The tech industry can be a difficult place to stay mentally well. Working remotely, especially under unprecedented circumstances, can make a difficult situation worse. Here are some tips on how you can prevent mental health problems.

Give the gift of self-dependence

This ability to have a bit more “life” alongside the work is really beneficial for your own well-being.

Daniel Pink covers how autonomy, mastery and purpose are the main drivers of motivation in his book “Drive”. Motivation, recognition and confidence are key to successful software development work. Being empowered to contribute toward a wider goal using your skills is way more rewarding.

According to research from Haystack, 83% of developers report burnout. That’s why the employers should be careful when they set realistic expectations for the software developers.

Education says you care

As an employer, you can invest in developers as individuals as well. Some companies offer generous training budgets or time off. If you don’t have the opportunity to provide a budget for study, you could still book one day a month to just learn something or ask for a one-hour tutorial from someone else to get you started on a new topic.

Freedom to work

Rewarding developers with money doesn’t work as a motivator. Giving them time and trusting them to use it for something other than direct product engineering work have a bigger  impact.

Google famously uses an approach of giving 20% of a worker’s time to be used for anything they found interesting. Atlassian is also famous for doing something similar, with all employees working for 24 hours on projects of their choice, producing surprising innovations and improvements that might never have shipped otherwise.

Lessons from open source

Whether remote by choice or circumstance, remote software teams today have much more impressive communication tools available.

However, all this connectivity can lead to added stress and notification fatigue. Software developers are all different. One person’s working style won’t be exactly like another’s. Open source projects work in a way that is respectful of everyone’s time and without much expectation that any one person will be around at any specific time.

Work-life balance

When the pandemic stopped us from our daily commute, many were left with less than ideal work setups.

Even if your developers have been working from home for some time, it’s important to check in whether they need a monitor upgrade, a spare power supply or even a new keyboard.

Take the time to socialize together at work. Some simple online games can lighten the mood. If your company offers an EAP (employee assistance program), make sure that all of your employees know about it and how to access it. It doesn’t hurt to remind managers that the programs are there for them, too, not just the people on their teams.

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