
reference for improving work environments. We sum-
marized the most commonly mentioned of these skills
in a cheat sheet presented in Figure 3. The proposi-
tion of interventions and improvements for the factors
identified in our analysis is subject to future work.
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