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.
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.
Every member of the team at Meadow chooses to be here everyday, and we ensure that our own personal growth and happiness comes first. Typically, engineers will work around 35-40 hours per week and choose which hours work best for them. Some of us come in at 9am, while others come in closer to 11am, or later. If you feel like working at home, we strongly encourage you to! Quality work at the time that works best for you is all that matters.
We genuinely believe people produce their best work when they’re able to be the best versions of themselves. We want our team members to nourish their other passions and interests. As an example, James and Rick both love skiing in the winter. They will work remotely for various weeks, ski during the day, and then work in the off hours or on a day in between.
Also, instead of having an “unlimited” vacation policy, which we think encourages less vacation, we have a 25 days paid plan. Each year, every team member is expected to use those five weeks to take time off and recharge. You can break them up or take 5 consecutive weeks off – it’s up to you!
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.
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
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.
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.)
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.
1 Open Positions
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
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!
13 Open Positions
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.
19 Open Positions
As a company, we want everyone to be happy at Zeus for a long time, and maintaining work/life balance is key to that. We believe that enjoying a life outside of work gives you the energy, creativity, and positivity to be at your best when you are at work. Engineers are a naturally curious bunch and their hobbies are how they explore the world and develop new skills whether it’s learning new languages, photography, boxing, or doing real estate investing in Chicago and California like Yohannes does!
If a team is falling behind on a deadline, Joe (our CTO) advises them to cut scope in order to meet the deadline, or to push the deadline. Pushing extra hard is warranted occasionally, but in general, it leads to poor decisions, lower quality work, and ultimately, burnout. (We don’t want that!)
We asked everyone on the team and our engineers self-report working an average of 45-50 hours per week. Joe doesn’t believe that “hours worked” is relevant when it comes to performance though, and focuses on output instead. Our work hours are flexible and people can work from home or remotely for up to 12 days per year. We also give 4 weeks of paid vacation per year and people most definitely use them (and then tell us about their awesome adventures when they get back!).
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.
The majority of our team members (~65%) are remote. We all try to be online at the same time for a few hours each day. This ends up being in the morning for our San Francisco engineers and in the evening for our European engineers (they end up having later dinners, but that works out given how late Europeans tend to eat!).
For the most part, our backend team is based in San Francisco and our frontend engineers are remote, living and working in Europe and South America. At our headquarters in SF, we have lots of fun activities and always make time to eat lunch together. Our lunches are catered Monday through Thursday, and on Friday, we go out together in SOMA.
We’ve prioritized work/life balance since the beginning, likely because we’ve always had parents on our leadership team. Regardless of where you’re based, we all stick to 40-hour work weeks, and never work weekends unless there is a fire to put out. In order to get to know one another better, we also have an annual treat where we fly everyone in the company to somewhere fun (Cabo in 2017 or Lisbon in 2018!). It’s an amazing time to get to know one another and the best way to re-orient around our company mission of empowering people to build software visually, together.
1 Open Positions
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.
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!
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!)
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.
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.
We want everyone at BackerKit to do their best work, and leave it at the door at the end of the day. We discourage long hours, working on weekends, and doing “make-up” time. We try to be in the office from 9am to 5pm each week day, and are flexible with weekly work-from-home days.
Have you ever worried about leaving the office before your boss does? If so, don’t worry. We leave too. As an example, Ryan (Head of Engineering) has to leave work at 5pm in order to get home in time to see his kid before bedtime. We want you to attend to your many hobbies and interests, and spend time with your friends and family. (To be honest, we’ll probably kick you out of the office at 5:30pm.)
We also offer uncapped vacation time for all of our employees, and encourage folks to take a minimum of 2 weeks off per year.
1 Open Positions
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.
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
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.
1 Open Positions
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is enforcing a one-size-fits-all work schedule on all of their employees. We at Range recognize that some people prefer working 9-5 days while others want the flexibility to leave midday to do yoga or go shopping as they work better late at night. Whatever your work preference is, we support it. We’ve also dedicated Wednesday as a flex day so that people can work from anywhere one day each week. (And yes, some people still come into the office that day.)
Creativity and innovation require high-levels of cognitive functioning, neither of which are possible when you are stressed, tired, or over-worked. Working habits often emanate from the company’s founders or leaders, which is why we’re lucky that our CEO, Dan, sets a good example. Dan has a 3.5-year-old daughter who he takes to school every morning at 8:30 and comes home to by 6pm, 3 days a week. He and his wife both have one “work late night” each a week, and one “date night” where they have a babysitter. This is the type of balance that he has achieved, and he encourages others to structure things in whatever way works best for them.
Finally, Dan shares his thoughts around work/life balance:
“I’ve never wanted a job. I want a purpose and a craft. This doesn’t have to be a grand-narrative of world change, but I do want my work to have meaning; to know I’m having a positive impact on the lives of the people I work with and the people who use the products I build.
This tends to mean that my work bleeds into my personal life. I listen to management books while running, help my reports work through problems late at night, and sometimes code on the weekend while my daughter is at dance class.
But to make this work, my personal life also needs to bleed into my work life. I exercise during the day, attend events at my daughter’s school, and push back on evening meetings that’d get in the way of her bedtime.
Balance for me isn’t separating the two, it’s letting them integrate, and I think this type of balance can be more stable. Other people will have different perspectives on what balance means to them, and we should support those too.”
1 Open Positions
Angaza offers unlimited PTO (most people take around four weeks a year), paid parental leave (six weeks for all new parents and an additional six weeks for mothers giving birth), and while we’ve built our culture around in-office presence, we offer flexibility around occasionally working from home or remotely.
Our Engineering Constitution stipulates that the engineering team gets together for an out-of-office activity once a month. We’ve played arcade games together and conquered escape rooms, as well as more informal outings to picnics or a group frisbee session. As a broader team, we value personal connection. We eat lunch together daily and hold regular team board game or movie nights. Within the company, you’ll often hear Angazans talking about “embracing their inner tembo”: this one of our five core company values. Tembo is the Swahili word for elephant, and we take the mentality of being a part of the herd and supporting the other members of the herd seriously.
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.
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.
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.
If there’s one thing that’s very clear at Lever, it’s that we do not have a hero culture.
In terms of daily schedules, you’ll find that it varies depending on each person’s preference. Some people get in really early, some get in later, not everyone stays until 5pm or 6pm because they have families to get home to. To accommodate the various lifestyles and needs of our team members, we never schedule important meetings early in the morning or too late in the afternoon. We also have work-from-home Wednesdays.
For the most part, people work somewhere within the 9am to 6pm range, but we keep it flexible. To encourage folks to go home, we never serve dinners at the office. There are no pull requests after 7pm and we always do daytime deploys. This wasn’t always the case, but we made it a team policy a couple of years ago in order to be inclusive of everyone’s schedule. Once your work day is done, it’s really done!
When it comes to our on-call shifts, we always make sure there is a secondary person so that no one person is on an island. We have mandatory trainings about being on-call, and part of that is stressing the importance of sleep and taking care of yourself. As another example of how team oriented we are, we all pay attention to alerts and recognize if someone has had to carry undue burden. When that happens, the team invests on correcting issues together and we the encourage that person on taking some extra time for themselves afterwards.
We’re creating an environment at Samsara that couples passion with balance. We have flexible work hours that allow people to arrive and leave when it's best for them. Samsara is also proud to employ many parents. You can go home to eat dinner with your family or join the team for a company-sponsored nightly dinner and a game of Liar’s Dice. 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 building sensors to be deployed around the world, apply here.
15 Open Positions
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?
Everyone on the team is an owner of the business, and we trust everyone to make personal decisions about when to take time off. All full-time employees are also given eight hours of time-off to volunteer or participate in community service per quarter.
Gusties celebrate their first-year anniversary with a #FlyAway round-trip ticket and hotel stay to anywhere in the world. On their second-, third- and fourth-year anniversaries, Gusties receive a #ThrillorChill pass to spend on a thrilling (think skydiving) or relaxing experience (maybe a spa day?)
We’re also incredibly supportive of parents at Gusto. We offer family-friendly benefits like inclusive fertility treatments, parental leave, and free sleep coaching, house-cleaning, food-catering or delivery, and more!
13 Open Positions
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.
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