March 27, 2019
Companies promote work-life balance as a benefit but the definition of “balance” is subjective and the guidelines for each company can differ drastically. Many factors contribute to an employee’s ability to find balance in any role, including daily commute times, ability to have an environment conducive to focus, flexible work location and schedule, family life, vacation, and various other benefits a company might offer.
At Datto, we want employees to be passionate about what they do, excited to come to work every day, and successful in their careers. That’s why one of our values is “Do your life’s work.” We recently interviewed our Director of Software Engineering, Tom Cook, based in Portland, for his tips on how to find balance in a fast-paced tech environment.
Determine and Focus on Three Priorities:
Tom focuses on his top three priorities daily, weekly, and monthly, setting goals and timelines to complete tasks. While most things on your list might be work-related, it is essential to make sure to include personal priorities as well. For Tom, this includes things like scheduling and blocking time on his calendar to pick up flowers for his wife, call his father, or pick up Legos for his son. Tom summarizes this stating that, “while many demands masquerade as urgent, in the end, they aren’t.” Determining what a priority and what isn’t is crucial to finding balance.
Focus on Speed With Direction Not Just Speed Alone:
“Our team (Software Engineering at Datto) is collaborative and leaning forward,” explains Tom. “We are, like most companies, Agile, but we are looking for organizational agility. People talk about speed, which is good, but we are after velocity which is speed focused in a direction. It’s like the difference between a fluorescent light and a laser. We don’t want people to be busy. We want them to be focused. We get that through just enough structure to enable collaboration and by encouraging everyone to lean forward.”
Find Context and Inspiration in Your Family and Community:
Besides having an ambitious career, Tom ensures he takes time to get involved in activities outside of work that fuels his passion, creativity, and relationships with his family. Tom shares, “I am part of the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) and serve on the Leadership Committee. TAO is a fantastic organization that fosters the technology community here in Oregon. It’s a privilege to be a part of it. And though not exactly a tech organization, I am also involved in the First Lego League (FLL) with my youngest son. I wish FLL was around when I was his age! My career is significant to me, but it really gets its meaning in the context of my family.”
Having a team of dedicated and hardworking individuals also makes it easier for the members of the software engineering group to find balance. Tom gave us insights into how the team works.
The majority of Datto’s engineering team in Portland is building networking as a service for Managed Service Providers (MSPs). Tom explained, “think of setting up a remote network and monitoring it remotely. Wireless APs, switches, routers, and security all managed through the cloud. Add to that power, environmental sensors, and video - all the things you need to avoid a truck-roll to fix issues. Lots of interesting problems to solve along the way and great opportunities to learn as well.”
The team is a diverse group of professionals in hardware, firmware, backend, frontend, and QA, and they work with a variety of languages and tools including C/C++, Go-lang, OpenWRT, JS, CSS, and PHP.
If you’re interested in joining the team, Tom wanted you to know what to expect in an interview. “Technical challenges to see how you think. Situational questions to see how you’ll fit. We are looking for the best engineers and the best fit”, Tom said. “You can also expect a great deal of respect. We know everyone has options and we don’t forget that we have to earn the right to hire and retain our engineers.”
We want to hear from you. Comment below with the habits you use to find work/life balance. If you’re interested in doing your life’s work at Datto be sure to check out our current openings here.