How to Facilitate a Healthy 9 – 5 Working Culture for Developers?
With the ‘Great Resignation’ came a great threat when a record-breaking 4.3 million employees in the US voluntarily resigned due to workplace burnout. After this episode, companies are emphasizing more on the ‘Great Reshuffle’ to re-evaluate ideas for battling workplace burnout and facilitating a healthy working culture.
What is Workplace Burnout?
According to WHO, workplace burnout results from chronic work-related stress that tends to cause over-exhaustion, energy depletion, negative mental attitude, and reduced professional efficiency.
An employee should work an average of 40 hours a week i.e. 8 hours a day including a 30-minute break to avoid occupational burnout.
How is workplace burnout affecting employees worldwide?
Burnout decreases an employee’s efficiency, and productivity at work and badly affects their personal life.
76% of employees worldwide claim that workplace burnouts lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Over 12% of employees worldwide quit their jobs because of poor work-life balance, whereas 10% quit for well-being.
Moreover, when an employee quits a company, it takes two full years for a new employee to match their productivity level. Plus, the resettlement and recruitment process costs the company two times the annual salary of the previous employee.
Now that we know workplace burnout is a problem, what is the solution? Yes, you are right! Work-life balance. However,
What is Work-life Balance?
Work-life balance is a concept that emphasizes a healthy balance between personal and professional life. The ability to manage a professional workload by still enjoying activities and curriculums brings personal joy and satisfaction.
Facilitating a healthy 9 to 5 working culture is the first step towards battling workplace burnout and strategizing employee retention.
How is the Work-Life of Software Developers?
The life of any software developer revolves around Wake up-eat-code-sleep-Repeat.
Pros of being a Software Developer
Hefty Pay and Benefits:
IT specialists fall under the white-collar job category. This means that software developers are highly salaried people. Along with fixed annual salaries they get to enjoy other corporate benefits like variables, home allowance, furniture allowance, medical allowance, health insurance with family cover, travel allowance, food allowance and other corporate discounts. Yearly increments, new-year gifts, and birthday presents are unforgettable.
Besides, developers also get unlimited sick leaves, generous annual leaves, and paid vacations.
Aesthetic Working Environment:
The working environment for a developer is rather sophisticated. An air-conditioned cubicle, a personal desktop, and a perfectly orchestrated ecosystem to show their talent.
The job of software developers is mentally tiresome. To soothe the mental stress, IT companies have a variety of amenities like a cafeteria, gym, indoor games, and lounges, so that developers can cool off and refresh.
The job of a software developer is anything but boring! Developers get exposure to a variety of interesting projects where they can display their talent and creativity.
Software development is an evolving sector and is expected to cross USD 650 billion by 2023. This implies that developers always have the choice to choose projects of their interest, and there is no compulsion to stick with projects that they find mundane.
Saturdays-Sundays OFF. Yes, most software development companies follow a 5-day working culture. Except for emergencies, developers are not insisted on working on weekends.
High Job Satisfaction:
According to a survey by Statista, 65% of developers state that they are satisfied with their jobs. Hefty pay, healthcare benefits, 5-day working culture, and no restriction on taking leaves, are all these benefits incorporated in a relaxing work environment. What is there to be not-satisfied of?
The covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the 9-5 working culture by encouraging remote working culture. Post-pandemic, the major dilemma for the developers was ‘To go or not to go to the office, that is the question’
Where in 2021, developers were enjoying work-from-home dressing up in blazers and lounge pants; 2022 was more about staycations.
Now that the hybrid working culture has deepened its roots, let us have a look at the return-to-work policies of the Big-Tech Companies:
Moreover, the pandemic has brought with it lots of global opportunities to work remotely. Many offshore custom software development companies prefer outsourcing as they get to hire talented resources at reasonable prices.
How much do Software Developers Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual wages of a software development team can be summed up as;
What are the challenges that Software Developers face in the Workplace?
There are 27.7 million software developers worldwide. The most common challenges that they face at the workplace are:
Why is work-life balance important for Software developers?
Here are some reasons that justify the importance of work-life balance in a developer’s life.
Working longer hours increases complexity and reduces overall output:
Simple math: Working 40 hours a week is an ideal situation where developers can work without getting exhausted.
When this bandwidth exceeds 45 hours a week, it causes stress and drains out willingness to work.
Stretching it to 50 or 60 hours a week results in burnout.
When you are at the mercy of your mind but your mind is completely stressed out because of working long hours, the result is reduced capability to perform.
This means that you invested 50% of overtime for an additional 25% of output. Additional working hours add complexity to lives, causing unwanted burnout.
Even though more than 25% of developers worldwide work 1 to 2 days a week overtime, whereas 26.7% work overtime 1 to 2 days a month.
Burnout can negatively impact health and well-being:
Burnout results in over-exhaustion, extreme tiredness, and decreased working efficiency. In many cases, burnout has resulted in severe health issues like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and excessive stress.
Many developers face mental health issues and low self-esteem as they do not see expected outcomes even after putting extra effort into a task.
Productivity and overall efficiency decreases:
Assume that in 80 hours developers can solve three tickets or fix three bugs. However, long working hours reduce work efficiency by half. So in 40 hours they may solve 2 tickets or fix 2 bugs instead of 3. However, the outcome is of better quality and higher value. Hence, a flexible working environment can increase productivity by 35%.
Tight deadlines leave no room for creativity:
Employees working in a flexible working environment can focus 53% more than those with stressful environments and tight deadlines. In order to meet unreasonable deadlines, developers go through a lot of mental stress and anxiety. A stressful environment cannot incubate creativity.
Adverse effects of not prioritizing personal life:
Personal life is as important as professional life. Compromising on personal time can have long-term adverse effects like turning anti-social, losing connection with the outer world, damage to personal relationships, and a lot more.
How can developers achieve a perfect work-life balance?
Strategic time management:
Plan the day in advance by making a to-do list where there are different columns for personal and professional tasks to be done in a day. Too much focus on personal life or professional life can disturb the work-life balance.
Moreover, an unmanaged schedule can give you a hard day. Thoughts about uncompleted tasks continuously linger in the mind, reducing the capability to focus on important tasks. Whereas, a planned and strategically managed schedule helps in achieving goals faster without stressing out.
Dedicate time priority-wise. Spend time to generate value. Take up important tasks first and finish them. Achieving hard goals first gives a sense of relief and motivates in achieving simpler goals. You can use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize tasks.
Swear by a strict Routine:
For working at full efficiency it is crucial to keep the mind and body healthy. This can be achieved by following a strict routine. Early to bed, early to rise, clean up, and exercise. Along with this try eating healthy, reading books, pursuing a hobby, and meditating to increase brain power. Having a routine and sticking to it helps in bringing a work-life balance.
Save time by cutting all unimportant tasks:
You can save a lot of time by cutting out useless things and focusing on important things that bring value. To illustrate scrolling on social media, binge-watching, browser surfing, gossiping or spending time on things that are completely useless. Also, count on the time that you spend traveling.
Instead of wasting time on useless things you can choose a hobby, learn art, master a new skill, listen to knowledgeable podcasts, educate and upskill yourself.
Take Power Breaks to Recharge:
Instead of drooling over the same problem for a longer time, you can try taking small breaks to clear your head. The human mind can concentrate on a task productively for 45 minutes. After that, it dulls out. So taking intermediate breaks is like pressing the refresh button.
Be Reasonable while Setting Goals:
By setting unrealistic goals, you can only achieve one thing: DEMOTIVATION. So be fair with yourself. Set realistic and reasonable goals that are feasible to achieve within a decided timeline. By doing this you stay on track and avoid burnout.
Be aware of Burnouts:
This is a very important factor to achieve work-life balance. Instead of being the frog in a boiling pot, be aware when it is the time to jump and avoid burnout. Be reasonable with yourself and know your capabilities. Do not stretch too hard in achieving goals and meeting deadlines. Because, in order to impress, you can turn out to be depressed.
Sometimes saying NO is GOOD:
It is hard to pass long-awaited opportunities and harder to say NO. However, you don’t have to be the YES man/woman every time. Be realistic and honest. Learn your capabilities and draw a line. When things start going off-limit, say no politely.
Enjoy your Work:
When you go to a boring play, you check your watch every 5 minutes. This happens right? Similarly, working on uninteresting projects always takes longer. When you lose interest in a project, it is hard to achieve goals, it requires increased effort, and feels like forever.
Instead, try choosing projects of your interest and work dedicatedly.
When work is not work but a part of life then work-life balance is automatically achieved.
Best Practices that developers can cultivate for Work-life Balance.
Get your sitting posture right:
Wrong posture for long working hours can lead to back and neck pain. This can even result in wrist and shoulder stiffness. It is very important to get the posture right. This picture by mayo clinic depicts the right posture to sit and work.
Blink every Minute:
Developers continuously stare at the screen and forget to blink. This may result in dry eyes. It is good to stay aware and blink every now and then. It is advisable to look away from the screen every 20 minutes and look at a distant object for 20 seconds. This helps in adjusting the focal length of the eyes.
Do stretches to avoid back and neck stiffness:
To avoid stiffness on the neck and back, you can try doing some stretches while sitting on the desk. Like rolling the shoulders, rotating the neck, or stretching out fingers and wrist every 20-30 minutes.
Set Mobility reminders:
You can set mobility reminders on your desktop, smartphone, or smartwatch. It is advisable to stand up and move your legs every 30 minutes. This can help you release the stress build-up as a result of sitting in the same posture for a long time.
Staying hydrated is the key to staying healthy. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration resulting in fatigue and low energy levels. Proper water intake and staying hydrated can help you stay active all day.
Choose a healthy lifestyle:
For work-life balance, it is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Plan & Organize work:
A well-planned and organized work schedule can increase productivity at work and helps enjoy your personal life to the fullest. Thereby leveraging a perfect work-life balance.
Weekends are for REST:
Taking proper rest is very important to recover from the stress taken all week.
Take Vacations to Cool-off and Rejuvenate:
Enjoy vacations whenever time allows. It helps you cool off, clear your head, and start fresh.
By now, you know theoretically, how to achieve work-life balance. So, let us have some reality check by diving into the working ecosystem of some renowned Big-Tech companies.
How are Big-Tech Companies leveraging Work-life Balance for Developers?
Fintech giants and FAANG companies are making their working environments fun, flexible, and agile.
The Work-Life Balance at FAANG companies has a 5 trillion dollar market cap and rules the US stock market.
FAANG is known for its enticing salary packages and promotes competitive payouts with lucrative variables.
These companies retain long-term employment by offering comprehensive healthcare benefits, flexible working schedules, generous annual leaves and paid vacations along with tuition reimbursements. In future trends, we can expect employment based on equity or cryptocurrency.
To give you a reality check, here is how employees have rated work-life balance while working in FAANG companies on GlassDoor : (on a scale of 0-5 )
Google rules out the others with a 4.3/5 rating and 90% recommendation from its employees.
The Work-Life Balance at Giant IT Companies:
The IT sector is one of the fastest-growing markets and is expected to garner USD 186.4 billion by 2028. Growing faster is the global custom software development services market increasing at an incredible CAGR of 22.3% from 2022 to 2030.
Let us have a look at how developers are reviewing work-life balance on GlassDoor while working with: (on a scale of 0-5 )
Intel Corporation: 4.1
Dell Technologies: 4.3
Capgemini Invent: 4.0
Work-life balance is giving your best at work yet enjoying a quality life. It is not important to be a workaholic, nor to be entangled in your personal life and lose focus.
However, there may come a time when it becomes hard to juggle between personal and professional life. At such times, be aware of burnout and try to cool off. Being a good developer does not mean that you have to work round the clock. The key to perfect work-life balance is having moderation in everything.