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Is it true that EMs and tech leads at Meta work only 4-6 hours/wk (or anything under 20 hours) while maintaining high paying salaries?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community24 days ago

I've heard this many times be true for senior and above level SWEs at FAANGMULA companies, but wasn't sure how true this was?

As I look to take on other interviews at FAANGMULA companies, the main issue for me when it comes to role whether a senior SWE or EM/TPM is time. Will I have inevitably with more meetings as a senior EM/TPM because of management by itself and having to work over 40 hours/wk in order to get promoted or stay at my level (I have heard this is the case at some FAANGMULA companies), or is it possible to be a code machine and manage your own team and workload to the point that it is automated you can build your own side projects (like how some people build their startups on the side while working "full time" at a FAANGMULA company)?

Personally, I still have the entrepreneurial itch and want to continue working on something on the side, but have issue with working at FAANGMULA 40+ hours a week in order to maintain my level and be promoted, if I know it is indeed possible to be more efficient with my time and achieve my metrics/results with half the time (say 20-30 hours a week instead of 40-60 that I'm hearing is quite common for some senior SWEs as ICs or managers).

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(6 comments)
  • 5
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    24 days ago

    Where did you hear that EMs and tech leads only work 4-6 hours a week?? 🤔

    This happens very rarely. Especially for EMs who have 5+ reports, you should absolutely expect to be working 30+ hours/week. Any problem with the team (kind of) becomes your problem! So you'll have enough to do, on top of lots of meetings.

    If you really want to minimize working hours, your best bet is to become an expert IC and just focus on one domain. Find a very slow or stable infra team, and you'll be able to have impact with your deep knowledge in that domain.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that when you're new, you have to earn trust, which means you'll likely spend more time at work for at least the first few months.

  • 4
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    Friendly Tarodactyl
    Taro Community
    24 days ago

    I echo with what Rahul said. I think IC is generally easier to have less hours worked because there's all kinds of technical issues, alignment to hide under. It's especially easier if you are a good coder or lucky enough and can get things done quicker than deadline and then can slack off the buffer days.

    Managers / TPMs usually have lots of meetings, which are difficult to skip. One trick I heard some people use is to just reject all meetings that you are indecisive if you need to go. They will go after you if you are truly needed.

    In summary, around 40 hours is expectation. 20 hours is luxury and possible if environment allows. 4-6 hours is unheard of over the long term. It might be possible during holiday seasons...

  • 4
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    Engineering Manager at Mistplay
    23 days ago

    As a new EM I want to chime in that it is also essentially starting over from 0, learning from being a junior in many areas:

    You have to learn how to resolve conflict on your team, with other teams, and influence and motivate people who each are motivated by different things. Additionally questions like what should we prioritize now, how should we do things both physically and mentally are up to you. Expect they also are not up to you 100%, so there is a fun game where directors and executives are changing their mind on what to do above you, and you need to be a giant shock absorber to provide a reasonably constant experience for the team. At first that all of these ideals will go terribly backwards and you’ll have to repair the damage and figure out how to improve asap.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    23 days ago

    Virtually nobody is working 20 hours/week or less at FAANG in this economy and surviving. They would be put on the PIP train almost instantly.

    This applies to both ICs and EMs. As others have mentioned, I think it's even harder for EMs to work lesser hours as they have a lot of hard time commitments with meetings (you literally have 10 recurring 1 on 1s every week due to your reports).

    I think it's possible to work less than 40 and still do well (I've done it), but a lot of specific conditions need to be met (including a very high skill bar): "Is it possible to do well at a SWE job working less than 40 hours a week?"

  • 4
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    Senior SWE, Manager at Google
    22 days ago

    Fun thought, working 4-6 hours a week!

    From what I’ve seen, a “Good” work life schedule for front line managers is around ~8 hours a day, with the occasional evenings overtime, and with most weekends off.

    You have your meetings with your team and your reports which takes a decent chunk of time. Then you need talk to relevant stakeholders of your team to stay aligned on your goals (this is especially more important at big tech, where there’s a lot of interconnected relationships). Lastly, you still need to find ways to contribute, whether that’s finding the right new directions for your team or creating new processes or planning career growth for your reports.

    All of this is very emotionally taxing because you are dealing with people, and people aren’t predictable. It’s really easy for managers to overwork, but the best ones find the right balance for themselves as taking care of yourself is a key component of taking care of others.

  • 4
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    Engineer @ Robinhood
    21 days ago

    Like Alex said: 20 hours is impossible nowadays (it might have been doable duruing the pandemic), but it's possible to work 30-40 hours (leaning to 30) if you know what you're doing. I've been doing this quite a bit recently since I've been a bit burnt out, but it requires very strong foundations for:

    • Reputation: you need a track record that immediately convinces people you know what you're doing.
    • Influence: you need to be able to use your reputation to get teammates to do work for you & you need to know where the bar is for that work. You also need to be able to advocate for yourself to be involved in the most impactful projects.
    • Technical fundamentals: you need to have strong technical fundamentals you can rely on to get code out faster and better than the company average.
    • Prioritization: you need to know what work is valuable for your team/org and what work matches expectations of your level.

    The higher the level, the more each category is structinized. At senior level and beyond, you need to be on point with all of these categories. All it takes is a bit of doubt to cause everything to fall down.