I had this conversation today, which I think is worth sharing more broadly.

For context, throughout my time at Pivotal / VMware, there is a concept called “flex time” where you are left to your own judgement on what to use 1 hour out of your 8 work hours to make yourself a better engineer (or coworker, or team player). It’s flex because it is (in my experience) truly flex — sometimes the best thing to do with that hour is to cook dinner, read a book, or build a prototype of an idea you have which hasn’t been prioritized by the team.

Anyhow, I am glad that my managers have been checking in from time to time, “have you been sacrificing your flex time?” which is treated as a high priority team health check.

And today it clicked to me: running teams are like riding tandem bikes — bicycle continues to move, but it’s hard to tell who is putting extra hours until it’s too late. Asking these questions is a mechanism to check if anyone isn’t clocking off on time.

So here’s a reminder to build slack and capacity for your team resilience, and cultivate a safe environment for your team to speak up when there is too much to do.