DevOps Report: Cloud Boosts Employee Well-Being Along with Infrastructure Flexibility

Cloud computing obviously gives organizations infrastructure flexibility, but a perhaps less well-known benefit is happier, more productive workers.

In Google's latest annual report on the state of DevOps, flexible infrastructure tops the list of cloud computing advantages, a list that includes improved well-being for employees.

Those findings come in the cloud giant's latest edition of its nine-year "2023 Accelerate State of DevOps Report" series.

In a departure from the usual tech-centric hardware/software/processes approach, this year's report focuses on the softer side of things -- people -- so much so that the company used the headline "2023 State of DevOps Report: Culture is everything" in its Oct. 5 report announcement. It starts out: "In the face of rapid digital transformation, a positive organizational culture and user-centric design are the backbone of successful software delivery."

Culture, specifically "establish a healthy culture," is the first of five key insights presented by Google Cloud's DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) team. The report address organizational culture in a high-trust context of optimized information flow, which results in generative organizational culture.

"Culture is foundational to building technical capabilities, igniting technical performance, reaching organizational performance goals, and helping employees be successful," Google said. "A healthy culture can help reduce burnout, increase productivity, and increase job satisfaction. Teams with generative cultures, composed of people who felt included and like they belonged on their team, have 30 percent higher organizational performance than organizations without a generative culture."

Another key insight is increasing and leveraging infrastructure flexibility, with the report identifying associated characteristics that lead to more value from the cloud such as:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured service

"Using a public cloud, for example, leads to a 22 percent increase in infrastructure flexibility relative to not using the cloud," Google said. "This flexibility, in turn, leads to teams with 30 percent higher organizational performance than those with inflexible infrastructures."

And, tying all the insights together, is the cloud.

[Click on image for larger view.] Cloud Computing Improves Well-Being (source: Google).

"The data shows that cloud computing is largely beneficial to employee well-being," the 95-page, math-heavy report said. "We see a substantial increase in both job satisfaction and productivity, and a neutral or positive impact on burnout. Said another way, cloud doesn't have a detrimental effect on well-being even though cloud computing comes with additional cognitive burden, learning new tools, and new ways of working."

Google hypothesizes that there are several reasons for the cloud increasing well-being among workers such as engineers, as they like learning and solving problems, which can not only be fun but also help develop careers.

The above data constitutes three key outcomes and the capabilities that contribute to achieving positive outcomes explored in the report:

  • Organizational performance -- The organization should produce not only revenue, but value for customers, as well as for the extended community.
  • Team performance -- The ability for an application or service team to create value, innovate, and collaborate.
  • Employee well-being -- The strategies an organization or team adopts should benefit the employees -- reduce burnout, foster a satisfying job experience, and increase people's ability to produce valuable outputs (that is, productivity).

Those explorations resulted in this list of key findings:

  • Establish a healthy culture: Culture is foundational to building technical capabilities, igniting technical performance, reaching organizational performance goals, and helping employees be successful. Teams with generative cultures have 30 percent higher organizational performance.
  • Build with users in mind: A user focus can inform and drive improvements across all of the technical, process, and cultural capabilities we explore in our research. Teams can deploy as fast and successfully as they'd like, but without the user in mind, it might be for naught. Teams that focus on the user have 40 percent higher organizational performance.
  • Unlock software delivery performance with faster code reviews: Speeding up code reviews is one of the most effective paths to improving software delivery performance. Teams with faster code reviews have 50 percent higher software delivery performance.
  • Amplify technical capabilities with quality documentation: High-quality documentation amplifies the impact that technical capabilities have on organizational performance. Trunk-based development, for example, is estimated to have 12.8x more impact on organizational performance when high-quality documentation is in place relative to low-quality documentation.
  • Increase infrastructure flexibility with cloud: Cloud computing is beneficial because it creates a flexible infrastructure. Using a public cloud, for example, leads to a 22 percent increase in infrastructure flexibility relative to not using the cloud. This flexibility, in turn, leads to 30 percent higher organizational performance than inflexible infrastructures. To get the most value out of the cloud, the key is to take advantage of the differentiating characteristics and capabilities cloud has to offer, namely infrastructure flexibility.
  • Balance delivery speed, operational performance, and user focus: You need both strong software delivery performance and strong operational performance for organizational performance to see its fullest potential. Keeping these two balanced with a user focus yields the best organizational results while also improving employee well-being.
  • Distribute work fairly: People who identify as underrepresented and women or those who chose to self-describe their gender have higher levels of burnout. There are likely multiple systematic and environmental factors that cause this effect. Unsurprisingly, we find that respondents who take on more repetitive work are more likely to experience higher levels of burnout, and members of underrepresented groups are more likely to take on more repetitive work. Underrepresented respondents have 24 percent more burnout than those who are not underrepresented. Underrepresented respondents do 29 percent more repetitive work than those who are not underrepresented. Women or those who self-described their gender do 40 percent more repetitive work than men.

"The key takeaway from DORA's research is that high performance requires continuous improvement. Regularly measure outcomes across your organization, teams, and employees. Identify areas for optimization and make incremental changes to dial up performance," Google concluded, offering up a DevOps Quick Check to help organizations measure their software delivery performance.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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