Work/Life Balance

Every year, Microsoft does a widespread poll to determine how people view their work environment, their compensation, etc.

One of the questions is something like, “Are you satisfied with your work-life balance?”

That tends to be a sore topic on the PM side. Perhaps a bit of an explanation is in order...

I've been trying to close down on a number of issues related to the compiler, get ready for a community review with my 4th level manager and his reports, and help firm up our relationship to Longhorn. Here's what it's meant for the last two days.

Tuesday, I got into the office at 7:30 and worked straight through to 6:30 PM. I went home, watched a bit of TV, and then worked for a couple of hours.

Today, here was my schedule

7-8 Bike ride (14.67 rides, 57 minutes) Hilly.
9-10 Work on a summary email for a topic (yes, I spent a whole hour on a single email)
10-11 C# PM meeting
11-12 Meeting to discuss versioning
12-12:30 Lunch
12:30-1:00 Prep for a meeting
1:00 - 1:30 Review meeting on a C# feature that I hope to be able to talk about in a week or so
1:00 - 3:00 C# Language Design Meeting
3:00 - 4:00 Write up design meeting notes (didn't get this done in the hour)
4:00 - 5:30 Compiler bug triage
5:30 - 6:30 Dinner
6:30 - 8:00 Carpentry (we're doing some remodelling)
8:00 - 10:30 Powerpoint slides, email, other issues

I realize that long hours aren't really a rarity in the tech industry, but even with that amount of time spent, I still have some things piling up.

That question didn't get a very high rating when I responded to the poll.

Comments (12)

  1. Alan Bell says:

    You get time for meals? Wow 8¬)

  2. Hum, definitely looks like someone eats too much. Don’t let PR get ahold of this entry 😉

    I will say, that if the entire industry was willing to give up small portions of pay to extend the employment base (say 20% pay cut, work 20% less hours, that 20% you give up goes to hire a 20% larger work-base to fill in the hours you didn’t work).

    I think as an inudstry, we are protective enough of our jobs to not let this happen to our own detriment. I still think the concepts prevalent in the 90’s (early retirement being the big one) are still weighing heavily on our minds. Though the mind-set is ever so slightly shifting towards pride in the work, rather than work for the money.

    To let you know, I think everyone appreciates your work and the fact that you take the extra effort to ship something solid. You also continue to make the effort of participating directly with the community, though we all know that takes up an additional amount of your time. Can’t say thanks enough I guess.

  3. Marshall Brooke says:

    Not sure if you would be aware of this, but Microsoft came up tops in the "Best Companies to work for" survey (UK) in the Sunday Times newspaper for two out of the last three years. This survey is based on employees perception of quality of life, working practices, company policies etc. Not suprisingly, a whopping 90%+ people at MS in the UK stated they were motivated towards daily work. The life of a developer is underlined by long hours, deadlines, unsuitable specs etc, but what other industry is as rewarding? For what it’s worth, since .NET came along, my daily working life has improved immeasurably as I’m now more productive with much less stress (VB6 DLL Hell hit me hard). I now go home earlier with as much hair as I left with in the morning. If you’ve got kids and you work in software, code .NET!

  4. @Marshall: MS Germany gets similiar high ratings, but I think there is a difference between Germany/UK and the US for MS as in the US, a large percentage of employees are developers whereas in the UK and certainly in Germany the large majority work in marketing/sales/management/support/etc. and not in software development.

  5. Alex says:

    Eric, Can you tell a bit more about this one "11-12 Meeting to discuss versioning".

    Is it about standards or deadlines?

    If there some kind of standards, can you point to a document on MSDN (if it exists)?

  6. "yes, I spent a whole hour on a single email"

    I often spend 3 hours on my weekly report mail. Is this too much?

    In general my granularity for switching tasks tends to be much greater. It seems impossible to get anything done in 1.5 hours.

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