A new person joining Sonatype’s engineering team recently asked me if we had a policy on flex time — i.e. being able to work fewer hours one day and then make it up another. This has been an unwritten rule ever since I have been at Sonatype and it is a good one. Here was my response, which I passed on to the entire team…
How It Works
Not being real big on ceremony, Sonatype doesn’t have anything formal in terms of flex time. But, if you need to work less one day and make it up on another, there’s no issue as long as what needs to get done is getting done and it is not negatively impacting the team, including even minor impacts. For example, if you did this a lot and randomly, that is probably going to cause problems. If you do it occasionally and at opportune times, it’s not going to be an issue.
My philosophy is that everyone just work at their maximum sustainable pace and in ways consistent with effective teamwork and collaboration. If you routinely burn the midnight oil, you are likely to burn out. That’s not good. If you work less than you can sustain for extended periods, you are under performing your own personal potential, you probably aren’t getting fulfillment from the job, other people are likely to start questioning whether you are pulling your weight etc.
The Bigger Challenge
The bigger challenge we tend to face is working too much. There is no shortage of interesting and challenging work, and it is easy for some people to get wrapped up in things and over work for long periods. But, that can lead to mistakes, low morale, stress etc, ultimately impairing net productivity and net contribution. That is not sustainable and is harmful overall. You have to figure out where the optimal balance lies, which is also something that can ebb and flow.
Every person’s maximum sustainable pace is different, and it can vary week to week as well. That said, everyone is expected to work diligently and thoughtfully. We all have good weeks and bad weeks, but on balance, everyone is expected to make significant contributions to the organization over longer time frames.
I know this is soft and squishy and perhaps hard to quantify, but every human being knows whether or not they are doing an honest day’s work. We should all expect that our teammates are doing just that and everyone should expect to be called out when they are not. This is, after all, *our* organization. It is definitely not my organization.
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