Software engineers have a skill set that is highly sought after, yet we often find ourselves feeling undervalued and overworked by our employers. Being disruptive and moving fast is what the tech industry is famous for, but does it require us to give up our families, friends, or other passions?
Working on Key Values, I’ve discovered several tech companies that not only care about work/life balance, but also prioritize it. Even more surprising, I’ve learned just how many ways people define that term.
Below are the engineering teams that list work/life balance as one of their key values. Hopefully, it will help you better understand what it means to you, and find a team that has it.
Once you do, here are questions about work/life balance you can ask in your interview.
Our team members work 32-hour weeks and you’ll decide with the team which days you’ll take off. We want at least 2 days every week where we’re all in the office together (currently, it’s Monday and Thursday). It’s common to take Wednesdays off (aka mid-weekend), and our team is super fresh on Thursdays. The founders (Alex, Moe, and Robert) do work on Wednesdays, so if you ever want to reach out, they’re available.
We also incorporate a Friday lunch where we’ll take the team out and invite friends from other companies to join us. It has become a bit of a tradition and it’s important to us to be close with other people at other companies.
1 Open Positions
Agile Product Development Consultancy
San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chattanooga, New York
When we started in 2000, engineers were often siloed off. There seemed to be a lack of respect for both the work engineers were doing and their balance between work and personal commitments. The company was founded by a group of people who saw value in people’s ability to focus very intensely during the day and then completely unplug at the end of the day. Work/life balance to us means that when you come into work, you work hard and when you’re done, you’re completely done. At Carbon Five, you get to work on really interesting things without the overhead of politics, harsh deadlines, working weekends, or pagerduty.
We also have sabbaticals at Carbon Five. One of the benefits of being a consulting company is that it’s natural and easy for people to take time off. After one project ends, there is a wrap up to the work and provides an opportunity to take time off without disruption. Once you’ve been with the company for 2 years, you can take 3 months off (unpaid). It is an uninterrupted block of time that people use to spend the entire summer with their kids, surf, launch an album, or go rock climbing. It’s an opportunity for you to do whatever you want.
Yes, we work hard, but our families, personal emergencies, and life events trump business matters every time. There are no expectations of working crazy hours, and to ensure that we aren’t always forcing ourselves to choose between deadlines and life outside of work, we spend a lot of time making sure our sprint commitments are reasonable and well-scoped. Our office is incredibly dog-friendly (in fact, there are anywhere between 30-50 dogs at the office on any given day). As a result, we’re never too far removed from our loved ones. Finally, we host a wide variety of events including happy hours, ski trips, art classes, and wine tastings. We strive to be serious performers, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously and make sure to have fun too.
19 Open Positions
Labor Automation Cloud Platform
New York, Toronto, and Lexington (just outside of Boston)
(By the way, our data team ensured that we sampled our key:values in randomized order so there would be no artificial clustering!)
Our engineers are organized into multiple agile teams. A product owner/manager handles the product research, defines and prioritizes feature stories, and communicates with customers, while the scrum team of engineers execute the lion’s share of the work. These teams are supported by the quality, design, data, and techops teams. To that end, each product owner ensures that efforts are aligned with business/customer values, with each sprint sized appropriately to that team based on its historical performance. Rarely do teams overcommit, enabling a us to run marathons over releases than burning out over sprints.
Work hours are relatively flexible with pre-agreed standup times and scrum meetings, dependent on the internal planning by the team. Working together remotely is standard fare as we’re empowered using modern collaboration software (JIRA, Zoom, Github, etc.). We have four offices (New York, Toronto, Long Island, Lexington) across two different countries (US and Canada) and a handful of entirely-remote contributors.
10 Open Positions
There is a lot of interest in fitness, nutrition, biohacking, and meditation across all teams at BuildZoom. Whenever possible, meetings are converted into walking meetings or standups, though engineers typically won’t have many meetings to attend. We have unlimited PTO, and engineers typically arrive between 8am and 10:30am, and leave between 5:30pm and 8:30pm. No one is keeping track of that. The way we see it is, the goal is to drive the success of BuildZoom forward, not clock hours.
We all realize that being healthy and happy make us more productive at work. Currently, we don’t think anyone at the company has many unhealthy habits, including over-working. (Well. Maybe snacking. Some us do eat a lot of snacks here.)
The seasonality of our clients sometimes requires short bursts of all-hands-on deck, but we always balance that with time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful places where we’ve chosen to run our company. Every office is dog friendly and situated close to trails where you can get outside and stretch your (and your four-legged friend’s) legs when needed. We’ve been named to Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work List for two consecutive years and hope to earn the honor again this fall.
Teams have flexible working hours and regularly hold offsites and other social events to take a break from day-to-day responsibilities. We also have an unlimited PTO policy. Most engineers are on-call monthly, though it’s pretty quiet. There are still occasions where teams have to make a big push, but these are the exception and not the rule.
We arrange volunteering events through our community service group and field company teams for basketball, soccer, softball, and even cornhole. We have other employee groups like NerdOut who provide a community and host on-site events for our LGBTQ nerds and NerdWomen who contribute to the mentorship and growth of our female Nerds.
Our founders have taken a conscious approach to building a culture of balance in all things, especially the way we each balance work and life outside of work. In 2015, one of our founders, Dustin, wrote a piece about working hard and living well, highlighting that “We could be accomplishing more, and we could be providing a better life for all of the people who work in technology.” He urged, “If you’re going to devote the best years of your life to work, do so intentionally. You can do great things AND live your life well. You can have it all, and science says you should.”
This core belief carries over to our culture, in which we encourage that people employ a work-life fractal of sorts: “Real work-life balance is best achieved when you take into account [all] time frames, and you trade between them, whether you’re aware of that or not.”
Achieving sustained velocity goes beyond balancing the hours and days that you work though. It is also achieved through cultural practices in the day to day that emphasize sustainability instead of sheer output. To that end, we foster a culture of support—not competition—between teams, and distributed responsibility to empower every employee to take full ownership of their responsibilities and contributions. Learn more about our Engineering values.
16 Open Positions
A typical engineer will work 7-8 hours a day in the office. We don’t have set hours, but typically people are in the office from 9-5. The expectation is that you will work hard and effectively, but not on a particular schedule. There is no expectation that you will work nights or weekends. There is occasional work from home left to the engineer's discretion, but we want everyone to be in the office everyday as we primarily collaborate in person. We have a rotating on-call schedule where every engineer will be on-call 24/7 for a week at a time to act as first responder to critical problems in production.
Our entire company will get together for quarterly 'hangs'. In the past this has included a 3-day trip (Wednesday through Friday) to Tahoe and Santa Cruz, team dinners, and mini-golf.
It's a place that values growth and learning, puts high value on empowering employees, and we know it's healthy to have a life outside of work. While we are a startup and sometimes have to rally to hit a deadline, we strive to plan projects in a way that supports healthy work-life balance.
We offer a mandatory 2-week, contiguous vacation with an unlimited vacation policy, and we trust everyone to properly coordinate around busy (and less busy) times. The mandatory 2 weeks is designed to both encourage people to truly unplug, and ensure there is no single point of failure operationally in the company. We also offer (and have exercised) a caretaker / parental leave policy of up to 16 weeks for those expecting or needing to take care of ill family members or newborns.
Lastly, we allow everyone to work from home when they need to. You don’t need to get pre-approval or talk to your manager unless you plan to work from outside of the office for more than a few days in a row, or need to coordinate working from a different timezone. We trust that you know how to work productively from wherever. We currently have four fully remote engineers (in Boston, New York, and San Diego) and are open to bringing on other all-remote team members.
We have a flexible vacation policy, and keep the office full of love by having Flexpups (Flexport puppies) around.
We have board game night every other Wednesday for a night of spirited competition.
The team even goes on camping, biking, hiking, and rafting trips together -- and we have a surprising number of roommates working here!
There are also multiple configurations in terms of the number of hours people work each week. Engineers are mindmatters work anywhere between 20 hours to 40 hours per week. There is a tremendous amount of flexibility for everyone, especially those who work less than 40 hours. Some choose to work consistent hours each day and week, balancing time between working and spending time with their kids and family. Others who have a contract under 40 hours will still work 40-hour weeks in order to accumulate overtime which they can then use as extra holiday.
Parental leave is flexible and in line with German standard laws (which is 12 months) and we are also open to remote engineers. One of our team members recently transitioned into being fully remote. At least a third of our engineers balance working remotely and onsite at the office because they live in the same city and decide where they’ll work from day to day.
Many of our engineers work remotely or semi-remote in order to take care of family, or just to focus without typical office distractions. We have a flexible vacation policy with no fixed number of days, and typical office hours for folks is 10am to 6pm. We also do team outings and lunches every month or so. Our most recent was an Escape-the-Room that combined our eng and data teams!
Distributed Revision Control and Source Code Management
San Francisco, CA (HQ); Boulder, CO; Amsterdam; Tokyo; Remote (65%)
We encourage Hubbers to build amazing things with a high level of autonomy and self direction. Work/life balance is important to us, so we have flexible work schedules and unlimited PTO. We also offer five months of paid family leave to all new parents with the flexibility of using it all at once, or throughout the baby’s first year.
GitHub’s core values are: Collaboration, Empathy, Quality, Positive Impact, and Shipping. We care most about what’s getting shipped, its quality, and its impact, and less about exactly when it’s happening.
Note: We talk specifically about our flexible work arrangements and how we support physical wellness elsewhere.
It’s important to us that everyone connects with their manager and peers at work, because we all need to know that the people we’re trading time with every day are looking after our careers and personal ambitions too. We always make time to celebrate our wins together and have social outings twice a quarter across the company (as well as other events within each department). We want to share this experience with the people we care about most and often invite our close friends and family to our events. We have an open vacation policy that allows you to take 2-4 weeks off entirely, and we sincerely function with a tremendous amount of support and trust in one another, both as professional coworkers and friends.
A typical day on our team means working productively between 9am and 6pm, with a lunch break, and then going home. We recognize that work/life balance isn’t the same for everyone, so we give you the flexibility and freedom to define what it means for you. People can work from home and work remotely for short periods of time. When it comes to being on-call, we do two-week rotations. Product teams are responsible for their applications in production. We hold regular triage review meetings to assess page volume and schedule and make it a priority to keep page volume low.
Our engineers come from different walks of life, with very diverse backgrounds and are at different stages of their lives and careers. We realize that our team has a life outside of work, they have families, children, pets, elders and themselves to care for. Our engineers come and go at different times, some arrive at 8 and leave at 5, some arrive at 10 and leave at 7. It’s hard to get exact data on this because nobody is keeping track. At the same time, we also believe that building amazing products requires in-person interaction and collaboration and which is why we encourage presence in office during our core hours from 10am-4pm.
As a company, we are building something amazing and now is not the time to slow down, but we also understand that changing an industry doesn’t require everyone to give up life outside of work. We are engineers with lives outside of work and we encourage people to spend time with their family, pursue hobbies, and enjoy life. We work hard, but we play harder! Branch helps out with the balance by hosting yoga, meditation, sports leagues, happy hours, team offsites, and lunches.
10 Open Positions
Creating software is an art, and just putting in hours for the sake of putting in hours doesn’t guarantee results. Typically, developers show up to work between 9-10am and leave between 5-6pm, but everyone is different. We don’t believe in taking time away from friends and families and discourage working evenings and weekends. We have remote developers and encourage staff to work from home at least once a week. The Technology management team takes vacation, works from home, and comes in to the office at various hours too.
To most staff, G Adventures is a family. Many choose to hang out after work hours (though this definitely isn’t a requirement) through game nights, joining a company sports team, or just heading to the pub for drinks.
Most employees work something like 9am to 6pm in their local timezone. Sometimes we’ll work at night during an emergency, but that’s truly rare. There’s no “crunch time”, you won’t be answering messages on your phone all night or on the weekends, despite us being scattered in different timezones. Everyone on the team believes in the mission and is self-motivated. You won’t burn out.
It would be very easy to pour everything into making the company and our clients successful. To fight against this, we’ve developed policies to ensure that we all achieve personal and professional balance.
We do a great job in the work/life balance category. Starting from the big picture: everyone has 10 paid holidays, an annual travel stipend, and unlimited vacation days. Thinking about starting a family? Take 4 months of parental leave along with flexible return-to-work programming. We also support family expansion benefits. If you already have children, we also have a quarterly stipend for dependent care for things like daycare or babysitting. If your baby is your cat or dog, you even have $750/quarter for pet care. As for the day-to-day, the (kind of unspoken) expectation is to work a solid 40-hour week. Come in whenever, leave whenever. And just know, if you ever nap at your desk, we will see it as an opportunity for a great photo.
17 Open Positions
We believe that clearly defined goals combined with awesome people, true empowerment, and nearly total autonomy create the best results. We support flexible hours, occasional remote work, and encourage folks to work from home in a way that best works for them. We embrace that everyone has their own, unique working style which is why we have a "how to work with me guide" folder. New hires read through the folder when they join, and also outline their personal working style. To respect each team member’s time, we avoid unnecessary meetings and ensure that any meeting we do hold is run by a meeting owner with a clear agenda. We provide opt-in programs and trainings like meditation so you can perform at your best in and out of work.
We have a rotating "ranger on duty" who is responsible for responding to pieces of feedback left in the feedback channel during normal hours, and deliberately do not use a pager system so people don’t receive alerts outside of work or on weekends. Many of our engineers have children and families, and everyone at Hipcamp appreciates spending time outdoors. (We also have a number of musicians on the team as well!)
LoyLap is important, but our employees’ health and well being is far more important. There are times when you’ll just need a break to recharge and overcome your writer/programmer’s block. To us, part of having work/life balance means being able to say “no” to the company. We hope you’ll tell us when you need a break and then come back when you’re mentally refreshed and ready to go.
We’re also flexible in terms of when you work. On a typical work day at LoyLap, you might show up between 9am and 11am, work for a few hours, have lunch around 1pm (or eat lunch at 3pm if you’d like, no problem!), and then see out the remaining hours of the day. We encourage our employees to schedule their days to better pursue their personal interests beyond office hours. When you work matters less to us than working well.
Dublin has some great pubs to explore, so we make it a practice to go for a few beers on Fridays together. It’s a great way for us to wind down for the weekend and also lets us get to know each other personally.
1 Open Positions
That’s why we are committed to maintaining a 9 to 5 workday. Our core hours create an efficient and reliable atmosphere for our teams. Most importantly, our hours create team-presence and alignment and drastically limit the amount of overtime and weekend work. We rarely have employees work past 6pm.
We also have lots of fun amongst ourselves. Weekly pizza socials, ping pong, pool & darts, video games, quarterly “disconnect” activities (including an annual canoe trip), the aforementioned “house” system competitions, movie nights, an AD&D group, hackathons, meetups—the list goes on.
Nico’s family is from Manila so he takes a couple months out of the year to work out there. The time change is brutal, but we have learned to adapt to this and organize ourselves accordingly. If your family isn’t overseas but you do like working from home, we have Tuesday’s and Thursday’s as remote days! Regular hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but we are always open to accommodating you if your situation calls for a different schedule. We have a group of employees that run together during lunch break every other day. We believe staying healthy and energized creates a more productive workplace.
We rock a pretty solid 50-hour work week. We expect our team members to want more than a 9-5 schedule, but we also do not expect them to put in extreme and unnecessary hours. This culture starts from the top, as Adam (our founder) makes it a point to not work weekends. Our Slack is configured to not send notifications after 8pm, which is about what time people leave after eating dinner together.
Below: Kite team at a winery during a company retreat in Sonoma.
Chris’ general rule is that, outside of normal working hours, he doesn’t work when his kids are awake. That might mean doing some work at home after the kids’ bedtime, but what it really means is that you work hard at work and then you’re 100% present everywhere else. We ourselves never want to spend weeknights or weekends at the office, and we certainly don’t want anyone on our team to either. We’ll be with our friends and family, and you should be too.
We get it, you have a life outside of work and we don’t want that to change once you join our team. Typical hours are 9-5 and while you’re here, we want you to be excited about the work you are doing. Once you’re out the door, we respect your personal time. Late nights are extremely rare, and working weekends are unheard of. We are also experimenting with teammates working remotely and from home, with team members driving the experimentation. We encourage you to look after yourself, physically and mentally, which is why we have a health and well-being rebate and mindfulness programs. A better and more balanced you is a happy you! What do we do for fun? Our team members boast an assortment of hobbies, including pinball, cooking, lizards, music, city exploration, beagles, and photography. What do you do for fun?
Having a culture where people work long hours or weekends leads to burnout and ultimately less productivity. We are looking to build a long-term company and view the road ahead as a marathon, not a sprint. We want our people to look forward to coming to work and be excited about it. We offer unlimited paid time off for our tribe to handle the things that come up in life. Have a parent/teacher conference, DMV appt or jury duty coming up? Take the as much or as little PTO as you need to handle those tasks, they never go against your vacation time.
In addition to unlimited PTO, we work flexible schedules. We are focused on your output, not how many hours you spend in the office. Some engineers prefer to come in early and leave before traffic, others sleep in and stay late. We trust you to set your schedule in the best way possible to accomplish what you need while not blocking the rest of the tribe. Because we work in highly collaborative ways, we prefer to have everyone in the office together, but working from home is always an option when you need it. Find out more about the perks and benefits of working at Armory here.
We know burnout is real and actively try to avoid it before it even starts to creep in. We all play a role in keeping one another in check, making sure you don’t stay really late and encouraging you to take that vacation already! We value the time we have with our friends and families and feel lucky to be able to call one another our friends as well. In addition to our company-wide socials (a full day at Golden Gate Park) and engineering socials (Escape the Room challenge), we also have a running group, a book club, and volunteer in the community together.
1 Open Positions
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