Data and UX people have the best work-life balance

Glassdoor compiles list of jobs with the most flexibility, family time and fun. But for many, it may be to mitigate stress.

A number of years back, I had the opportunity to visit with the folks at WRQ, a software company that provided PC-to-host connectivity solutions, based in Seattle, Washington at the time. (Later absorbed into Attachmate, now part of Micro Focus.) The technology was great for its time, but what really struck me was the fact that one of the lead programmers kayaked to work everyday across Lake Union, beaching his craft right on the company's grounds. That's one fun commute, at least when the weather holds up. The company also was extremely family friendly in many other ways, encouraging time off from work, and even had a breast-feeding room on its premises.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

Tech companies have always led the way with family-friendly or even fun workplaces, and that type of culture may be the reason why many tech or software-related jobs ended up on the list of the jobs with the greatest flexibility, compiled by Glassdoor Technologies.

Work-life balance has always been one of those goals that have helped make some companies great places to work. At the same time, some professions just naturally lend themselves to be more well-balanced than others. Sometimes -- and I'm sure many tech professionals will agree -- you may enjoy your work to the point you don't mind having it spill over into your personal space. Or, your company may be so family-like that going to work is like going to your second home. You may want that line between work and home life to be blurry.

Of course, you don't want too much work in the work-life balance, that's stressful. Too much life in the balance suggests not enough income.

Here is Glassdoor's list of the top jobs for work-life balance, with my thoughts on why they came to be that way:

1) Corporate recruiter. This is the most flexible job you can find, and if you think about, it makes sense. It's essential that these people are happy and relaxed with their situations. If they are stressed or feel confined or oppressed, the people they are trying to attract will sense that pretty quickly. Would you want to move to an organization if the recruiter seems totally frazzled?

2) UX designer. Interesting that this came in second as a well-balanced job. This is a person that needs to work pretty closely with various user groups -- employees or customers -- and need to be pretty sensitive and open-minded to what they're thinking and feeling.

3) Data scientist. This is the hot job of the 2010s, so it may stand to reason these professionals can write their own tickets. That ticket likely includes a desire for balance and flexibility in their workplaces.

4) Strategy manager. This is one of those jobs likely to be caught up in high-strung, high-stress situations, such as engaging new business lines from a merger or acquisition, developing and executing programs and partnerships, and developing new business models. It requires a lot of meetings, and a lot of internal sales across the enterprise. This is clearly someone who needs to be able to move about the organization freely, without the restraints of a 9-to-5 cubicle existence.

5) UI designer. This aligns pretty closely with UX designers, noted above.

6) Recruiting coordinator. Works with the corporate recruiter, who has the most flexibility of all. Wouldn't be fair to leave them off the list.

7) Technical account manager. A job that involves working with many parts of the enterprise.

8) Mobile developer. These folks have been the stars of the show in recent years. Employers have been giving them lots of latitude.

9) DevOps engineer. Attempting to coordinate and bridge the worlds of developers and operations teams -- or perhaps serving in both capacities -- one can imagine that this os stressful to the hilt. Flexibility and family time isn't a luxury here, it's a the only way to prevent rapid and complete burnout. Good to see employers recognize this.

10) Research engineer. These are the people who make innovation happen, and make it real. Another position requiring a great deal of latitude.

11) Marketing analyst.

12) Scrum master. The heart and soul of the Agile movement, and the people charged with bringing together different groups with different ideas on how to do things. Definitely a need for stress relief here.

13) Substitute teacher. Very part time. Adjunct professor or lecturer also would fit this category.

14) Library assistant.

15) Social media manager. This potentially may be a 24x7 job, as customers will always be checking and posting, even into the wee hours of the morning of any time zone. You simply can't bottle this into a 9-to-5 job.

16) PHP developer. Along with mobile developers, more rising stars that probably can write their own tickets with current and potential employers.

17-19) Web designer, Content manager, Technical editor.

20) Data analyst. Their more-degreed colleagues, the data scientists, have a smidgeon more work-life balance, but number 20 on the list isn't too shabby.

By the way, programmers came in at number 25, so they did make it near the top of Glassdoor's list as well. Keep the kayaks handy, it's a great to help the balance.

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