I hear this question a lot from potential candidates and friends at other tech companies. They hear we work too many hours and are stressed out. I think this is fundamentally inaccurate, so I will describe my situation and then generalize for the overall company—as I see it—from late 2015 to early 2016.
I’m an engineering director here, and am responsible for a 140+ person group that is focused on China, India, and riders. This also includes a platform team. My responsibilities are vast, varied, and the stakes are high. I manage my time so I can run three to five miles a day, work out, make breakfast for my family every day, and do dinner with my family many nights a week. In my year and a half here we have taken multiple family vacations and weekend trips. I do this all while my team has crushed all our goals and our engineering organization has evolved to be able to deliver faster, more consistently, and with more robust products and infrastructure.
As a principle, I measure people on my team based on their impact (output), not time in the office (input). That said, if two people are operating at the same level but one person puts in twice as many hours, then I will look to the more efficient person to be able to scale more. Fast learners and people who are looking to improve do incredibly well at fast growth companies like Uber now, and Facebook when I initially joined in 2007.
Startups typically give everyone more opportunities to own problems, make decisions, and have key roles. When you are given that power, you need to take responsibility for issues when they come up. If you own an important system or product and there is a critical issue late at night then you also own fixing it.
Like any other tech company we have our mix of people who live to work and people who work to live. Fortunately, we mainly attract people who are passionate about accomplishing our big mission and want to own big problems.
I hire people who work smart and take ownership, and we are creating a team that is constantly getting better, faster, and more efficient at having more impact.
It is possible to have work/life balance at Uber, and feel excited and enriched. I know, I have it.
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