PreprintPDF Available

Where attention goes, energy flows - enhancing individual sustainability in software engineering

Preprints and early-stage research may not have been peer reviewed yet.


Context: Software engineers are plagued by the same troubles as many others in highly skilled jobs and digitized environments: Ever-expanding to-do lists, time to market pressure from management, deadline-driven development, continuous interruption during working tasks, and the juggle of balancing that with other areas of life (physical, mental and emotional health, family, household, finance, friends, hobbies and community service). Problem: These demands of life in combination with a seemingly ever-increasing pace wear or burn out many people in the long run. Specifically, as software engineers, this also leads to decreased creativity and less efficiency in problem-solving. Generally offered solutions are reducing screen time and spending more time outdoors, both of which are hard to do within the work of a software engineer. On a meta level, if the developers of the systems that run most of our world do not develop individual sustainability with a balanced pace of life, that imbalance propagates into the systems we develop (similar to Conway's Law). Contribution: We argue that mindfulness practices like yoga poses (asanas), breathing practices, and meditation exercises can help individually, and even more effectively in combination. In this exploratory paper, we discuss related work that explores the application of these mitigations in other application domains and propose a research agenda to explore their use within software engineering education and practice. Impact: Engaging with mindfulness practices in the context of software engineering promises to enhance creativity and cognitive problem-solving skills, leading to more efficiency and effectiveness during software development and increased individual sustainability. This, in turn, leads to better team spirit as well as increased economic profit, both in terms of maintaining human capital and customer contract deliverables.
Where aention goes, energy flows — enhancing individual
sustainability in soware engineering
Birgit Penzenstadler
Chalmers|Gothenburg University
Göteborg, Sweden
Lappenranta Lahti University of Technology
Lappenranta, Finland
Software engineers are plagued by the same troubles as
many others in highly skilled jobs and digitized environments: Ever-
expanding to-do lists, time to market pressure from management,
deadline-driven development, continuous interruption during work-
ing tasks, and the juggle of balancing that with other areas of life
(physical, mental and emotional health, family, household, nance,
friends, hobbies and community service).
These demands of life in combination with a seem-
ingly ever-increasing pace wear or burn out many people in the
long run. Specically, as software engineers, this also leads to de-
creased creativity and less eciency in problem-solving. Generally
oered solutions are reducing screen time and spending more time
outdoors, both of which are hard to do within the work of a soft-
ware engineer. On a meta level, if the developers of the systems
that run most of our world do not develop individual sustainability
with a balanced pace of life, that imbalance propagates into the
systems we develop (similar to Conway’s Law).
We argue that mindfulness practices like yoga
poses (asanas), breathing practices, and meditation exercises can
help individually, and even more eectively in combination. In
this exploratory paper, we discuss related work that explores the
application of these mitigations in other application domains and
propose a research agenda to explore their use within software
engineering education and practice.
Engaging with mindfulness practices in the context of
software engineering promises to enhance creativity and cognitive
problem-solving skills, leading to more eciency and eectiveness
during software development and increased individual sustainabil-
ity. This, in turn, leads to better team spirit as well as increased
economic prot, both in terms of maintaining human capital and
customer contract deliverables.
Social and professional topics;
Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or
classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed
for prot or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation
on the rst page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM
must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish,
to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specic permission and/or a
fee. Request permissions from
ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK
©2020 Association for Computing Machinery.
individual sustainability, software engineering, meditation, breath-
work, yoga
ACM Reference Format:
Birgit Penzenstadler. 2020. Where attention goes, energy ows — enhancing
individual sustainability in software engineering. In Intl. Conf. ICT4S, June
22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 8 pages.
“Always ask yourself if what you are doing today is
getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
— Paulo Coelho
Lavallée and Robillard [
] found in a ten month study that
many decisions made under the pressure of certain organizational
factors negatively aected software quality. These organizational
factors are manifold and, while they can partly be addressed by
management, the individual developer needs to face the stress
caused by the resulting pressure. Stress factors have a negative
inuence on cognitive task performance [35].
The pace of life and the numerous demands of life are a topic
that has us concerned as professionals as well as in our private
lives, as described by Brown [
] in her book “Speed: facing our
addiction to fast and faster–and overcoming our fear of slowing
down”. Especially in the US, but spreading almost globally, over-
scheduling and double-booking have been signs of progress and
belonging for two decades. Progress equals fast, and fast equals
success, which is a recipe for addiction [7].
Software developers are often willing to work late for project
deadlines because “forgoing sleep appears to be a badge of honor
in the programmers and start-up communities” [
], leading to
burnout [
]. Sleep deprivation and disrupted circadian rhythms
may lead to adverse metabolic consequences [
], all the way up to
increasing the risk for developing cancer [
]. This also leads to
economic losses, recognized in the US, but also United Kingdom,
Japan, Germany, and Canada [
], estimated between $280 billion
and $411 billion for the US in 2020, depending on the scenario, and
between $88 billion and $138 billion for Japan.
Problem: We are dealing an unsustainable working style, due to
many factors, and there is need for interventions. As a mitigation of
those individual and economic sustainability risks, what should be
our professional code of conduct in terms of looking after ourselves?
It is recognized that we have legal obligations as well as ethical
and social ones. But what are our professional obligations? We as
software engineers are overcoming some of the clichés of living
Preprint of the Intl. Conf. on ICT for Sustainability 2020
ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK Birgit Penzenstadler
on coee and cold pizza, but we are far from being stereotyped as
healthy and wholesome profession.
Impact: If our software developers do not have good self-care prac-
tices that support individual sustainability, how do we prevent that
from informing their designs? Conway’s law [
] has been found to
be applicable for propagating institutional structure and values into
software code by Herbsleb and Grinter a long time ago [
], even in
scientic computing [
]. If unsustainable behavior propagates into
the systems they develop, using these software systems will not
be exposing the users to more sustainable behavior either. Lastly,
this work contributes to the third Sustainable Development Goal
“ensure health and well-being for all” [21].
Research Objective: To explore the use of mindfulness practices in
the context of software engineering education and practice. This
needs to be broken down into a number of research questions,
amongst them. (1) how to integrate mindfulness practices eec-
tively into software engineering education and practice in the least
intrusive way, (2) how to measure the eectiveness of such in-
terventions in terms of cognitive abilities, energy levels and self
perception and (3) how to predict good timing for interventions
such that they don’t disturb moments of ow but enhance energy
levels when needed.
Contribution: This paper proposes a vision and research agenda
that detail the objective and questions mentioned in the previous
Outline: The next section introduces background and related work,
followed by preliminary work, a vision of the future, the research
agenda, a discussion of the research agenda, and concluding re-
2.1 Individual sustainability
Penzenstadler and Femmer [
] initially dened individual sus-
tainability in the context of software engineering according to
Goodland [
]: Individual sustainability refers to the maintenance
of the private good of individual human capital. The health, educa-
tion, skills, knowledge, leadership and access to services constitute
human capital.
Becker et al. [
] rened this into: “The individual dimension
covers individual freedom and agency (the ability to act in an envi-
ronment), human dignity and fulllment. It includes the ability of
individuals to thrive, exercise their rights and develop freely.
In their literature study, Nazir et al. [
] shortened this to “Indi-
viduals’ self-respect, education, freedom, physical and mental well
Pappas adds that “Individual sustainability includes possessing a
well-developed and demonstrated value system that acknowledges
the importance and interconnectedness of all global biological and
social systems, and our appropriate place within them.” [
]. We
refer to his denition of a sustainable individual later in this paper.
2.2 Yoga Basics
In Sanskrit, the word Yoga means union, or “to yoke” as a metaphor
to bring together body, mind and spirit. The word Yoga originates
from the Sanskrit word Yuj (literally, “to yoke”) and is generally
translated as “union” or “integration” — to yoke, attach, join, or
unite. The “union” referred to here is that of the individual soul with
the cosmos, the Supreme; of the small “self” of ego and individual
identity with the larger “Self” or “Spirit” of which we are all a part.
According to the Ministry of Ayush, India, Yoga is a discipline to
improve or develop one’s inherent power in a balanced manner. It
oers the means to attain complete self-realization1.
The practice dierentiates eight dierent aspects: moral conduct,
observances, poses, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentra-
tion, meditation, and enlightenment. The enlightenment is the state
of peace of mind that yoga practitioners aim to reach by practicing
the rst seven aspects.
2.3 Proven Benets
There are many studies that prove the physical and mental benets
of yoga and its practices [44, 52].
Wallace [
] reported already in 1970 on the benets of medi-
tation. Oxygen consumption, heart rate, skin resistance, and elec-
troencephalograph (EEG) measurements were recorded before, dur-
ing, and after subjects practiced a technique called transcendental
meditation. There were signicant changes between the control
period and the meditation period in all measurements. “During
meditation, oxygen consumption and heart rate decreased, skin
resistance increased, and the electroencephalogram showed specic
changes in certain frequencies. These results seem to distinguish
the state produced by transcendental meditation from commonly
encountered states of consciousness and suggest that it may have
practical applications” [49].
Pital et al. [
] investigate the relationship between Yoga and
Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a signicant characteristic to deter-
mine the condition of heart. Hernando et al. [
] study the pulse rate
variability (PRV), as that metric has been proposed as a surrogate
of HRV.
According to Dev et al. [
], yoga improves regional cerebral
oxygenation at prefrontal regions during the attention task.
Supoo and Sittiprapaporn [
] studied the eect of yoga poses
on brain waves using a tool called MindWave Mobile and found
a signicant increase of alpha and theta brainwaves. Alpha brain-
waves are detected in highly focused but calm states of mind, and
theta brain waves in deeply introspective states of mind.
Tiwar and Tiwari [
] used Electroencephalogram signals are for
measuring the brain’s response to yoga poses and music, generated
by millions of nerve cells known as neurons. Jaeger et al. [
explore the use of adaptive architectures for breathing control.
Bernardez et al. [5, 6] performed experiments showing that the
practice of mindfulness signicantly improves conceptual mod-
eling eciency. Regarding conceptual modeling eectiveness, an
improvement was observed in practice, even though the analy-
sis showed that the improvement was not statistically signicant.
Their replication led to the same conclusions as the original study,
the adequacy of the original experiment was conrmed and the
credibility of the results increased. Consequently, the practice of
mindfulness can improve the eciency of Software Engineering
students in the development of conceptual models. They pointed
1nition- yoga
Where aention goes, energy flows — enhancing individual sustainability in soware engineering ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK
out that specically introverts may benet, and the software eld
is dominated by introverts [
]. This experiment is built on in the
research agenda.
2.4 Work Breaks for Health
Work breaks as promoted by Wendell Taylor, are “easy-to-implement
workplace policy designed to improve employee health, increase
productivity, and lower health care costs” [
]: Transforming work
breaks promotes health [
]. They are also referred to as Booster
Breaks [
], and they prevent chronic disease in seated work envi-
ronments [47].
Furthermore, Beck et al. [
] have explored what makes a mo-
ment during daily work opportune for reminding and conducting a
physical exercise, of how to identify these moments with sensing
technology, and how to provide unobtrusive but eective notica-
tions during these moments.
We build on these studies in the research agenda.
2.5 Creativity Theory
Finally, creativity theory [
] states that we need incubation
time to let ideas ripen, where we do something dierent. Horko
and Maiden [
] use this for requirements engineering, specically
in the elicitation phase of projects to discover new requirements.
Beyond that, creativity is also needed in software design and solving
other challenges.
The author of this paper is a certied yoga teacher registered with
the Yoga Alliance
and has conducted a series of small interven-
tions using simple yoga poses and breathing exercises in class with
students since 2016. The courses were Bachelor’s as well as Master’s
level courses in Software Engineering, Requirements Engineering,
and ICT for Sustainability. Students were always willing to par-
ticipate, and many commented positively on the exercises in the
(formal and informal) teaching evaluations.
At a summer school in 2019 in Uganda, I got invited as lecturer
and, in addition to the content on ICT4S, oered a yoga class for the
students. Some of them were enthusiastic to continue the practice,
so I made two little videos for them such that they could keep
At research conferences like ICT4S and RE as well as at a Dagstuhl
seminar, I received requests to guide yoga sessions, and the atten-
dance was always worth getting up extra early. All of the listed
examples so far have been community service and not research,
but they show that I have been willing to put in the practice with-
out wondering whether there was research merit to it. Making the
impact of these practices more visible and maybe even measurable
is just a further opportunity for helping people get a little healthier
and individually sustainable.
For Spring 2020, I am planning a replication of Bea Bernardez’
experiment [
] on the eects of a voluntary meditation practice
on the cognitive abilities needed to perform conceptual modeling.
3Morning sequence and
core strengthening sequence
This replication is under preparation right now in collaboration
with the original author of the study.
4.1 Revisiting “Flourishing indenitely”
Ehrenfeld and Homan’s “ourishing indenitely” [
] denition of
sustainability comes to mind. In their book, Ehrenfeld and Homan
show aspects of our culture that drive the unsustainable, unsatisfy-
ing, and unfair social and economic machines that dominate our
lives. First, our collective model of the way the world works cannot
cope with the complexity of today’s highly connected, high-speed
reality. Second, our understanding of human behavior is rooted in
this outdated model. Driven by the old guard, sustainability has
become little more than a fashionable idea. As a result, both busi-
ness and government are following the wrong path, by applying
temporary, less unsustainable solutions that will fail to leave future
generations in better shape. To shift the pendulum, they reframe
to “being and caring”, as opposed to “having and needing”, rooted
in the beauty of complexity and arguing for the transformative
cultural shift that we can make based on our collective wisdom
and lived experiences. Then, the authors sketch out the road to
a ourishing future, a change in our consumption and a new ap-
proach to understanding and acting. Ehrenfeld and Homan say
it is imperative to pick something other than growth to sustain,
because growth is, ultimately, a measure of quantity; they suggest
instead a measure of quality. For them, that something is ourish-
ing — a measure of the fullness of life, not some material metric.
Flourishing, as the book of the same title proposes, comes when one
can say that all of life’s cares are being attended to — when every
human being is successfully caring for themselves, other humans,
and also the non-human world that is vital to our maintenance. [
4.2 Sustainable Individuals in Software
If we manage to raise the awareness and then educate and train
current and future software developers to maintain balance in their
life and practice self-care to the extent that they feel individually
sustainable, we might just get there. Or, as Pappas describes a
sustainable individual:
“Sustainable individuals are characterized by creating
harmony, interconnection, and relatively high levels
of self-awareness in their values, thoughts, behaviors,
and actions as well as cultivating continued individual
growth in their physical (health), emotional, social,
philosophical, and intellectual abilities.” [37]
Individual sustainability includes physical but also mental and
emotional health, and in many traditions the desired condition for
this is expressed by having a calm state of mind, which however,
does not equate to being detached or aloof.
“Having a calm or peaceful state of mind doesn’t mean
being spaced out or completely empty. Peace of mind
or a calm state of mind is rooted in aection and
compassion and is sensitive and responsive to others.
— Dalai Lama
ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK Birgit Penzenstadler
This research agenda is compiled of a number of items that build
on the preliminary work and signicantly expand the related work
in the eld. We detail the research objective exploring the use of
mindfulness practices in the context of software engineering educa-
tion and practice, and propose a series of studies and interventions,
answering research questions as well as providing outreach to and
impact for practitioners, see Fig. 1.
The main research questions are:
How to integrate mindfulness practices eectively into soft-
ware engineering education and practice in the least intru-
sive way,
How to measure the eectiveness of such interventions in
terms of cognitive abilities, energy levels and self perception,
How to predict good timing for interventions such that they
don’t disturb moments of ow but enhance energy levels
when needed.
The items are described in order of increasing complexity and
as they build on each other. The work packages we are envisioning
to explore and answer these questions are as follows:
5.1 Empirical data and Narratives
5.1.1 Data set. In March, we distributed a preliminary survey for
practitioners on preconceived notions about mindfulness interven-
tions, options for such interventions, and how likely they are to
use them, see IEEE Software Blog post [
] and linked survey
gather preliminary data as well as potentially interested subjects.
This is important to understand beliefs that might prevent eective-
ness of the interventions as well as preferences of users that can be
accommodated. At project start we will initiate a social media data
analysis on these questions to have an empirical foundation.
5.1.2 Narratives & terminology. Based on the data and our training
in the domains of yoga and mindfulness, we develop narratives
with terminology that is likely to be accessible by software engi-
neers who might be predominantly or initially interested in the
physical and mental benets. For example, it is important to ex-
plain the benet of increase in cognitive abilities and enhanced
duration of focus, furthermore the increase of neuroplasticity (new
neural pathways in the brain, specically connecting right and
left hemisphere more), and thereby improvement of creativity. It is
important to denote we are not neglecting or denying the spiritual
aspects (cultural appropriation), and proposing to use terminology
that is less connotated with it, and to initially skip traditional vedic
terminology as it is foreign to them - in order to encourage a wider
audience to try out the practices.
“What unites people?
Armies? Gold? Flags?
There is nothing in the world
more powerful than a good story.
Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.
- Thyrion (Game of thrones)
5.2 In-class interventions and workplace
5.2.1 In-class interventions. We develop written and illustrated
instructions for the existing mini yoga interventions in class (action
research). We evaluate the eects of the yoga interventions with
students, using a standard survey
as well as self reporting (diaries),
and optionally biometric tracking. In order to make this evaluation
more meaningful, we aim to use the interventions throughout the
entire semester, and if possible, beyond that. Given that they only
take 5 minutes each, it is reasonable to oer them optionally at the
end of the break in the middle of a longer class session, or at the
beginning of a remote online session.6
5.2.2 Workplace interventions. Building on the experience with
yoga classes taught at the department, the insights from the in-class
interventions can be expanded on the level of weekly workplace
interventions. Evaluation includes self report in surveys and a diary
as well as work time and code repository meta data, and optionally
biometric tracking. Given that this is happening in a research en-
vironment, participants are likely to agree to some data collection
for this kind of study. Giving participants options to either join a
course or to do home practices in their own time, as well as oering
several modalities (e.g. breathwork, yoga poses, meditation) makes
the study more encompassing but also enriches the data signi-
cantly. We also include a control group of regular practitioners that
will cease their practice for two weeks and report on the eects.
5.3 Card Deck, practitioner toolkit, training
5.3.1 Illustrated Card Deck. We develop a “Focus Flow” card deck
of 5 minute interventions that you can pull out of the stack, and have
an instructional video for those 5 minutes available on youTube 7.
For these, it will be important to use the terminology developed
for the Narratives such that participants don’t get taken aback by
vocabulary too far out of their everyday language. Fig. 2 introduces
a breathing exercise along with its benets. Fig. 3 shows an instruc-
tion card that we would adapt for such purposes and also mention
the benets of the particular pose. We develop and test both a phys-
ical prototype for the cards and implement an app. The app has the
advantage of being able to set a mood or get additional audio and
video. The physical cards support a break from screen time.
5.3.2 Practitioner toolkit. We conduct action research on small-
scale interventions in IT companies by means of a short instruc-
tional video series. Making it relatable is an important component
here — we can learn anything online, but presence makes a dier-
ence, so to aect the culture in a company to transition that way, we
explore the dierence of physical presence of an instructor on site
in comparison to self-guided learning. Part of the physical presence
part is to establish a space (“relax room”) to do these exercises and
whether that is possible or supported by the stakeholders. Several
large IT companies have made large investments in such spaces for
Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) as baseline survey and exit sur-
Several colleagues are interested to replicate this in their classes for a larger data set.
7Breathing exercise videos by PI:,
Where aention goes, energy flows — enhancing individual sustainability in soware engineering ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK
Figure 1: Overview of the proposed research.
increasing the productivity of their employees, e.g. Google, which
may be sucient argumentation grounds for such a space.
5.3.3 Orchestrating training & practice. We develop a training
framework of scaolded practices that introduces breathwork, yoga
poses, and meditation as either options or combined path towards
better physical, mental, and emotional health. This item pulls to-
gether the results from earlier work packages into an overall toolkit
that can be adapted and tailored for the application scenario (e.g.
weaving into software engineering classes at university, or weaving
into every day software development practices in a company).
5.4 Comparing modalities, gamication,
timing for ow
5.4.1 Comparing modalities. After developing instruction kits for
all three modalities, we compare the eects of breathwork, guided
yoga poses, and meditation. Some factors that play into preferences
here could include shared versus private oces, personality types,
and rigidness of daily schedule. The lowest perceived hurdle is
usually associated with practicing deep breathing, because most
people can perceive a physical and mental benet within a matter
of seconds, and it only requires slightly intensifying an activity we
perform automatically to stay alive.
5.4.2 Gamification. The app is further expanded by enhancing the
user experience with reward badges, or actual rewards (if possible
and desired in company), as well as challenges that users can decide
to participate in (e.g. a 30-day daily meditation streak). This may
attract a wider user circle or increase retention of participants if
the interventions are only individual, remote or online.
5.5 Timing and Flow.
Lastly, there is the question of how to facilitate such interventions
in a company without interrupting ow and productive thinking
processes, as interrupting ow [
] would instead lead to more
stress [
]. Ioannou [
] has explored this for probabilistic repeti-
tive project scheduling, but software development is much more
complex, whereas we focus on how to sense and how to measure
Figure 2: Breathing exercise with associated benets.
indicators for that. Beck et al. [
] use sensors to measure sitting
time. We explore how to judge whether someone who is currently
not vigorously tapping on their keyboard is actively thinking or
actually in need of a reviving break. Candidate building blocks for a
solution on when breaks are needed are sitting time in combination
with keyboard activity and eye tracking, as well as AI predictions.
Responsibility: There is a legitimate question about how much it
is the job of software engineering education to teach about self-care
and balance in life. One could argue that it is the individual’s re-
sponsibility, and that we are interfering with their agency. However,
we also argue in other places that our students should be trained
in giving presentations and public speaking, because that is a nec-
essary skill for a successful long-term career [
]. Consequently,
mitigating the risk of burn out by preparing them with a small set
of self-care methods and tools gives them starting grounds they
can choose to cultivate further (or not).
Feasibility: Prioritization of perceived secondary skills, formerly
known as soft skills, in comparison to perceived primary skills of
ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK Birgit Penzenstadler
Figure 3: Yoga card that explains the poses chair” and “for-
ward fold”.
Figure 4: Sample One Minute Meditation Script, script by the
author, background photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.
a software engineer (designing, coding, testing, maintaining) has
been argued in software engineering education research for a long
time [
]. Similar to writing, presentation, and communication
skills, the prioritization has to be made in balance with the business
objectives an employee has signed up for when they decided on
their workplace. Is it feasible for us to convince companies to try out
this approach? Most companies do have oers for their employees
to bring balance to their work life, and we argue that being brought
to the table by a software engineering researcher who happens to
be a certied yoga teacher might increase chances of successful
recruitment and retention for these interventions.
Mindset: What about really conservative engineers who have no
interest whatsoever in bending over backwards in order to suppos-
edly improve their creativity? Choosing the right terminology is
crucial when introducing these practices. We therefore are devel-
oping a set of narratives that use vocabulary non-traditional user
groups of yoga practices might potentially be more open to. In other
words, I can talk about oxygenation of the body and neuroplasticity
to explain the benets of certain breathing exercises without any
of the traditional historic background or terminology of the yogic
Culture: In shared oce getting up might feel disruptive and/or
embarrassing. However, here the dierent modalities of the in-
terventions allow the user to choose a short series of stretches
(standing up or sitting in the oce chair), a guided meditation
they can listen to on headphones, or breathing exercises that will
be hardly audible. Additionally, diversity in our profession suers
because many are not attracted to the kind of culture we have in
a lot of software businesses, so putting emphasis on developing
better self care in the oce culture could improve gender and other
balances. According to Capretz [
], organizations would benet
from a conscious attempt to diversify the styles or personalities
of their software engineers because the strongest teams have the
most diverse perspectives. Last but not least, in other countries
and cultures, it is fairly common to conduct self-care practices in
public, e.g. Tai Chi in China, and similar actions have been taken
to increase exercise at the workplace there [
] but also in central
Europe [3].
Oine and outdoor time: Some of the items in the research
agenda, like youTube videos for interventions, clearly up the on-
line time as opposed to decreasing it, which would be an equally
important factor for well-being [
]. However, once stretching or
breathing or meditation habits have been cultivated over a period
of time, the developer can easily choose to practice outside, taking
a little break in fresh air. Taking a break inside or outside makes a
signicant dierence [
], so that contributes to the benets of the
Motivation: Intrinsic motivation decreases the risk of burnout [
] and performing exercises that help reconnect to our inner sense
of purpose strengthens intrinsic motivation, therefore the proposed
interventions are likely to help prevent burnout not only in terms
of achieving balance and individual sustainability but also in recon-
necting to our sense of purpose and intrinsic motivation which, in
turn, increases goal orientation [51].
Where aention goes, energy flows — enhancing individual sustainability in soware engineering ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK
To build a more sustainable, equitable and democratic world, we
need an empowered, connected and durable movement of citi-
zens [
, p. 1]. Empowered citizens need to be able to care for
themselves. In this paper, we made a case for exploring the area
of sustaining individual sustainability in terms of physical, mental
and emotional health for software engineers — using methods that
have been successfully employed by people in many countries.
According to the precautionary principle, this research also
promises to help with the danger of unsustainable practices prop-
agating from software developers into their systems. More short-
term, it can help to decrease the perceived stress in software engi-
neers, or reduce the likelihood of Depression and Anxiety Disor-
ders that has been observed for computer workers. All in all, this
research has the potential to contribute to the third Sustainable
Development Goal “ensure health and well-being for all” [21].
In [
], Ehrenfeld calls for products designed to enable people to
care for themselves and others. The methods of breathing exercises,
movement exercises, and meditation contribute to exactly that, and
integrating self-care practice as software professionals can help us
get closer towards the vision of a ourishing world.
“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to
which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.” —
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
The author would like to thank Bea Bernardez for picking up the
investigation of the benets of meditation in software engineering,
Jennifer Horko and Colin C. Venters for thoughtful feedback and
discussion, and Michael Brian Baker for encouragement to pursue
this endeavor within my research, as well as all the students and
colleagues who have practiced with me since 2016.
Faheem Ahmed, Luiz Fernando Capretz, and Piers Campbell. 2012. Evaluating
the demand for soft skills in software development. It Professional 14, 1 (2012),
Jorge Aranda, Steve Easterbrook, and Greg Wilson. 2008. Observations on
conway’s law in scientic computing. STC 2008 (2008), 2nd.
Elke Beck, Kai von Holdt, Jochen Meyer, and Susanne Boll. 2019. Sneaking
Physical Exercise into Sedentary Work Life: Design Explorations of Ambient
Reminders in Opportune Moments. In 2019 IEEE International Conference on
Healthcare Informatics (ICHI). IEEE, 1–7.
Christoph Becker, Stefanie Betz, Ruzanna Chitchyan, Leticia Duboc, Steve M
Easterbrook, Birgit Penzenstadler, Norbet Sey, and Colin C Venters. 2015. Re-
quirements: The key to sustainability. IEEE Software 33, 1 (2015), 56–65.
Beatriz Bernárdez, Amador Durán, José A Parejo, and Antonio Ruiz-Cortés.
2014. A controlled experiment to evaluate the eects of mindfulness in software
engineering. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM/IEEE International Symposium on
Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement. 1–10.
Beatriz Bernárdez, Amador Durán, José A Parejo, and Antonio Ruiz-Cortés.
2018. An experimental replication on the eect of the practice of mindfulness in
conceptual modeling performance. Journal of Systems and Software 136 (2018),
Stephanie Brown. 2014. Speed: facing our addiction to fast and faster–and over-
coming our fear of slowing down. Berkley.
Orfeu M Buxton, Sean W Cain, Shawn P O’Connor, James H Porter, Jeanne F
Duy, Wei Wang, Charles A Czeisler, and Steven A Shea. 2012. Adverse metabolic
consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian
disruption. Science translational medicine 4, 129 (2012), 129ra43–129ra43.
Luiz Fernando Capretz. 2003. Personality types in software engineering. Interna-
tional Journal of Human-Computer Studies 58, 2 (2003), 207–214.
Luiz Fernando Capretz and Faheem Ahmed. 2010. Making sense of software
development and personality types. IT professional 12, 1 (2010), 6–13.
Melvin E Conway. 1968. How do committees invent. Datamation 14, 4 (1968),
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 1997. Finding ow: The psychology of engagement with
everyday life. Basic Books.
Prakash Dev, R Steiney Lancet, Suman Saurav, NP Guhan Seshadri, Bikesh Ku-
mar Singh, and Manju Jha. 2019. Eect of Yoga on Hemodynamic Changes
at Prefrontal cortex during Sustained Attention Task. In 2019 5th International
Conference on Advanced Computing & Communication Systems (ICACCS). IEEE,
John R Ehrenfeld. 2014. Sustainability redened: Setting a goal of a ourishing
world. MIT Sloan Management Review (2014).
John R Ehrenfeld and Andrew J Homan. 2013. Flourishing: A frank conversation
about sustainability. Stanford University Press.
Davide Fucci, Giuseppe Scanniello, Simone Romano, and Natalia Juristo. 2018.
Need for Sleep: the Impact of a Night of Sleep Deprivation on Novice Developers’
Performance. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (2018).
Ken J Gilhooly, George Georgiou, and Ultan Devery. 2013. Incubation and
creativity: Do something dierent. Thinking & Reasoning 19, 2 (2013), 137–149.
Daniel González-Morales, Luz Marina Moreno De Antonio, and José Luis Roda
García. 2011. Teaching “Soft” skills in software engineering. In 2011 IEEE Global
Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON). IEEE, 630–637.
Robert Goodland et al
2002. Sustainability: human, social, economic and envi-
ronmental. Encyclopedia of global environmental change 5 (2002), 481–491.
Olly Gotel, Vidya Kulkarni, Moniphal Say, Christelle Schar, and Thanwadee
Sunetnanta. 2009. A global and competition-based model for fostering technical
and soft skills in software engineering education. In 2009 22nd Conference on
Software Engineering Education and Training. IEEE, 271–278.
David Griggs, Mark Staord-Smith, Owen Ganey, Johan Rockström, Marcus C
Öhman, Priya Shyamsundar, Will Steen, Gisbert Glaser, Norichika Kanie, and
Ian Noble. 2013. Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet.
Nature 495, 7441 (2013), 305.
Marco Hafner, Martin Stepanek, Jirka Taylor, Wendy M Troxel, and Christian
Van Stolk. 2017. Why sleep matters—the economic costs of insucient sleep: a
cross-country comparative analysis. Rand health quarterly 6, 4 (2017).
Erhard L Haus and Michael H Smolensky. 2013. Shift work and cancer risk:
potential mechanistic roles of circadian disruption, light at night, and sleep
deprivation. Sleep medicine reviews 17, 4 (2013), 273–284.
James D Herbsleb and Rebecca E Grinter. 1999. Splitting the organization and in-
tegrating the code: Conway’s law revisited. In Proceedings of the 21st international
conference on Software engineering. 85–95.
David Hernando, Mimma Nardelli, Kyle Hocking, Jesús Lázaro, Bret Alvis, Ed-
uardo Gil, Enzo P Scilingo, Daniel R Brophy, Gaetano Valenza, Pablo Laguna, et al
2019. Eect of yoga on pulse rate variability measured from a venous pressure
waveform. In 2019 41st Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering
in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC). IEEE, 372–375.
Tim Holmes, Elena Blackmore, Richard Hawkins, and Tom Wakeford. 2012.
The common cause handbook: a guide to values and frames for campaigners,
community organisers, civil servants, fundraisers, educators, social entrepreneurs,
funders, politicians, and everyone in between. (2012).
Jennifer Horko, NA Maiden, and David Asboth. 2019. Creative goal modeling
for innovative requirements. Information and software Technology 106 (2019),
Photios G Ioannou and Chachrist Srisuwanrat. 2007. Optimal work breaks in
deterministic and probabilistic repetitive projects. In 2007 Winter Simulation
Conference. IEEE, 2141–2150.
Nils Jäger, Stuart Moran, and Holger Schnädelbach. 2014. Using adaptive archi-
tecture to support yoga practices: social considerations for design. In 2014 IEEE
International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communication Workshops
Woon Pun Betsy Lai. 2018. A workplace exercise intervention in China: an outcome
and process evaluation. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Nottingham.
Erin Largo-Wight, Peter S Wlyudka, Julie W Merten, and Elizabeth A Cuvelier.
2017. Eectiveness and feasibility of a 10-minute employee stress intervention:
Outdoor booster break. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health 32, 3 (2017),
Mathieu Lavallée and Pierre N Robillard. 2015. Why good developers write bad
code: An observational case study of the impacts of organizational factors on
software quality. In 2015 IEEE/ACM37th IEEE International Conference on Software
Engineering, Vol. 1. IEEE, 677–687.
Tadeusz Marek, Wilmar B Schaufeli, and Christina Maslach. 2017. Professional
burnout: Recent developments in theory and research. Routledge.
Tushyati Maudgalya, Scott Wallace, Nancy Daraiseh, and Sam Salem. 2006. Work-
place stress factors and ‘burnout’ among information technology professionals:
A systematic review. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science 7, 3 (2006), 285–297.
Taras Medvedyk, Irena Antoniuk, and Solomiya Lebid. 2019. Inuence of Stress
Factors on Cognitive Tasks Performance. In 2019 IEEE 20th International Confer-
ence on Computational Problems of Electrical Engineering (CPEE). IEEE, 1–4.
ICT4S’20, June 22-26, 2020, Bristol, UK Birgit Penzenstadler
Sumaira Nazir, Nargis Fatima, and Suriayati Chuprat. 2019. Individual Sustain-
ability Barriers and Mitigation Strategies: Systematic Literature Review Protocol.
In 2019 IEEE Conference on Open Systems (ICOS). IEEE, 1–5.
Eric C Pappas. 2013. Individual sustainability: Preliminary research. In 2013 IEEE
Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). IEEE, 1631–1636.
Birgit Penzenstadler. 2020. What is your remedy to cognitive overload? IEEE
Software Blog (2020). your-remedy-
Birgit Penzenstadler and Henning Femmer. 2013. A generic model for sustain-
ability with process-and product-specic instances. In Proceedings of the 2013
workshop on Green in/by software engineering. 3–8.
Rahul R Pitale, Kapil D Tajane, and Jayant S Umale. 2014. Detection of non-
linear characteristics of HRV patterns for dierent yoga postures. In International
Conference for Convergence for Technology-2014. IEEE, 1–5.
Henri Poincaré and Francis Maitland. 2003. Science and method. Courier Corpo-
Simone M Ritter and Ap Dijksterhuis. 2014. Creativity—the unconscious founda-
tions of the incubation period. Frontiers in human neuroscience 8 (2014), 215.
Cristina Rubino, Aleksandra Luksyte, Sara Jansen Perry, and Sabrina D Volpone.
2009. How do stressors lead to burnout? The mediating role of motivation.
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 14, 3 (2009), 289.
Pattiyaporn Supoo and Phakkharawat Sittiprapaporn. 2019. Brainwave Activ-
ity and Cognitive Performance Investigated by Meditation Yoga. In 2019 16th
International Conference on Electrical Engineering/Electronics, Computer, Telecom-
munications and Information Technology (ECTI-CON). IEEE, 482–485.
Wendell C Taylor. 2005. Transforming work breaks to promote health. American
Journal of Preventive Medicine 29, 5 (2005), 461–465.
Wendell C Taylor, Kathryn E King, Ross Shegog, Raheem J Paxton, Gina L Evans-
Hudnall, David M Rempel, Vincent Chen, and Antronette K Yancey. 2013. Booster
Breaks in the workplace: participants’ perspectives on health-promoting work
breaks. Health education research 28, 3 (2013), 414–425.
Wendell C Taylor, Raheem J Paxton, Ross Shegog, Sharon P Coan, Allison Dubin,
Timothy F Page, and David M Rempel. 2016. Peer Reviewed: Impact of Booster
Breaks and Computer Prompts on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior
Among Desk-Based Workers: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial. Preventing
chronic disease 13 (2016).
Ankita Tiwari and Rajinder Tiwari. 2017. Design of a brain computer interface
for stress removal using Yoga a smartphone application. In 2017 International
Conference on Computing, Communication and Automation (ICCCA). IEEE, 992–
Robert Keith Wallace. 1970. Physiological eects of transcendental meditation.
Science 167, 3926 (1970), 1751–1754.
Kelly Widdicks and Daniel Pargman. 2019. Breaking the Cornucopian Paradigm:
Towards Moderate Internet Use in Everyday Life. In Proceedings of the Fifth
Workshop on Computing within Limits. 1–8.
Kai Zhang, Yonghong Liu, and Yingjie Yuan. 2009. Motivational Predictors of Job
Burnout: Learning Goal Orientation and the Mediating Role of Intrinsic Work
Motivation. In 2009 3rd International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedical
Engineering. IEEE, 1–4.
Huang Zhaoyuan. 2011. Research into Yoga’s promoting functions for men’s
health. In Proceedings 2011 International Conference on Human Health and Biomed-
ical Engineering. IEEE, 689–692.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Conference Paper
The benefits of yoga have been studied in different fields, from chronic health conditions to mental disorders, showing that it can help to improve the overall health. In particular, it has been proven that yoga also improves the autonomic function. Heart rate variability (HRV) at rest is commonly used as a non-invasive measure of autonomic regulation of heart rate. Alternatively, pulse rate variability (PRV) has been proposed as a surrogate of HRV. VoluMetrix has developed a novel technology that captures venous waveforms via sensors on the volar aspect of the wrist, called NIVAband. This study aims to assess the effect of yoga in the autonomic nervous system by analyzing the PRV obtained from the NIVA signal. Temporal (statistics of the normal-to-normal intervals), spectral (power in low and high frequency bands) and nonlinear (lagged Poincaré Plot analysis) parameters are analyzed before and after a yoga session in 20 healthy volunteers. The PRV analysis shows an increase in parameters related to parasympathetic activity and overall variability, and a decrease in parameters related to sympathetic activity and mean heart rate. These results support the beneficial effect of yoga in autonomic nervous system, increasing the parasympathetic activity.
Conference Paper
The Internet and digital devices are increasingly embedded in our everyday lives. The hidden environmental impacts of this infrastructure are substantial and quietly growing at an increasing rate. Our collective Internet use is following a 'Cornucopian paradigm', which is unsustainable. And yet, while intentionally limiting our online connectivity might be seen negatively as a retrograde step, in this paper, we offer ways in which users might welcome attempts to moderate their Internet use through improving four aspects of our digitally-mediated lives: relationships, digital wellbeing, productivity at work, and online privacy. Given these areas, we discuss how our research agenda may realistically be facilitated and what challenges we may face in moving from the reinforcement of 'business as usual' trends. By investigating and developing user-centred, moderate Internet use, we can 'break' the Cornucopian paradigm.
Conference Paper
Yoga has been proved to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Recent studies have reported that yoga improves the regional cerebral oxygenation at prefrontal regions. The present study aimed at investigating the changes of hemoglobin changes during attention task in yoga and non-yoga group using functional near infrared spectroscopy technique. Total of ten participants recruited for this study from each group performed visual continuous performance test for six minutes followed by rest. Results show significant increases in oxyhemoglobin concentration (p=0.04) and significant decreases deoxy-hemoglobin concentration (p=0.002) levels in participants yoga group compared to the non-yoga group. The lateralization index of the brain shows that activation was more towards at left prefrontal regions in both groups during the task. Results have not shown any significant differences in task performance. The present study concludes that yoga improves regional cerebral oxygenation at prefrontal regions during the attention task.
Context When determining the functions and qualities (a.k.a. requirements) for a system, creativity is key to drive innovation and foster business success. However, creative requirements must be practically operationalized, grounded in concrete functions and system interactions. Requirements Engineering (RE) has produced a wealth of methods centered around goal modeling, in order to graphically explore the space of alternative requirements, linking functions to goals and dependencies. In parallel work, creativity theories from the social sciences have been applied to the design of creative requirements workshops, pushing stakeholders to develop innovative systems. Goal models tend to focus on what is known, while creativity workshops are expensive, require a specific skill set to facilitate, and produce mainly paper-based, unstructured outputs. Objective Our aim in this work is to explore beneficial combinations of the two areas of work in order to overcome these and other limitations, facilitating creative requirements elicitation, supported by a simple extension of a well-known and structured requirements modeling technique. Method We take a Design Science approach, iterating over exploratory studies, design, and summative validation studies. Results The result is the Creative Leaf tool and method supporting creative goal modeling for RE. Conclusion We support creative RE by making creativity techniques more accessible, producing structured digital outputs which better match to existing RE methods with associated analysis procedures and transformations.
We present a quasiexperiment to investigate whether, and to what extent, sleep deprivation impacts performance of novice developers using the agile practice of test-first development (TFD). We recruited 45 undergraduates, and asked them to tackle a programming task. Among participants, 23 agreed to stay awake the night before carrying out the task, while 22 slept normally. We analyzed the quality of the implementations delivered by the participants in both groups, their engagement in writing source code and ability to apply TFD. By comparing the two groups of participants, we found that a single night of sleep deprivation leads to a reduction of 50% in the quality of the implementations. There is notable evidence that the developers' engagement and their prowess to apply TFD arenegatively impacted. Our results also show that sleep-deprived developers make more fixes to syntactic mistakes in the sourcecode. We conclude that sleep deprivation has possibly disruptive effects on development activities. Results open opportunities for improving developers' performance by integrating the study of sleep with other psycho-physiological factors in which the software engineering research community has recently taken an interest in.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has declared insufficient sleep a "public health problem." Indeed, according to a recent CDC study, more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. However, insufficient sleep is not exclusively a US problem, and equally concerns other industrialised countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, or Canada. According to some evidence, the proportion of people sleeping less than the recommended hours of sleep is rising and associated with lifestyle factors related to a modern 24/7 society, such as psychosocial stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity and excessive electronic media use, among others. This is alarming as insufficient sleep has been found to be associated with a range of negative health and social outcomes, including success at school and in the labour market. Over the last few decades, for example, there has been growing evidence suggesting a strong association between short sleep duration and elevated mortality risks. Given the potential adverse effects of insufficient sleep on health, well-being and productivity, the consequences of sleep-deprivation have far-reaching economic consequences. Hence, in order to raise awareness of the scale of insufficient sleep as a public-health issue, comparative quantitative figures need to be provided for policy- and decision-makers, as well as recommendations and potential solutions that can help tackling the problem.