How 2023 changed the way developers work

As a developer, you are likely well accustomed to working in an ever-changing landscape. However, the recent past has perhaps made this environment even more challenging. Let's take a look together at how 2023 has changed the way developers work and how you may succeed in this current, somewhat demanding environment.

During the year 2023, the work life of developers and other tech talents faced drastic changes. The world's recovery after a global pandemic, geo-political instability, layoffs in the technology industry, and a continuously rising cost of living were just a few major events that shook the market during the past year. Many of these events also continue to have a compounding effect in how tech talents work in the future.

Personal preferences have changed

One of the most drastic shifts that we have noticed, given our line of work at Thriv, is that, on a global scale, the preferences of developers have changed.

Stack Overflow noted in October 2023 that flexibility (the ability to work flexible hours or remotely, etc.) was far more important to people than having learning or self-development opportunities. This shift is especially interesting when viewed from our business perspective - in the context of entrepreneurs.

Every person who decides to embark on the journey toward independence does so for a reason, and for many, that reason has been the freedom to choose the project and client according to nothing other than their own criteria. However, in today's market, these principles are being challenged.

Technology preferences have also changed

When it comes to the type of projects available, the previously mentioned compounding of events really shows. Consider this: during the pandemic, many people reskilled to combat the effects on some industries on their income and saw the digital field as more secure. At this time, companies also heavily invested in their digital presence as ‘traditional’ ways of doing business were challenged for many.

Then came the economic crisis, which meant that companies were less willing to invest in project work, and that same crisis brought with it also layoffs, saturating the job market with talent looking for work.

To summarise, there is less project work to be done by more available people. In certain roles, that is. This is why, for instance, we saw a sharp drop in what we could call the ‘most common’ technology stack, which was for a number of years the main stack our clients requested. You guessed it: Node, React, and TypeScript.

Today, clients (in our context at least) look more toward data abilities in terms of data engineers or scientists alongside architects and skill in the ever-emerging AI-related market. These roles simply are still not available in the market to the extent of those previously described, and yet these areas become more and more crucial to our clients.

The invisible dance of demand and supply

As more talent became available in the job market, companies were simply able to fill their open positions with relative ease for the first time in what feels like a long time. However, this is not true for all roles, hence the change in terms of desire for what technology to work with.

Stack Overflow (again) showed in their survey that developers would most like to work with languages like Rust, Elixir, and Zig. However, we can see from this index, for instance, that work mostly happens in languages like C, C++, and Java. This is also echoed in our experience.

When we match people to projects, we take great care to go beyond ‘hard skills’ and consider the personality and, most importantly, the ambition of people. This includes, of course, what technology they would like to work with. We have seen a change here with people putting their personal preference aside somewhat and showing more overall willingness to work with technologies preferred by clients.

In reference to this, we have also seen a continued increase in hourly rates for those working with a technology or in a field that matches the client’s current buying behavior. Being willing and able to work within these sectors, either by learning something new or by activating an existing set of knowledge that may not be your preferred choice, economic success can be found.

The happy (or at least not depressing) conclusion

So, where does all this leave us for what is to come in 2024? As a developer, you might need to consider client behavior more at this time and how it correlates with your own ambitions. That could mean working with a different technology stack in the short term, for instance.

The good news is that, no, developers are most likely not being replaced by LLMs any time soon. If anything, the need for software only increases, so there are exciting opportunities ahead as the economy recovers. Being flexible as a talent (and not just demanding flexibility from a client) is a good foundation to find success, also in the short term.

Ready to discover what we at Thriv have to offer? Reach out to us and let's talk!

Thomas Janhonen - CTO

Thomas Janhonen