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How can I maintain work-life balance with a hectic oncall?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [E4] at DoorDash2 years ago

I spend a lot of time on oncall. There's just 3 engineers on the oncall schedule (2 other back-end engineers and myself), so we're all oncall once every 3 weeks. We hired 2 people and are looking to onboard them into the rotation later in the summer, so it will become once every 5 weeks for oncall soon-ish.

Psychologically, the oncall is very draining as I'm constantly fearing what’s going to happen. For example, I can't work out at the gym in peace as I'm constantly on high-alert in case an issue pops up. How can I have better work-life balance and less stress with this situation?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • As an oncall with only 3 people, it shouldn't have too high stakes. This means that you should be able to have a less aggressive SLA time (i.e. expected time to respond to issues). Try to make the agreed upon SLA time within your oncall rotation to be at least 1 hour. 1 hour will let you have 1 hour long work-out sessions or meals in peace.
    • 1 in 5 weeks is still pretty bad. A good oncall to me is 8 to 12 engineers. Try merging your oncall into another oncall. This is easier said than done, but I think this is the best solution.
    • Find peace with your mentality around fearing issues. As a SWE, especially in a high-growth company like DoorDash, it's vital to only worry about issues when they actually come up, not fearing them when they aren't there. Figure out how to compartmentalize your work and your life - Is there something you can do after core working hours to put your mind more at rest and purely reactive to work issues during oncall time vs. proactively worrying about them constantly?
DoorDash, Inc. is an American company that operates an online food ordering and food delivery platform. DoorDash went public in December 2020 on NYSE and trades under the symbol DASH.
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