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Ask HN: What are the typical work hours in Silicon Valley?
59 points by bubblehack3r on July 17, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 50 comments
I have not been able to find an answer for this and sadly I do not have any friends currently living there :(

10-6. Software engineer at a large web company. Some people come in earlier, some later. The expectation is mostly around getting the job done, not how much time you spend in your seat. Also, be there for meetings. If I'm ever invited to a 9am meeting, I will be there and would expect anyone else to do the same. Most meetings would not be scheduled at that time unless there's no other options though.

10-6 M-F is about what I've seen, too. Expect pushback if you schedule a 9 am meeting, but people will show up if there's a good reason.

A few times a year there may be a crunch time when people work longer hours and maybe come in on the weekend, and I strongly advise stepping up at those times or you'll take a serious social hit.

The 60-80 hour work weeks that people speak of are actually quite rare. A few teams and a few very motivated people work that way, but most don't.

We do the same, try not to schedule a meeting before 9am, one that would complete after 4pm, and during 12-1pm. But people will do a meeting for lunch in preference of doing one that keeps us after 4. It's a nice system and one of the few things everyone gets along on.

How long for lunch breaks ? Or eating at your keyboard ? (Speaking from a country where they are typically 1 hour long, so idk what's the norm )

I think this depends on lot on the team's culture and the company culture. When a company serves lunch, teams tend to eat together and can get done in 30 minutes without rushing.

Not even close to SV, but that's my schedule as well, though I'm at the computer half an hour earlier.

I'm in Argentina btw.

If we go out, 1 hour. If we eat in, 30 minutes. There will also be several smaller breaks during the day.

At Google I work 9-5 or 10-6. I take about 30 minutes for lunch and occasional five to ten minute coffee/snack breaks. Recently I've been trying to set aside my last hour of work to read a programming book relevant to my job. Most people here work similar schedules, but typically it's the youngest and newest employees that work longer (which is not expected, and sometimes actively discouraged by managers).

I work ~85% remote for a Bay Area startup, and I'm sure every company is different, but I would say roughly 9-5 with a strong expectation that if something happens over the weekend or I need to be on a call with a customer in India late at night that I will be there. So call that that 9-5 with 24/7 on-call, 7 days per week.

Being on-call, with rounds switching among peers every week is an option.

I worked at a small startup in Santa Clara for about a year. The team was small and generally a bit older than me (35-37 and married).

The team was expected to generally work well beyond "9 to 5" and work / be available for calls on weekends.

Long story short, I no longer work there. As a young developer I did learn a lot though.


In hindsight, I'd worked at three startups in college prior to this job (in Austin and Boston) and I think it boiled down to my boss being an incredibly smart well intentioned guy, but he just couldn't manage people nearly as well. I was mostly turned off when we'd work so hard that we'd miss possible problems or build features we didn't need that could've been avoided by simply taking a step back and maybe thinking about it for an extra day.

It's usually a very individual decision. It also depends on where you work and the age of your co-workers. My younger co-workers would arrive like 9:30 for breakfast, and leave at like 7-7:30 after dinner. I've also worked with people who would get in at 11 and leave at 8 or 9. Older co-workers with families will generally work a 9-6 or something, and often won't stay for dinner (but may occasionally bring their families for dinner :p)

Parent post generally agrees with what I've seen. I'm older with family and generally work 9-6. I eat free company lunch at my desk most days.

Your question is too broad. You're going to get a very big set of answers because you've asked over so much time and space. Please allow me to answer a series of more specific questions that may help you understand more than the "average."

What are the typical work hours in a large tech company in California?

Very few require more than 50 hours a week. Typically people are in office 7-8 hours a day, and often put in some time handling communications or catching up on small sums of work in the evenings.

Folks in higher management positions (directors and above) typically work more in a company like this. The demands on directors and above in tech companies are uncharacteristically high.

What about medium sized companies with less than 300 people?

This starts to get into the "it depends territory." Companies this size are small enough to still become reliant on extraordinary effort from individuals. Being a manager is often very stressful in smaller-but-not-small companies like this because you're always juggling resource scarcity.

Engineers should expect 8 hours a day, but occasionally much longer. This kind of company is often not-quite-there-yet on having well-managed infrastructure that doesn't page you at 3am.

What's it like working at a very small startup when I'm not in the first 3 employees?

You can tell if it's going to be more-but-okay (50-60 hours a week) or unsustainable (70+) by talking to the founders. Most small venture-funded companies will optimize their hiring around single people willing to take long hours for less pay and the hope of a payout.

What's it like founding a company?

It is what you make of it. You absolutely should expect some absolutely booked weeks. It'll be awful. It may or may not be worth it.

In summary: the larger the company the more time upper management will put in and the more normal hours everyone else gets to work.

There is a lot of 11-8 in the city (ppl avoiding traffic)

Users of hacker news might skew the results a bit. If you are doing 60+ hour weeks, you might not want to waste time on here.

I suspect it's the inverse. The companies I've been at with a 9-5 culture spend a much higher percentage of their time doing "real work" than those with an unpaid overtime culture.

for approximately 2 months, before the burnout leads to you doing nothing but wasting time on HN

I personally do 9-5 with a 30 minute lunch, maybe 60 minutes if I meet a friend or something. A lot of startups tend to have flexible hours, especially for software engineers. I've worked in places where some engineers don't get in until 10:30, but they stay until 7:30. There are a lot of people who work overtime, though, like 9am-9pm, but I've never been that type, and nobody has ever complained about my productivity, so it seems like a personal preference. I prefer to come in early and leave a little early, because I value my time with my family and friends much more than I do a couple more hours at the office. I learned a long time ago that there will always be more work to do tomorrow.

I think the hours that work for you really depend on how much time you need to be by yourself. If you're busy with meetings during the 10am-4pm hours, then maybe you want to get in early at 8am or leave later at 7pm so that you have some alone time to get work done without being pestered by others.

I contrast this experience with my jobs in Chicago and Atlanta, where 9-6 was expected, and if you showed up late you would get in trouble. I haven't really experienced that in SF or SV, unless there was a 9am meeting that I missed because I was late. (Hasn't happened yet, but it's the only reason I would get yelled at.)

I'm fairly close to 9 to 5 or 6. 3-4 days a week I get up at the crack of dawn to get 2-3 hours in before anyone is up. (It's my best time for uninterupted thinking)

At a prior job it was flipped - most nights a few hours an evening to talk to India.

I haven't had a silicon valley job that encroached on dinner on a regular basis, but part of that is how I selected the firms.

I generally work 9-5 or 10-6

Can you share your current job role?

Software Engineer

What about lunch break ?

20% of people get comped meals by their employer, meaning they eat in the office, most if not all days. This includes Google.

35% of people eat in "subsidized" onsite or on-campus cafeterias and foodcourts. This tends to include Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple.

15% of people will go to local area eateries, grab their food to-go, then return to the site to keep their time offsite to a minimum, then eat at their desk. Personal orders to Grubhub, etc. fall in this category, and this category is growing.

15% of people will go to area eateries, dine in. These tend to be upper management, as it's easier to argue that it's a working lunch.

15% skip all meals or snack on food brought from home.

If you're making $80/hr., a one-hour lunch break unpaid makes your lunch about $100, so it's a very expensive decision to take a continental-style lunch offsite.

If you think as a big part of your job, your employer derives a free benefit from your time spent offsite. If you lose focus by spending time offsite, your employer derives an expensive benefit by feeding you free lunch.

Wow, here in Berlin things go totally different.

1 hour lunch break is often encouraged by employers. Working as a freelancer I work an "extra" hour, because of my lunch break. So do the employees here.

I have the same experience in Berlin, you can go do whatever you want, but lunch break is your time "outside of the 8 work hours" :-(

Some bring from home

I count lunch break as part of my time at work. My employer doesn't require me to punch in or punch out. People don't stay longer than 8 hours a day much though.

It depends on the company and the culture. Here I usually take 30-45 mins to eat my lunch brought from home + talk to other people eating lunch. Some go out and take a full hour. A lot of non-developers, interestingly enough, always eat food while working.

I work remotely for a large SV company. I typically start around 8 am (no commute) and work an eight to nine hour day, sometimes broken up into blocks depending on what I have going on in my real life.

It's all over the place. On my team we have the following rough schedule.

* Me: 8ish to 6ish

* Eng 1: 930ish to 630ish

* Eng 2: 830ish to 630ish

* Eng 3: 1030ish to 730ish

* Eng 4: 8ish to 6ish

* Eng 5: 830ish to 630ish

* Eng 6: 830ish to 630ish

But the team skews a little older and a little more settled down.

In Belgium (Europe) i work from 06:00 to 14:00 Best hour to avoid trafic. We can choose or start hour between 06:00 and 09:00

Look at the rush hours it'll give you a clear understanding of how wide the range is in the Bay Area. Traffic starts at 5am and ends at 10:30am on the morning, then starts at 2:30pm and ends at 7pm. This is for the big rush. Some people still still start at 11am and end at 8pm.

10-6/7pm or 11-7/8pm. Sometimes I flip to a night schedule 7pm-7am if a lot needs to get done. (I'm much more productive at night, and my previous bosses would let me work overnight in the office when it was quietest).

At Facebook, I normally work from 8-4. I'm an early person, have kids to pick up from afterschool in the afternoon, and am on a team of people with similar schedules, so this works for me. Most people seem to work ~10-6, though.

In my experience it depends largely on yourself. No one is really checking what time you clock in and what time you clock out. That said many people like their job and work long hours voluntarily.

My work is really flexible, so I come in around 930, and I tend to leave around 4:45 or so. I'm just not productive after that so there's no use sitting in a desk killing time

I work for a large enterprise security company. I work 1 or sometimes 2 days a week from home. I spend about 6 hours in the office, usually from 10-4. My commute is really long, close to 2 hours one way, so I got my company to reimburse for a verizon jetpack, so that I can work during the commute. Apart from the window of time I spend at work, I work the remaining hours when I am in the right mindset. Sometimes, this is early in the morning, or late in the evening.

Is it frowned upon to ask during an interview what hours most engineers work? Will that hurt your candidacy?

Only at companies that plan to take advantage of you. Companies with healthy cultures will be honest with you and will be glad you asked so expectations are aligned.

9-5 or 10-6, and if something breaks (rare) then you deal with it

40-60 hours depending on employer.

i'm putting in at least 50 hours

Are you getting paid for 50 hours?

That's great question

9:30 - 5


Haha, and another group blames us (Indian here) for being in office too long without working and pulling down the general team culture.

Sorry I was not being racist but trying to point out that culture plays big role

Yep, I didn't think you were racist. Just pointing out that there is the opposite complaint too.

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