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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 two fully remote engineers (in Boston and New York) and are open bringing on other all-remote team members.
1 Open Positions
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.
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.)
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.
14 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
31 Open Positions
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.
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.
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.
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
We all have lives and families, (Mike and T.J. have young children). The expectation is that everyone works hard roughly between 9:30am to 6pm, and then goes home. When you’re well rested and well balanced, you’re that much more productive. Besides, if you just code all day, code all night, go to bed, and then start coding first thing in the morning, you didn’t gain any insight. We never work past 8pm or on weekends, though of course, there are times when people are really into their work and do do that. When you care about something it becomes a part of you and isn’t just work. We hope you bring that passion but also remember to enjoy the other parts of your life too.
1 Open Positions
As much as we may love working, it’s not who we are. Our team includes musicians, surfers, RV travelers, yogis, parents, former Marines, bakers, activists, and so much more, across 15 countries, 11 time zones and 42 cities (and counting!).
We don’t have working hours, we don’t measure hours at all, and our only rule about time off is that you take enough of it (a minimum of 3 weeks, please!). We try to keep communication asynchronous so teammates can set their own schedules according to their own energies and rhythms.
The result? A team that’s empowered to have a life and a career. As our data engineering lead Michael put it: “I love my work, and my life outside of work: Why should the one detract from the other? Why can’t I have the best of both?… Why make this distinction between what you call work and what you call life? Can’t it all just be living?”
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.
The perks at Strava are designed to promote and celebrate work/life balance. Everyone at Strava starts with three weeks of paid vacation and can work up to five, which allows people to travel, spend time with family, train for those extra-long adventure races, or work on other personal projects. After all, balance is one of our core values. Our plan is to be here for the long haul, and because we consider software development to be a marathon (not a sprint), we believe in balancing hard work with a healthy lifestyle.
14 Open Positions
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.
We’re creating an environment at Samsara that couples energizing passion and balance. A lot of people at Samsara have families and we want you to work hard and then go home. We have flexible work hours that allow people to arrive and leave when it best works for them. You can go home to eat dinner with your family or place an order for dinner (paid for by the company) in our Night Owls Slack channel. Everyone has their own schedule and we want to be accommodating. While we do have occasional sprints, we check in to make sure everyone is taking vacation. If you want to work remotely at the beginning or end of your vacation, you’ve got the green light.
Samsara is moving fast and hiring fast. If you’re interested in deploying sensors around the world with us, apply here.
12 Open Positions
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