The mass shift to working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the way many software development teams collaborate and communicate. To investigate how team culture and team productivity may also have been affected, we conducted two surveys at a large software company. The first, an exploratory survey during the early months of the pandemic with 2,265 developer responses, revealed that many developers faced challenges reaching milestones and that their team productivity had changed. We also found through qualitative analysis that important team culture factors such as communication and social connection had been affected. For example, the simple phrase “How was your weekend?” had become a subtle way to show peer support.
In our second survey, we conducted a quantitative analysis of the team cultural factors that emerged from our first survey to understand the prevalence of the reported changes. From 608 developer responses, we found that 74% of these respondents missed social interactions with colleagues and 51% reported a decrease in their communication ease with colleagues. We used data from the second survey to build a regression model to identify important team culture factors for modeling team productivity. We found that the ability to brainstorm with colleagues, difficulty communicating with colleagues, and satisfaction with interactions from social activities are important factors associated with how developers report their software development team’s productivity. Our findings inform how managers and leaders in large software companies can support sustained team productivity during times of crisis and beyond.