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VMblog Expert Interview: Aaron Upright of Zenhub Talks about Developer Happiness and its Impact on Business Productivity


Zenhub recently launched the results of its 2022 Software Developer Happiness report and its impact on business productivity.  To find out more, VMblog reached out to Aaron Upright, co-founder of Zenhub, to get the details.

VMblog:  Before we get started, can you give VMblog viewers a quick background on Zenhub and its role in software development?

Aaron Upright:  Zenhub actually started as an internal solution at a tech incubator called Axiom Zen, which is also famous for starting Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties and NBA TopShot. In brief, Zenhub enables software teams at high-growth organizations like startups and scale-ups to build better code faster with its developer-friendly productivity and project management platform. Zenhub dramatically boosts collaboration and coordination for teams working in GitHub with automated agile features, real-time roadmap visibility, and team productivity insights. More than 8,000 disruptive software teams worldwide rely on Zenhub to ship great code faster.

VMblog:  You announced a new report on Developer Happiness. What is the objective of this report?

Upright:  The 2022 Software Developer Happiness report is based on a survey of 380 software professionals. It is the first to truly show a quantitative link between developer happiness and productivity. Its objective is to provide clarity on the priorities, goals, and challenges of software developers, but also to help those who work with developers identify how to create a happier and more productive environment by understanding the state of developer's work life and what matters to them. This inaugural report provides insights into what software developers look for in their careers, organizational culture, and the tools they use to complete their jobs.

VMblog:  What are some of the key takeaways from the data provided?

Upright:  Probably the primary finding is that developers are happiest and stay at their jobs longer when empowered to focus on building code. This means spending less time interacting with management, attending meetings, or resolving and integrating multiple solutions.  The results of the report also emphasized the importance of work-life balance in encouraging developers to stay at their current job for longer, while poor work-life balance accelerates the hunt for another job. These insights into developer retention are especially critical as, according to the report, 71% of developers haven't decided how long they'll stay with their current employer. The report also suggested that 33% of developers have stayed in a job longer than usual due to the pandemic, which could mean an increase in developer turnover as the pandemic comes to an end.

Another key finding is that collaboration challenges are viewed as the biggest impediment to developer productivity. Delays in feedback results in lost productivity; nearly 70% lose a minimum of 3 hours per week per developer and 75% spend at least an hour per week on reporting instead of writing code.

Finally, developers say their biggest priority is ensuring their software keeps up with the business's demands, and most developers want high-performance productivity tools. In fact, 93% of developers believe these tools are critical to their success.

VMblog:  What recommendations does Zenhub have for software development teams, product leads, and CTO/CIOs?

Upright:  For team leads and more senior management, the biggest way to increase developer happiness is simply to let them focus on coding. Developers like to showcase their skills, so encouraging them to work on interesting and impactful projects that challenge their skill sets is a great way to boost morale. Ensuring an appropriate work-life balance and paying the developers competitively are the other two recommendations for improving developer retention.

Developers can boost their own happiness at work by embracing a diverse set of interests and activities, while also choosing to work in an environment that enables them to be their most focused and productive.

VMblog:  Where can our viewers get a hold of the detailed results?

Upright:  The full report provides further detailed analyst recommendations for project managers, product owners, team leads, and executives. The entire report and its ground-breaking insights can be downloaded for free here:


Aaron Upright co-founded Zenhub in 2015 as a company to empower software development with flexible workflow and organization within GitHub using a fully featured integrated project management platform for Agile development. Zenhub helps development teams build better software faster. Aaron currently serves as the Head of Strategic Accounts, managing both strategic partnerships and customer relationships, while helping current and prospective users get the most out of their experience with Zenhub. Previous to founding Zenhub, Aaron served on the team at technology incubator, AxiomZen, where he focused on developing go-to-market strategies for early-stage companies. It was here that Aaron formed Zenhub.

Published Friday, September 30, 2022 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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