Shorter hours in software industry


CNET article here on the reduction in hours worked per week at software development companies. So I have an opinion on this (I know, shocking, isn’t it?) that was not explored in the article. Many people who are putting in the big hours are doing so out of choice (in the article, there’s a guy who canceled his ski weekend…sounds like that was his choice and one he regrets). When I first started here, there were many nights where I was here until nine or ten at night. This was because I was excited to be here, I was getting cool stuff done, I loved my clients (microsoft.com…I’ll tell you about a job they have open later today). And it was totally my choice! Yeah, that is what happens when you hire passionate people…they are often passionate about exactly what they are working on. Did my manager love that I was staying here late and working my butt off? What do you think?

It is a rare manager that will walk by your office at 6 PM and say “the work day is over, you need to go home now”. It’s nice if they do, but I’ve rarely had managers that even cared what hours I worked. At Microsoft, I come and go as I please…sometimes I go shopping in the middle of the day or take a long lunch and run errands. I can do that because I don’t have specific “work hours”. If I take some personal time in the middle of the day, I make it up. As long as the job gets done, it doesn’t really matter what hours I worked. So nobody needs to be alarmed if they see me online at 8PM. It may simply mean that there was a sale at Nordstrom that I couldn’t pass up.

I also don’t think that there’s anything *wrong* with someone that wants to work more than 40 hours a week. When I am loving what I am doing, it’s easy for me to work a 50 hour week (sometimes more, if I choose). We are all grown-ups here that can make their own choices.

So, I hope that what is driving the reduction in work hours is employee choice and increased worker efficiency.

Comments (33)

  1. volvo says:

    Another reason tech jobs are flowing overseas – Lazy american workers.

  2. Curt says:

    volvo: Cripes, it’s not like we Americans get 6 weeks of vacation every year like our Euro-slacker friends. 😉

    heather: To call working more than 40 hours a week solely an employees choice is to sound clueless. It fails entirely to acknowledge that software folks seldom have control over our own deadlines, which are all too often unrealistic. Thus the choice is a) work extra hours, or b) keep standing up against unrealistic schedules. For most people that need to work for a living, b) is seldom a realistic option, as it generally involves the loss of possibility for advancement and (potentially) loss of continued employment. And yes, many, many people are still faced with this dilemma, even within Microsoft.

    What’s that? You say "Just leave your job and find a better one?" And go where?

  3. Dave says:

    Don’t forget there is a lot more motivation to put in the extra hours when you have half a million in stock options calling your name, other than the googlites there’s not many with that incentive any more.

  4. Heather says:

    Wow…evidently, I am lazy and clueless. Thanks guys…you are fun ; ) Curt, please note that I said "Many people who are putting in the big hours are doing so out of choice ". I didn’t say all. My point was that the article didn’t discuss the people who did this out of choice (and my example explained that I was one of these people). I didn’t call it "solely" an employees choice, as you said that I did. Maybe you want to re-read what I said before you get up in my grill, huh?

  5. Heather says:

    Dave-it’s certainly not an incentive to many of Googles post IPO employees.

  6. I think work hours are a bit like a SIN wave. We get all excited and passionate about our work. After some period of time we get into a groove and unless we have careers where tasks are ever changing we have formed more or less "muscle memory" with our jobs. We can do what took 60 hours in the now 40 hours we spend a week. So when things change and we get new exciting tasks to work on we then turn back up. I think that on average we work just as many hours as people did before the late 90’s bubble.

    Another thing to look at is the view of workers under the age of 40. I am 34 so I write about the generation I grew up with. We are from a lot of divorces and broken families. We got ourselves home and made our own dinners and did our homework before our parents came home. My parents broke up when I was 11. My Mother worked in a factory as a shipper and had to frequently change shifts for work. I remember for periods only seeing my Mom in the mornings when she worked 2nd shift. Things were Ok but I think that some of my generation now are looking back and seeing that they do not want our children to have to live like that. It has nothing to do with being lazy.

    When asked what would most people want; higher salary with same hours or more time off. I know I would ask for more time off if I had to make a choice. The reason is that I wish I had more time with my parents when I was a kid. Who knows what would have happened if I had parents that could have been with me more. I do not blame them but I know if I can spend time with my sons more I will do it. My wife has a MS in Industrial Psych and Organizational Development but why is she at home with our kids. She knows the importance of it in the long term. We made a choice. We took a huge cut in household income. We feel that for the next few years until our sons get into full days of schools she needs to be at home.

    There is a book called "The Thirteenth Generation" http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0679743650/qid=1109101203/sr=1-8/ref=sr_1_8/103-2842786-8816652?v=glance&s=books that predicted that our generation would start a trend back to focus on the next generation. I think we are starting to see this trend come to reality.

    So I am not preaching (I hope). I am not saying that my wife and I are the poster children of a new trend. But I wanted to make clear that we all choose our lives and what is important.

    <Chris gets off the soapbox> 🙂

  7. Heather says:

    Great points Chris (and you know what I think about the anonymous troll posters here anyhoo…just not that credible). I had a similar upbringing in that I was a child of divorce (also at 11) and my dad lived out of state. For me, being single, it’s totally OK if I want to work into the night. I do have some guilt about my dog, but I can let him out and get back to work if I want to. My flexibility in being OK with working at night comes from what I’m used to. So I see it working both ways. But again, totally my choice.

    I was just this morning reading a newsweek article called "The Mommy Myth" (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6959880/site/newsweek/) that explains why the whole concept of "having it all" isn’t necessarily what everyone wants. It’s pretty interesting and supports your points, Chris. In case anyone is wondering why I was reading the article, it’s to understand workforce trends….I won’t be making any baby announcements here….I promise ;

  8. Heather — I was going to include the trend in America that women are leaving the workforce (temp in some cases) to stay home with kids but did not. Additionally there is also a trend where fathers are staying home to care for the kids. I have a hard time watching my kids for a day or weekend so I will not be in that trend anytime soon. 🙂

    But yes it is all choices. I would much rather have kids that grow up to be mature, stable adults then to have 2 incomes when they were kids. I see too many kids and adults that are or were in well-to-do homes with "missing" parents and are lost today. There is a reason why our generation got the "slacker" tag on it.

  9. Tod says:

    volvo: That’s an extremely narrow-minded and incorrect judgement.

    Curt: You’re absolutely right about the two choices and the best way to fight for choice A is to have a good manager. That isn’t always in our control, but I’ve left positions before solely because of a poor manager.

    I easily average 45-50 hours/week, primarily because I love my job and I’ve really enjoyed working at MS since 1999. It’s also because I have a large sense of responsibility and rarely break commitments or deadlines…it’s just the way my folks raised me. 🙂 Another thing to keep in mind is that I’m on call 24×7 and it’s pretty common for me to get a call at 2am every few weeks, have to wake up and work for a few hours to fix a problem.

    It’s important to remember though, that my sense of responsibility extends to my family first and foremost. Actually, I’m at home right now because my wife is extremely sick with the flu (cannot even get out of bed!) and couldn’t take care of our 1 year-old daughter. I have an awesome manager that realizes we need to take care of our families first before we can be really productive at work! Meanwhile I’ve still spent at least a few hours this morning in email making sure my projects are taken care of.

    As far as my take on the story… I was kind of irritated with the description quoted from Adam Barr. I suppose it’s "more power to him" if he can get away with working less than 40 hours/week every single week, but if he were in my group I would resent him for it. Regardless of my choice to work more or less I think that management should hold everyone to a minimum requirement. If the position only has a part-time workload then why are we paying a full time salary & benefits for someone to work a short week?

    Obviously, in a perfect world, it should always be a matter of give and take between the company, the managers and the employee. Luckily, I feel that I’ve had that give and take since working here…

  10. Mark Tookey says:

    So Heather, now the real truth about your maternal instincts starts to come out…

    Seriously, there does seem to be a real feeling that younger workers are placing increasing importance on work/life balance. I read a piece in American Demographics some time ago that echoed exactly the points Chris was making. From a personal perspective, I would definitely place more time off above higher wages – my family lives on the other side of the world and a trip home to see them just about cleans me out of vacation time for the whole year. Mind you, vacation and hours worked are really kind of different. I don’t think it’s as big a deal to work long hours if you know that you can take time off when you need to recharge; it’s the less than three weeks total vacation and sick time a year that gets me down!

    Mark

  11. Tod says:

    Chris: You make some great points that I completely concur with.

    I would definitely up my vacation from 3 weeks a year to 6 instead of a comparable wage increase! My family comes first…I want to make certain that my daughter does not have to go through the divorce syndrome (my parent’s divorced when I was 11 also…what’s up with that age?)! I am always home for dinner in the evening with my wife and daughter! I watch my daughter if my wife works on the weekends (my Dad made my Mom get a babysitter even if he was still going to be home).

    My wife and I also made the choice that one of us would stay home with our daughter. It just so happens that my career choice has more than twice the salary potential of hers (she’s a fire-fighter) so she stays home.

  12. Heather says:

    OK a couple comments…first, you guys are what most women want their men to be (if they are inclined to be married or otherwise mututally commited, of course)…so keep doing that. Almost makes me want to be married…nah ; ) Just kidding, kind of. I’m going to point my more bitter friends to your comments ; )

    Chris-I would have the same problem staying at home with kids. Viva la choice, right?

    Tod-sounds like you have an ideal work situation (at least for someone who does the 24X7 stuff…which is not for everybody). How much of that did you know about during the interview process (the flexibility, etc.) and how much were you surprised by when you got here? Did it impact your decision to join? Just curious as to how important it is to people that are making a career decision and whether they typcially will seek out that kind of info or is it something their recruiter and/or potential manager should be serving up to them during the process. And also, how cool is it that your wife is a fire fighter? Right on!

    OK, about Mark, everyone doesn’t know he’s a Brit (with a texas accent to boot). So he’s used to those 5 weeks of vacation..right Mark? I can totally understand they you would need more than a few weeks to get back to the village. I’m going to keep bugging hyou to write a book about the village. I know you have a book in there ; )

  13. The way in which Microsoft stack ranks its employees against each other come review time means you have to put in at least as many hours as those at the same level within your group or risk the dreaded 2.5 review. That was fine when I was single and didn’t mind putting in 60 hour work weeks. But once I had kids I realized it wouldn’t work within my current group. I’m sure there were other groups at Microsoft that found a better "work/life balance" but it certainly wasn’t the case within my group. The freedom that Heather talks about being able come and go as you please also comes with a price. You’re expected to be available by email at anytime. I feel bad for those people whose main "passion" is work. I’d much rather spend an extra 10 hours a week with my wife and kids than at work.

  14. The way in which Microsoft stack ranks its employees against each other come review time means you have to put in at least as many hours as those at the same level within your group or risk the dreaded 2.5 review. That was fine when I was single and didn’t mind putting in 60 hour work weeks. But once I had kids I realized it wouldn’t work within my current group. I’m sure there were other groups at Microsoft that found a better "work/life balance" but it certainly wasn’t the case within my group. The freedom that Heather talks about being able come and go as you please also comes with a price. You’re expected to be available by email at anytime. I feel bad for those people whose main "passion" is work. I’d much rather spend an extra 10 hours a week with my wife and kids than at work.

  15. Mark Tookey says:

    Heather,

    Don’t you worry, the book about the village is already on the drawing board, and I have some ideas about the one after that too (I’m thinking a Bill Bryson-esque sort of thing about working in America as a Brit). And let me tell you, 5 weeks is nothing, my dad gets closer to 5 months (he’s a law lecturer). I always love to amaze people over here by telling them that the teaching year at my university was 19 weeks, and people still thought it was much too much work. We really are a lazy lot, us Europeans, but there are so many great wines, cheeses, beers, etc. etc. in the world, and so little time to enjoy them all…

    Mark

  16. Tod says:

    Heather: Yeah, I think that I have it pretty good, but especially now. I’ve jumped around quite a bit since joining in ’99 and for the most part I’ve had good managers which I think makes or breaks a job. All in all though, my current position is the best I’ve had @ MS. I have been given an awesome opportunity to learn new things (moving from a support engineer role to more of a dev role in our org) and grow my career within the company. It’s also nice to have a regular schedule…that makes being on-call a lot more tolerable.

    Basically, if you work in Operations then you’re either on-call or working shifts (or both if you’re a lead/mgr). I was well aware of the requirements during the interview process. I worked shift work for the first 3-1/2 years (loved swing…hated graveyard), which certainly required devotion and understanding from my wife. We had several conversations about working shifts and being on-call before I interviewed and even afterward. It’s never easy on a relationship to work different hours and have different schedules. Luckily my wife (of 8 years) rocks and also that was before our daughter was born.

    To answer your question directly, "Just curious as to how important it is to people that are making a career decision and whether they typcially will seek out that kind of info or is it something their recruiter and/or potential manager should be serving up to them during the process."

    Yes! That information should be provided to the candidate up front! When I moved to management and started participating in interviews (both FTE loops and contractor positions) that was the first thing I reinforced with the candidate. The recruiters were expressly told to emphasize that also so luckily I never surprised anyone. 🙂

    And yes, I think it’s totally cool that my wife is a fire-fighter! 😉

  17. Heather says:

    Brett-sorry, but you are wrong. You are making sweeping statements and interpreting my comments (please don’t…add your own, but no need to tell people what I am saying..I can speak for myself). For me personally, there has been no correlation between hours worked and review (in fact, if any relation, it may have been the opposite of what you said). If every performer did the same exact quality of work, that would make sense but we are not robots. Anyway, I’m cool with my reviews…I feel good about them so no need for me to try and explain why they are what they are. But that’s just me…

    Also, I am not expected to be available at any time. I don’t log on from home unless I am taking a "work-from-home" day. I do occassionally blog from home…again, my choice. I don’t check messages on the weekends, because I choose not to. I’ve probably worked one weekend day in the last 6 months (and again, that was my choice).

    Sounds like maybe you had a beef with a previous manager. I don’t have that beef.

  18. Mark — Wine, cheese, english/irish beer… you are not nice making me think of that stuff at work! 🙂

  19. Heather — Thanks on the compliments. My wife is a saint that has a heart of gold. That is the only way she would let me get away from being away for so many nights now that I am trying to brand myself by speaking and attending many user groups and functions. I have been out of balance the last few months. But people that stay home to care for kids actually have tougher jobs than the people who leave for work each day. If I mess up at work a software projects might slip or gets some bugs, if she messes up 2 lives are affected. so really I am lucky to have a woman like her.

  20. Heather says:

    Yeah….19 hour work weeks and beer and cheese. COuld cause some dogestive problems but otherwise sounds great! I’ll put in my transfer to London now! ; )

  21. Heather, by putting your comments on a public blog they become open to interpretation. Are we all just supposed to take what you say as gospel? I hope not. It sounds like you’ve found the ideal group within MS that values the work/life balance. That helps explain why building 25 is packed at 7 pm and bulding 19 isn’t. 🙂

  22. Heather says:

    I’m not in building 19, but that’s beside the point. I agree that what I said was my interpretation. Totally. When you said "The freedom that Heather talks about being able come and go as you please also comes with a price.", you were saying what I was talking about. That wasn’t what I was talking about (my freedom doesn’t come at a price). But you absolutely have a right to disagree…just not on my behalf.

  23. Curt says:

    Heather, a) I’ve re-read your article and I don’t think I’ve appreciably stretched your words. b) I never said that you said “all,” “some,” or “none.” But to say “We are all grown-ups here that can make their own choices” is precisely where I think you’re wrong–and I’m not referring to the “grown-up” part. See ya.

  24. Jeff Parker says:

    Well I do not get, big stock options. I write code. I have to agree with Heather that yeah us coders are passionate. I do not know if Heather can relate but I know there are guys there at MS that can. I few Heather more as a people person constant interaction with people. But a coder needs silence and undisturbed time

    Sometimes while coding you just get in the Zone. I do not know how to describe it but I am guessing it is similar to a runners high. You got your Ipod on, or Zen Micro which i prefer on, and your just cranking out some code. Your mind is thinking 20 methods and a few classes ahead of what your fingers are typing your thinking of formulas, your thinking how the next method your write will work with the different libraries, you know your going to have to go back and document all this which sucks but your just kind of letting it flow. I really think I am addicted to that feeling. However unfortunately very hard for me to get there anymore or get there for long.

    Rearanging of cubes we now sit in like blocks of four, "to provide better communication so sayeth the suits", but it is so much less productive Yeah cubes are loud as it is hence the headphones but still not as easy as someone sitting right beside you breaking your concentration. My neighbors find it more convenient to ask me advice or ask my opinion I even got jerked out of the zone today because one of my neighbors wanted to ask me why I don’t use the headphones that came with with my Zen, then asked me "What do you know about this RSS Stuff?" So for the last hour I have been trying to get back into the zone but I do not think it is going to happen. At least while here at work. BTW only one of my neighbors is another coder. The others just look at the the things we do and want to know but when you try to explain it in depth you get met with blank stares.

    The other thing is we got a new dress code. I don’t know about other coders but sitting here with something choking me makes me less productive as well. Now I will go home and code as well for several hours. But I can’t wait to get out of an unconfortable environment get home and relax and do what I do best write code. But when at home I am doing my own personal things or working on projects at sourceforge or gotdotnet.

  25. Heather says:

    OK Curt, we don’t have to agree. But we all do have choices, even if the choice is to stay in a job or look for another.

    Jeff—I know the zone of which you speak ; ) Cubes are tough. I am very easily distracted. So, at my last job, the gal sitting in the cube across from me leaving a voicemail for her cats would totally break my train of thought. I was in a bullpen environment in my first recruiting job (1994!) and that was the only time that an open environment like that worked for me. I still got totally distracted but I also learned a lot from co-workers. The benefits have to outweigh the potential for ditraction and lost productivity. Not sure if I could ever work in a cube again.

  26. gretchen says:

    Ok – I have to say I’m completely confused with some of the points a few commenters are trying to make, but I feel like I need to jump in here on a few points:

    I agree with Heather that (at least where we work) there is no correlation between hours worked and review score … and like she said, sometimes it’s the opposite relation of what Brett suggested. But I guess that could also be b/c the times that I’m performing the best, I’m also loving my job the most so I work with passion and fury and finish my work quickly. But I definitely don’t think working more hours equates to a higher review score. And I want to run out shopping during the day, I can. It just means that I’ll make up my work at another time, which I will. But I won’t be “docked” on my review.

    We also have more traditional “business hours” in the recruiting org. We are expected to get into the office earlier than most other employees (especially folks who work in technical roles … sorry, but it’s true) so we are also finished with our work sooner and we don’t “dilly-dally” during the day as much (sorry, but again it’s true … no foos ball machines here.) That’s why we are gone by 5 or 6. I wouldn’t say our group values work/life balance any more than any other group. I think work/life balance is what you make of it, and if you want it, you can have it. If you don’t want it, then you won’t have it. I truly believe you can make it work. If you can’t, then you definitely need to change jobs.

    All that said, I am different from Heather in that I do check email a lot from home. I attended college just as the email era was heating up so I think I’m just still addicted. I check it several times in the evenings, and two or three times a day on the weekends. Some people think that makes me too tied to work, but I think it just helps me relax and feel more in control.

  27. Jeff Parker says:

    Yeah cubes for certain positions are ok. But it isn’t coders I do not think it is a good thing. I went from a private office where I could sit and write all day, I could kick my shoes off under the desk, sit back and get into the zone. I built so many things in com of all things that it blew peoples minds. Now same company building in .net which is a much more productive environment. I know most of the stuff I am interacting with because I built it in com in the first place and I am much less productive. I absolutely love .net and I love sitting back just writing code in it, but when you can’t keep a train of thought for more than 10 minutes at a time it really sucks. I really can’t wait for 5:00 to come so I can go home and write some code. I also didn’t just like recently go to cubes I went to cubes 3 years ago.

    So anyway my point to this is are people working less hours as companies do things like cubes. I mean I now notice when people leave. Before in an office never noticed. Sometimes I get the attitude well my concentration is broken they are all leaving I might as well leave too. I have never been a clock watcher but as I start seeing people leave I think hmm must be time to leave. Once I start working and get the ball rolling i loose all track of time. I had to make my own alarm clock app on my PC at home to tell me to go to bed. Because once there and working I am oblivious to anything else going on around me.

    I wonder if anyone anywhere has ever done a study on the cost difference in the cost of lack of productivity from something like cubes vs. the cost of floor space for offices. I mean it is easy to see financial numbers from buying cheap cubes and cost per square foot, but the productivity difference is a hard thing to measure. Then how do you compare it not all people love what they do. So how does mixing people that do not like their jobs in with people that do like their jobs affect that as well. I am just fortunate to be one of those people who write code for a living and love to write code, but I am surrounded by people that just point and click and want it to work.

    Hmm maybe I should just send that resume to Microsoft. 😉

  28. Heather says:

    Gretchen-great points! I didn’t think about the traditional work hours in recruiting thing. Just lucky to have a role where I don’t have to be in at 8AM, but most recruiters are here at that time because that is when the interview days starts. "Rush hour" on campus is usually 9:30-10 as far as I’ve been able to tell.

    As you all know, I didn’t attend college during the e-mail era. I didn’t even start recruiting during it (paper resumes…filing cabinets…and fax machines..whee!). So it wasn’t really a big part of my life. Also, given that Gretchen’s husband is a tech guy, technology is obviously a part of their home. Not so much mine (I keep my PC in one of those desk armoirs so I don’t have to look at it…it messed up my feng shui). Again, it’s totally up to the individual.

    Jeff-I bet someone has done such a study. Maybe an organizational psych person would see something like this. At my last company, only Directors and VPs got offices…all the rest of us were in cubes. I definitely did get the sense that it was "time to leave" when the cubes near mine were vacated (but most of us took the train to work and so peoples’ work schedules were dictated, to some extent, by the train schedules).

  29. gretchen says:

    Oh, and Josh reminded me of another good reason why Bldg 19 clears out by 5:00. Half the people who park in our lot are interview candidates who are mostly done by 5. 🙂

  30. Anil says:

    This seems to be a very hot topic.

    My family comes first … always. I am very passionate about my work and I can stay in the office for extra hours if needed. I have worked weekends both from home and the office whenever deadlines had to be met. But my family always came first. When I was single, things were different.

  31. Catalin says:

    Yes, Heather. My manager usually says to me to go home when he pass through the offices, and see me at work at 9 o’clock in the evening. I really appreciate that, because show me that he understands that each people has a private life. I saw many managers which ask you where are going when they see you leaving home at 9 PM after 12-14 hours of working. It happend to me in the past. Anyway, as you said, I stay at work because I like my job very much, and I even forget to look to my watch. I love to have flexible hours, to came and leava when I want, and do my exciting work. Too bad, that you cannot find these things everywhere.

    Bye,

    Catalin

  32. Andy says:

    When I was young & single I’d work insane hours (normally 80 hour weeks). We’d work until 11 or so have a few beers and then stride back in around 10 the next day (thinking it was cool that I could come in so "late"). Weekends including, although I’d take it easier on Sunday…

    The problem here is that in doing that I wasn’t optimal during the day. I’m sure I wasn’t really even very productive until at least noon (as I was tired and still waking up). Also being able to claim at least 80 hours… I have a "notch" up on others – which while I admit should not be reflected in your reviews, it totally is. Managers happen to drive by the office after eating out and see your car sitting there… or are out late having a beer and happen to notice your car there… or see a flurry of e-mails that were sent late at night…. these all lead to the impression of ‘damn what a hard worker’.

    Of course these thing are easily faked. I had one job where overtime was the company mantra… it was highly valued (we were a small start up, option grants). People would obviously do any of the following:

    a) Have someone else pick them up to go out and leave a car at the office

    b) Claim they were going to "work from home" and not really work… i later found out one guy would crank his computer volume up to detect when e-mails came in… then watch movies 😉

    c) Go home, go to bed and then wake up around 1am to send out a "status" or list of questions

    d) Do a lot of goofing off during the normal hours where the late shift was either too sleepy to realize or not in yet.

    It’s easy to miss this stuff if you are heads down and working hard… also a small percentage of over achievers can easily help make up the shortfalls this creates – I was helping many other people out and not even thinking twice about it… I mean it was "my team" and I wanted to help.

    The other problem this creates is it becomes hard to measure "honest" work. If I’m a manager and I want to load everyone with enough for 40 hours a week… how do I do that? If my basis is a group doing 60 (with half honestly only doing 30, not to mention the talent base is widely varied) how do you figure that out? You don’t. You have to start measuring productivity… although those working the hardest are normally not seeking the credit (someone working 30 can easily exert a little additional effort to poach some work at the last minute).

    I also believe that at least half of the coders I know are abnormal people who have no real life to call their own to begin with. So some anti-social person who doesn’t like talking to people, given a choice will sit at his/her computer longer anyway – great! Now those that "choose" to work hard for 40-50 hours a week and spend time with the family have less of a choice… they look like crap compared to the workhorse that is throwing in 80 and not even complaining.

    I had another job that had as it’s #1 priority a work family balance. Old timers there would do strict 8-5. If you stayed until 6 you were one of the last to go, but the cool thing was nobody acknowledge you for staying late without a reason… that model encourages people to move their heads outside the company and expand… I also think it balances people out more and makes them more concentrated during core hours (when the rest of the team is there anyway). Btw, doesn’t google allow for something like 20% of your week to be spent on personal interest – how cool is that?

    It’s a tired saying, but work smarter not harder is really something that should be cultured. Companies have no short term loss if they ask/request/force someone to work longer hours. Espically since most tech people are exempt from overtime pay (twice the work, same pay – uh ok…).

    Oh and this comment about outsourcing being the answer is obviously from someone who doesn’t understand didly about that. I’m currently working with the outsourcing model. We roughly pay $1 hour for every year of experience with the technology that is worked on… so a C++ project and a developer with 5 years C++ experience would get $5/hour. That person will "work" 14-18 hour days, or at least claim that. That person will also drop everything and walk away when offered a job that pays $5.20/hour. Also the quality of work is much less, not to mention the effort involved in getting that person started (cost of communication, training, etc). Also consider that India is a 3rd world country when compared to the states. You can live on $5 a day (very well by local standards). Alot of people support their entire immediate family… so they need more than that, but the cost of living is… dirt cheap (there are also lower standards of living too).

    I honestly believe that labor unions in the tech industry will one day happen (I’ve often considered trying to start them myself). Alot of people in the tech industry know the "trade unions" where you can’t pick up a screwdriver to remove a cover plate unless that is your "trade". I think they have all heard stories of a 10 minute task taking days, but eventually people will perk up and realize that companies will keep taking advantage of their efforts and showing little regard for it (calling someone lazy for working less than 50 hours is a common occourance in the industry).

  33. Chaithanya says:

    Lots of great points here.

    One thing that I often try to reconcile though – the culture in corporate america is such that if you really want to rise through the ranks, you have to work very long hours. Or more importantly, you have to give up on the notion of work-life balance. I doubt most senior executives or entrepreneurs have much work-life balance.