Juggling the hours in tech
Successful people work hard. I am not telling you something you don’t know. The data is out there. Most of them work hard because they are competitive, focused, driven and they actually enjoy it.
The majority of the people that I spend my days with work long hours. Their life is blurred between their business life and their personal life. They would not choose to work any other way. It is part of their DNA. Obviously not everyone works like that. I had this conversation with a friend the other night. He doesn’t really like starting his day until 11 and there is a point of the year where he needs to really work hard to get business done. It is about a 4 month sprint of working hard from 11-6/7pm. He is fascinated that I would get up so early and work so hard every day. He couldn’t do it nor would he want to. Most people I know who are in the midst of building their businesses could not even conceive working like that.
Juggling the hours of each day goes under the life balance category. It is particularly hard for parents. As our careers are taking off, it is also the time when many begin their families. Not easy. I know because we started our family when I was 29 although many start later and many start earlier. For all the women and men that I work with who are working 24/7 and are thinking about children I tell them all the same thing. Have children now, do not wait. It is not about the entrance strategy it is about the exit strategy. You don’t want to be 65 when your first kid goes off to college. Speaking founders language seems to work. Every time I have said that I see the light go on in their head. I have watched more than a handful have children and have figured it out. Women who ran farms hundreds of years ago have babies in the morning and churned butter in the afternoon. Different times, different content but essentially the same thing.
It is a topic I think about a lot. Then when I read the article in the NYX about Jack Dorsey’s juggling skills this topic has been sitting in the my head. Jack was moderating a panel of women where they were discussing parenting. Someone asked Jack how he was able to achieve work-life balance and he responded with “Uh, I don’t have a family.” Jack works seriously hard and he is also insanely smart and can concentrate all of his energies to the business at hand when the only personal responsibility is to himself. Not to easy for parents and whether we like it or not, mostly women.
As much as the millennial generation is trying to share in the parenting responsibilities it is still a work in progress. What needs to be resolved is how do companies for this generation of super driven, hard driving, competitive people who also have families and a personal life create workplaces that support them. We are living in a time when every app is trying to make our lives easier and we can just start with ecommerce. What will it take for companies to change the workplace too so that women don’t roll out at one point and never return.
I felt lucky to work in web 1.0 when I had my son (1996. BTW, I was 29 too). Every place I worked valued my work ethic but also was flexible enough so that I could work from home or work odd hours as need be. All that really mattered was performance. It was the wild west (no real rules, lots of fun!). Back then only tech companies had the technology to make that feasible. This was especially true after I was divorced and was working in a software startup (2001-03). If my son was sick, I just worked from home. If there was no school, I just brought my son to work, because, hey, everyone else brought their dogs! The ability to login to the company network through a portal seems like a no brainer now, but back then most companies did not have that kind of access. For some reason, I always thought that once corporate america had that kind of technology that the workplace would be easier for women with children but it seems like that never happened. The technology happened but nobody seems to be championing it as tool for better flexibility and productivity.
Great post. I am lucky to be in a position where I have a young daughter and a new business I am passionate about. I am luckier to have a husband who is my cheerleader, coach and team member. We share the same vision for our family and work hard to create a family and work culture that supports it.
I think Google has been very important in this arena- changing the way women work by providing them free day care, playrooms, launching a school on their campus, allowing women to have benefits, time off, flexible work schedule and preferred parking spots. In re: to other organisations, I’ve even read accounts of women hiding the fact that they were pregnant to avoid being passed up for a promotion.If the US and UK readily had on-location daycare facilities and nearby schools for infants/children, then I think more women would remain in their careers, instead of giving up their profession to become homemakers.
They are definitely leaders. How about what Netflix announced yesterday
I think it’s a step in the right direction. The “unlimited” time off is for 1 year only so that would put less burden on employees of either gender for new parents. However, I think if NFLX had on-location daycare/schools for newborn children (1-4 y.o) then women and men would both benefit. 1 year is a start- but the problems of women leaving the workplace will still exist when the newborns are 2-4 years old- before they are able to enter preschool. Most women who have children attempt to return to the workplace when their children are around 5-6, because that is the age when they enter school.
That’s true when women return. I believe that over time all these companies will be creative and clever on bringing back the smart women out there.
I would love to hear how you managed the work/life balance!
See NextKids out of Nextspace.us in California.
One word, Patagonia!
Very interesting post. I am 4 months post partem and work for a large tech firm with the flexibility to work remote 100%. At 31, I’m lucky to have been able to “prove” myself to my company and so I felt comfortable take my full leave (3 months + 2 weeks vacation — thought I would’ve taken more if offered). I do see work differently now. It’s very hard for me to leave my daughter and we luckily don’t “need’ the money. But I “need” my independence, and I love working and managing my department. That all said, if I’m leaving my daughter for 8-10 hours out of the day, I sure as hell better be doing something important with those hours. I’m a lot more conscious of my time and my work.
Maybe it’s still too easy for most companies to find talent that accept “adjusting” their lives to their job.I wonder if the strength of the freelance movement could be justified in part by corporate america’s lack of progress on this matter?
My wife was talking to a person who does polling for a living. When they ask open ended questions of people like, “what do you want to do with your life?” generally there is not a lot of good data that comes out of it. But in the answer to that question, solidly 10% of women want to run their own business-same answer over and over again. They are very libertarian in their views. Very independent. They hypothesize a lot of it comes from wanting independent financial stability after seeing their parents divorce or seeing them go through the financial crisis.I think the more we create opportunities for entrepreneurs, the better the work/life balance will be. Not just scalable startups, but cash flow businesses too. I also think that sort of world is better for women-since corporate/government controlled monoliths have a hard time changing.
A dancer friend of mine put it like so: have kids now while you still have knees.I got talked back into consulting (software engineering) from home when my daughter was six months old. Now I go to the office once a week and we’re planning on preschool soon.None of this would work without a flexible workplace. Conference calls with a kid just learning to walk are getting difficult, though.
I like that saying. Smart.Conference calls are tough but you figure it out. I used to make dinner and bake cookies with the kids while on calls. Once someone on the other end of the line asked me what I was doing. I told her. She loved it and gave me the order.