Achieving Excellence

Balancing Work and Life — By the Hour

by MJ Maloof
Balancing Work and Life — By the Hour

I’ve spent most of my professional career in salaried positions. From my first job after college at a top tier management consultancy, to a decade working in venture capital, to a leadership position in a tech startup, I’ve always had a base salary with some level of variable bonus. These were competitive roles with competitive comp. They also came with an expectation that the title and the salary meant I was effectively always available to work.

Early in my career my fellow Bain ACs and I wore our 80+ hour work weeks like badges of honor. Work life balance wasn’t in my vocabulary. When I entered the world of VC, it was assumed I would be available day or night, 7 days a week. I would do whatever it took to get the deal done, whether that meant negotiating with an entrepreneur after hours or completing analysis to support a term sheet on a competitive opportunity. Even when I took a job at a corporate VC where the rest of the organization had much more of a nine-to-five culture, my work never stopped.

Moving to a startup only exacerbated that phenomenon. I was always on, always available, putting out fires and solving problems around the clock. I was in constant communication with my CEO. One year at the company holiday party, my wife and I were having a conversation with the CEO and his wife. A colleague came by with a camera and suggested we take a couples picture. Both of our spouses instinctively stepped out of the frame assuming the couple in question was my boss and me.

After 4 years of being fully immersed in high stakes decisions at a startup, I was burned out. I had been working on a major strategic partnership for about 6 months. I successfully concluded that deal, then I pulled the ripcord. I needed some time to decompress, reevaluate, and make some decisions. I felt like I had been finishing one marathon at the starting line to the next one for my entire professional career.

After a long summer of fishing, hiking and reconnecting with my family, I decided it was time to start thinking about what I would do next. As I began to dip my toe back in the waters of the professional world, a job posting popped up on my LinkedIn page. The skillset was a match, the comp was in my target range, but it was paid by the hour. I had lots of questions, but I also didn’t have a lot to lose, so I clicked Easy Apply. 10 days later I had an offer to join the team at Crossover as an Organization Builder and a significantly better understanding of Crossover’s model.

The work was interesting, my colleagues were amazing, and the comp was great. Crossover’s fully virtual workforce meant I no longer needed to travel, I didn’t even need to commute. Initially, I felt like a high end gig worker. I described the role to my friends as “BRBO” — Brain Rental By Owner, but within the first few weeks something clicked for me. While I had initially been skeptical of the hourly model, I soon realized it provided me with something I had never been able to attain from any of my previous roles — boundaries.

All work is transactional, but in many jobs the lines can blur. At Crossover, it’s simple and straightforward. While unconventional, our model cuts through the nonsense of what I call “work theater” — the expectation, particularly in tech companies, that you should be working all the time. Crossover uses well defined work units, high expectations of quality, and great people to get things done without people feeling like they need to work all the time (or pretend to). It makes life simple. When you are on, you are on, you are focused and you deliver. When you are off, you are off. Those simple and clear boundaries are one of the things that make the structure at Crossover really great.

Make no mistake, the work is intense. When the meter is running, so to speak, there is only complete focus and productivity. But once I stop the clock, I’m able to give my family not just more time, but higher quality time, because I can now truly leave the work behind. I know that many people are able to manage that approach in a salaried role, I’m just not one of them. Working at Crossover provided me a level of freedom and flexibility that had eluded me prior to this point. I finally achieved a true work life balance.

Recently, the real value of that concept came into sharp relief for me. My wife received an unexpected medical diagnosis that required major surgery and a long recovery. Not only could I easily reduce and reshuffle my hours to be where my family needed me to be, but I was able to give my partner the total dedication she deserves. I didn’t have to worry about any distractions, phone calls, emails, slack messages or any of the other noise that was inescapable in my previous roles. I was able to be fully present. Work was work, life was life, and I could switch between the two like walking through a door.

Crossover’s approach isn’t for everybody, but it challenged my expectations and my assumptions. Working here has changed my perspective on the tradeoffs I was making. More specifically, it helped me realize I didn’t have to make those tradeoffs at all. Maybe you don’t either. If you’re ready to move your career and your life in a different direction, I encourage you to visit crossover.com/jobs today.

About Crossover: Crossover is a recruiting and workforce management platform for businesses with 100% remote workforces. Crossover hires people directly into long-term roles at a number of software businesses. We are adding hundreds of people a month in positions spanning software engineering, sales, finance, support, marketing and operations. All of the positions listed at crossover.com/jobs publish the pay rate along with tons of info on what to expect in the position.