A Different Kind of Tech Company: Families First

I’ve been lucky to work for several successful startups. Granted, they weren’t Facebook or Twitter, but almost all of them turned around good profits and/or were bought. I’ll admit, working at a startup is, well, a lot of work. There are articles written about long hours and hard work. Even articles about telling people to quit whining about the hours.

Now I really appreciate my opportunity to work with the companies I did. I remember working long hours, even 80+ hour weeks during crunch time. I remember sleeping 3-4 hours a night and working pretty much every waking moment. This culture is pretty pervasive in the tech industry, and working 40 hours a week for many companies just isn’t enough. Even outside of a company, there is a feeling of pressure for programmers to spend most of their free time working on their skills.

So last week when our CIO & VP of Technology, Stephen Tolman, talked to our technology team in a meeting, it was a very different tone. He quoted David O. McKay: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” He stated that our first priorities are our families. Not our deadlines, not the number of hours worked, not our company’s profit, or anything else. Are these things important? Of course they are. But they are not to come at the expensive or sacrifice of our families.

At Deseret Digital Media, while we are a larger company, out technology team is about 30 people. However, because of the so many different projects we have, each team just has only about three to four developers on them. So in a lot of ways, we’re a company of 6 or 7 small startups all bundled together in the same building. We do a lot for a team of our size.

Tolman then outlined exactly how we would continue to be a successful as a team while working just 40 hours a week, taking vacations, taking sick days, and taking care of our families. I’ll cover more of those details in future posts, but its great to work for a company with these values.

There was just one more part to this story: I wasn’t actually at this meeting. I was working from home trying to recover quickly from a cold. You see, my wife is due any day now with our first child, and we wanted to try and get me heathy before Marshall was born. So while technically I could have gone into work, I felt zero pressure to do so and just worked from home several days last week trying to recover. So everything I had heard about this meeting was from my fellow co-workers who explained it to me. When I finally was able to go into work, on my 1-on-1 with Tolman, he explained to me everything I had missed in the Tech Team meeting. He wanted to make sure I knew our priorities, family first, and exactly how we will be productive while putting our families first.

I really hope that many more companies can adopt this type of mentality. I feel like I can give 100% here at work, because when I need to go home, I can leave work at work and support my wife and future son.

1 thought on “A Different Kind of Tech Company: Families First

  1. As it should be. 🙂 When I worked for Dave Ramsey and led a small team of my own there, I got to see it done correctly, first hand. Glad to hear other companies have their priorities straight as well and that you’re able to be at one.

    All that lack of sleep will be good training for when the new one arrives. 🙂


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