While our company was doing an ideation/design/hackathon activity recently, the group I was in was studying company culture, and stories about culture fit were being brought up.
One of the more colorful anecdotes were from the time that one of our software developers told an interviewee that we enjoy the fact that overtime is not a norm, and that we relish going home before the sun has set. This led the baffled interviewee to ask a startling question:
"Do you take your work seriously?"
In a place where software development companies are mostly consulting houses that charge by the hour, and where overtime is unpaid due to the "above average market rates" that devs tend to enjoy, this statement is unsurprising.
Overtime, weekend work, long hours, and relentless stress are treated as achievements by professionals. HR and bosses treat work-life balance a luxury, and it becomes a privilege mere employees don't dare touch. Every project is concluded by a month or two of death marches, where days devolve into midnight snacks, short trips home to change clothes, and weekends melt into the work week.
If this is one's idea of taking work seriously, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson would object:
"Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it's a mark of stupidity."
I'm happy that at my company we're not stupid.
Of course the answer is yes we take our work seriously. We take them seriously enough that:
- We work 40 hours a week, and we try to keep it that way. This gives us ample time to rest our minds so that we might come in the following week ready to take on more problems and solve more bugs. Some weeks will be more stressful than others, but we treat this as a problem that has to be solved and managed, as opposed to a norm that is merely accepted.
- We maintain work-life balance. If time at work sacrifices relationships, fitness, emotional and mental health, or other aspects of our lives, any imagined extra productivity will be lost to diminishing returns. Personal problems and failing health mean more anxiety, less energy, and diminished creativity at work.
- We contribute back to the software community. The software industry thrives on a healthy community that entices young professionals and students to join its ranks. A company whose developers have time to give back to that community will be well poised to attract its best talents, and promote its positive company culture. If all a workplace can speak about is how it burnt out its best talent and saps away their lives, what kind of people will it attract, if any?
We take our work so seriously, that we consider it our job to keep our employees healthy, sane, and human.
I hope other companies in the Philippines would take their work as seriously as we do.