Work and life balance – how do we do it?

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Free time, money, work fulfillment. Choose two. This is the choice that working life presents, according to some people I’ve met. Different domains have a different emphasis; some may pay really well but crush your soul via tedium or crappy tools, while other jobs may slowly crush your soul by demanding really long work hours. Especially in the game industry the latter situation seems to be often the case. And yet many of us are willing to give up our free time in order to build something really cool at the workplace.

Working at Umbra would seem to offer the best of both worlds. The benefits are great, and while our stuff isn’t directly visible in any video game or 3D application, it is very fulfilling to be working on the back-end tech side of things. And despite the fact that the work being done here at Umbra by the programmers isn’t exactly a piece of cake, it seems that we collectively manage to get our stuff done within normal working hours, a fact that I was a bit surprised about when I first started working here. But how well have we nailed that famed work and life balance? Looking at our Slack chat history, the first thing I see this morning is a discussion regarding possible sources of error in our computation, posted in the middle of the night. Uh oh.

I asked some my colleagues (meaning, two of the guys who were posting late at night yesterday) what they thought about work-life balance. In general, they agreed that it’s a great idea to tune out of work-related communication channels, and leave the work at the workplace. That means no e-mail, no Slack for the most part, and no programming on work related stuff at home. Nevertheless, if there’s a new computation coming along in the evening, it’s easy to get excited and check to see how the results are coming along. No one here is actively forcing you to do so, however. It’s up to you how involved you want to be in your off-hours.

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that I hacked away on personal projects in my free time to learn C++ and graphics programming. Interestingly enough, a few colleagues and I still do hack away on our own game engines in our free time, despite the fact that we work on 3D graphics during the day time. Say what you will about how “balanced” a habit like this is, but I personally find it almost regenerating to work on my own code at home. I can figure some piece of functionality out and implement it all in one evening if I want, without having to worry about future implications and code review. I’ve found that if I do hobby programming only for short periods of time regularly, I can sustain my programming hobby and my full time job. Oddly enough, I would say that I enjoy programming in my off-hours more now than I did when I wasn’t paid to program.  The two other guys here working on their own engines also tend to agree with this sentiment. So much for that sweet balance in life.

Want to balance your life with us? We promise you super flexible working hours as long as you remember to have some free time too. See more about our open positions.

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