DevOps Institute

8 Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance in DevOps

Culture and Human Skills, DevOps Basics, Humans of DevOps

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By: Andrea Poteet, Editor Author Content Writer, Sunshine Behavioral Health

DevOps is one of the most in-demand and lucrative industries in the tech sector today. With an average annual salary of over $103,000 USD, turning to a career in DevOps is extremely appealing for those who are tech-savvy.

But working in DevOps comes with a cost. With the high demand of tech companies and online brands today, DevOps managers, specialists, and programmers are likely to find it more challenging than ever to maintain a work-life balance.

What is Work-Life Balance?

Having balance in life is important to maintain mental and physical health, both in and out of work. When you’re overwhelmed with work and stress, you are more likely to find it difficult to relax and enjoy spending time with loved ones or indulging in hobbies and passions of your own.

A work-life balance is a system that you use to ensure you are not only committed to your work and career, but also to what matters most in your day-to-day life.

What are the Challenges of Working in DevOps?

Developer burnout exists, and it is very real to many people working in the IT industry today. Working in DevOps can be extremely demanding, especially for those who work in Silicon Valley or for any major tech company today. Whether you’re developing a new app or working to patch existing software for vulnerabilities, DevOps programmers and managers rarely work on a strict schedule. Instead, you may be called in the middle of the night due to a security breach or attempted hacking, which can lead to a shaky work-life balance if not kept in check.

Some of the challenges you may face while working in DevOps include:

  • Long hours that may feel isolating during busier seasons
  • The unpredictability of your schedule and the workload you are given each day
  • Working with many individuals with a wide range of skills, which can be helpful or tedious
  • The inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance, especially during major projects or project launches.

Signs of Burnout When Working in DevOps

Even those who love working in the tech sector can attest to the grueling nature of the industry and working in DevOps. Knowing and watching for the signs of developer burnout is extremely useful to keep an eye on your own work-life balance.

  • Feeling overworked and unable to manage your time
  • Feeling unable to maintain a healthy work/life balance
  • No longer feeling interested in your job or the company you represent
  • Slacking or putting off tasks

Experiencing burnout can lead to isolation and addiction when left unchecked, which may require a rehabilitation program to help in the healing process.

What Can Cause DevOps Burnout?

Experiencing burnout in DevOps is not uncommon, but it is preventable if you are aware of the most common causes.

Lack of Structure

In new tech companies and startups, a lack of structure is a major contributor to stress and burnout. Without structure, you are more likely to find yourself answering calls during off-hours or working through the night, which can quickly lead to feeling burned out. Ensuring your workplace provides proper structure and clearly defined expectations can help navigate your role in DevOps without feeling burnout early on.

Lack of Control

Developers and IT professionals who don’t feel they have much control in their jobs can experience burnout much faster than those who do have set tasks and delegated responsibilities. A lack of control is often an indication that there is a lack of management and direction from those in charge. Unfortunately, if those in charge are not made aware of the lack of control, more employees in DevOps are likely to struggle, causing their productivity and mental health to also decline.

Loss of Value/Fairness

If you work in DevOps and don’t believe you’re receiving fair compensation for your time and effort, you are much more likely to experience burnout at a faster rate than those who believe they receive fair compensation. A loss of fairness in the workplace can leave you feeling devalued, and unable to maximize your potential.

Achieving Work-Life Balance While Working in DevOps

Whether you’re working in DevOps for the first time, or if you’ve worked as a developer or in IT your entire life, achieving work-life balance is essential for long-term happiness and overall life satisfaction. A few ways to achieve work-life balance include:

  • Take regular breaks: Take regular breaks as permitted at work, even if you don’t feel like you need one. Stretching, walking around, and getting a change of scenery can help prevent feeling burnt out.
  • Recognize the importance of effective communication: Communication is key, at work and at home. Ensure you are able to effectively communicate your needs with your managers and superiors at work.
  • Set achievable daily goals: Set daily goals that are achievable and that help you maintain a sense of structure at work.
  • Cut yourself some slack: Give yourself a break when you feel stressed and overworked, and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself.

While it’s important to set boundaries and to create balance in the workplace, it is also just as important to do so at home. Some ways to decompress and to incorporate a better work-life balance when you are at home might include:

  • Unplug: Unplug your tech devices for at least one hour a day. Step away from your smartphone, tablet, and even your television to decompress and give yourself a break. Working in DevOps requires you to spend most of your time staring at screens and working with technology, so it’s good to give yourself a break from time to time.
  • Spend time in nature: Spend time in nature to decompress and reconnect with the world outside.
  • Get some exercise: Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day can help boost serotonin and natural dopamine in the brain.
  • Connect with loved ones: Connect with family and friends to avoid falling into a cycle of working and feeling burnt out.

Finding a work-life balance while working in DevOps doesn’t have to be difficult. Having a work-life balance can help to improve your happiness and overall satisfaction in all facets of your life.

Sources – DevOps Engineer Demographics and Statistics [2022]: Number of DevOps Engineers In The US – Work-Life Balance – Ultimate Guide on Developer Burnout: Early Signs, Reasons, and Best Practices to Prevent It – Developer Burnout – Signs, Impact, and Prevention

Andrea Poteet-Bell is a journalist and editor at Sunshine Behavioral Health. Her writing has appeared in local daily newspapers, alternative weeklies, and websites across the country. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in print journalism and lives in Michigan with her husband and dog, Charlie Brown.

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