Richard Liu almost made this explicit when he stated that people who didn't adhere to it were not his "brothers".
The mystery to me is that if my suspicion is correct, then the CEOs and upper management must think that devotion is ultimately (long-term) more important than productivity is to the bottom line... and I have no idea why. I don't buy the explanation that all of this is just "dumb". Something is up with this.
The explanation is that Homo economicus, the economic optimizing agent, is a leaky abstraction on top of a killer ape. In the modern environment, it's easy to forget that our brains did not actually evolve to deal with money, let alone the high-tech infrastructure of a modern corporation. They evolved to dominate other apes on the African savanna.
But evolution does not document its handiwork. Our genes did not give our brains an explanation of game theory and the evolutionary utility function. They gave our brains a propensity to seek power and to feel pleasure when successfully wielding that power to hurt other people. That this behavior was adaptive in the ancestral environment is a historical fact, not represented anywhere in our neurons.
So yes, it's not about productivity, it's not about profit. It is, as Orwell put it, about the end goal of a boot trampling a human face, forever. That is the default fate of humanity unless that fate is actively and continually opposed.
There are myriad ways that humans tend to make bad decisions in the course of modern life. Psychology and evolutionary biology currently provide the best answer to "why".
If you want to understand yourself well enough to be able to avoid having marketers and advertisers make your most important life choices for you, or want to raise your children to think critically about statements they hear even when it means overcoming confirmation bias, or want to think about how to help society escape detrimental Nash equilibria that lead catastrophic global warming, a deep and accurate understanding of human behavior seems to me to be clearly better than simply operating under the wildly simplistic assumption that people always behave rationally in the pursuit of well defined goals.
I think it’s wrong to assume that evolutionary psychology and sociology are mutually exclusive.
All those people on 996 could fuck around for 5 hours a day doing nothing useful, and as long as a small percentage of them bring themselves to do 30 minutes work every now and then, it could still be a net win for the company.
Profit also doesn't scale proportionally to productivity. In some of these big business markets you probably just need to be a bit more productive than your competition to reap huge rewards. Most employers aren't going to throw their workforce under the bus for a 5% gain, but if that's all you need to corner an entire market or roll your next biggest rival, then suddenly it might look like a fine deal.
Kai-Fu Lee discusses this culture in the Founders Fund podcast Anatomy of Next. He suggests that many of the workers will be the only ones in their family who have high paid office jobs. The rest work in factories, farms and other manual labor. Thus, they see an opportunity to be successful and lift their family out of poverty.
For some people this is called breaks.
Yes, you shouldn't do 12 hours full working, you should take sufficient number of breaks in between.
This will fit the 996 system.
In addition, mindlessly repeating experiments isn't a break.
What constitutes a breaks of course different for each person.
Maybe some prefer go to gym instead or going for coffee, or simply just strolling around.
Not always true. In the US, you can be required to stay on premises, but it must be paid.
That's actually what Jack Ma asked for in his original WeChat posts. You simply can't ask a passionate employee to work in a fixed schedule, because they prefer working MUCH LONGER than 996.
Most of those companies are not forcing their employees to work 996 on paper. But if you don't, then first, your team leader will give you some hint to ask you to stay longer. If you still don't, you will be fired for any number of reasons (KPI is too low for example).
Because of that, the company actually don't need to force it's employees. It just keep giving them tasks which cannot be finished without work 996, plus some peer pressures (One of it is "Boss's still here, you can't leave").
Jack Ma's "forcing staff to work overtime are ‘foolish’" statement is basically the same thing: You need to fight for your own future. On the surface, it's correct, but underneath it, he's trying to make you believe Personal strive === Overwork.
It worth notice that Jack Ma also said "If you love your job, 12 hours is not very long" (“如果你热爱（工作），其实12个小时不算太长”) just days ago. Hit: If you don't work 12 hours a day, you don't love your job.
Some background: Jack Ma is a lair who also likes to pretend to be a Life Advisor, he will sometime throw out some bullshit to convince others to sacrifice for him. You need to read between lines.
> “Those who can stick to a 996 schedule are those who have found their passion beyond monetary gains,” Ma wrote.
You see what's going on here :)
Edited to fix some grammar problem. Hope that will make it easier to read. Thanks for pointing out :)
Yes, I fixed it again.
This sounds exactly like the accounts of what it’s like to work as an Amazon delivery driver.
Or an Uber driver trying to make minimum wage.
I don't see how that example works with this topic of overtime/overwork.
First up, I'm not arguing against the fact that there are many many managers, bosses, directors and CEOs that use emotional manipulation to blackmail employees to do their bidding even though on paper they claim differently. They give it all sorts of names to make you believe this behaviour is okay. The most damaging use of emotive language makes you feel crazy for feeling the way you feel. This invalidation of your experience, of your feelings, is pulled straight out of the narcissist's playbook and it has a name - it's called gaslighting. Making you feel crazy and invalidating you for feeling the way you do. "If you loved this job, you'd do this for me. If you don't do this for me, you can't possibly love this job." Anyone who has escaped an emotionally abusive relationship will attest to how damaging this one technique is. It's often the tool of choice for a narcissist to maintain emotional control of their target.
It's tough to spot because usually the people at the top got there by being charismatic and motivational. They're charming and make you want to follow them... the same way they treat their partners to get them into a relationship before they invalidate them and make them feel crazy to keep control of them and keep them from leaving. The language they're using to make you follow them is manipulation and is also another tool lifted directly from the narcissist's playbook. Beware of the way people make you feel to get you to play along. When you start to feel like your feelings are crazy and that you feel guilty for not wanting to play along, chances are you're being manipulated using these tools.
Secondly, the first part of the statement Ma made, given my own experience is, to an extent, true: "if you love your job, 12 hours is not very long."
I tend to agree that if you're occupied by something you love to do or are fascinated by, 12 hours doesn't seem very long. My experience has been that it tends to go by in the blink of an eye. This statement can stand alone without any implication. I frequently work for 12-18 hours straight without even realizing I've done it and then wonder how I didn't even notice it had got dark and I've missed dinner.
However, the opposing statement that if you don't work 12 hours, you don't love your job just isn't true in my experience. There are days, honestly, where I'm fairly apathetic towards work and I struggle to sit in front of my computer for even an hour. This doesn't mean I don't love my job. It just means I don't love what needs to be done right now.
Just because all cats are mammals does not mean that all mammals are cats.
Here is the part of statement from Jack Ma for better context, you can judge it by yourself (full: https://finance.sina.com.cn/china/gncj/2019-04-12/doc-ihvhie...):
(Notice I have difficulties when translating Chinese word by word to English, because expression of the two language is different. But I'll make marks to help you understand)
> Today we have this huge amount of resource, and a heavily mission, a mission to build a world where people can do trade with ease. Can we do that without effort? No. Because of that, if you plan to join Alibaba, you have to get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise, what do you come here for? We have many people who work 8 hours a day comfortably (in the society. maybe? translator's guess). If today we going to hire some people for 8 hours/day job, and provide such good office, good condition ('condition' means "our company is better than others", translator's mark), good cafeteria and honourable title, a street full of people would wanted the job. (Translator's note: What he meant was: The job is honourable/decent, the office is good, the cafeteria is good, and all of those is not here for somebody who could only work 8 hours a day.)
> But what we need? We ask you what you wanted when you join this company? The answer is to change yourself, help others, and make our mission a reality.
> During the early years, we at Alibaba also work long hours, why? We have to learn after a day's work is done. We learn what we did wrong, what need to be fixed, and how we learn from each other (Translator's note: Should be "Learn from our mistakes, learn how to fix the mistakes and learn from each others"). The extra 2 to 3 hours after work is for learning and advancing our knowledge, not overwork.
> I hope Alibabaers (Translator's note: employees) love the work you do, if you don't, even 8 hours is too long for you, but if you do (love your job), 12 hours is not very long.
That's fine, I don't want to work at a place like that. I work hard, really fucking hard. I'm good at what I do. I've made a name for myself because I work hard to be the best I can be at what I do. I give back every time I can. I mentor. I send the elevator back down as often as I can. If a company doesn't come looking for me because of the reputation of commitment I've spent the last 35 years pouring my blood, sweat and tears into building, I don't want to work for them.
You can have your people on the street and treat them as slaves and you'll get the quality of work out of them you can expect out of a sweatshop. I will go somewhere that my contribution is valued.
A hell of a lot more equity than the average Alibaba worker gets today?
Sum up the post:
1. What Jack Ma is trying to do, is equalizing Personal strive and overwork (for him).
2. In China, company have many ways to force employees stay in long hour without literally say so. For example "When boss don't leave, you don't leave", and/or giving out tasks that you can't finish without overwork.
You're doing fine for nonnative, just still mildly noticeable.
Considering the topic of this post (and the hanzi in their comment), I'd venture to say s/he speaks some dialect of Chinese as a first language.
I think that what they write has little connection to truth in a situation like this but with that said I have no idea nor do I really care to form an opinion yet.
Google news and other social media used to do this until they got pressured to "localize" the news and favor "authoritative" sources.
What is shocking is how the same event is covered so differently by different countries and media groups. But the only way you would know this is if you actively search for news which is getting more difficult and which hardly anyone does.
I'd like to see it user/community driven. A user generates a topic and one headline. Then other users and the algorithm add headlines to the topic. And if there are two similar topics, it would require a curator intervention to join the topics.
Also, "sourcing + hashing" the articles and headlines so that you can see a "diff" of the articles and headlines in case the media companies change or alter the articles/headlines without informing their customers would be nice.
But if anyone tried this, I'm sure the media companies would attack the startup and of course with the new EU copyright laws, it might open the startup to lawsuits or takedown requests. Not to mention many countries might simply ban it outright.
> But in a speech to Alibaba staff on Thursday, Ma said the company expected people to be ready to work 12 hours a day since it had huge commitments to its clients.
> “If you don’t work 996 when you are young, when will you? Do you think never having to work 996 in your life is an honour to boast about?” he said in the speech.
Why wouldn't you think this?
Because you’re Asian? (My dad once asked me, when he perceived I was slacking as a teenager: “Do you know how to work a sixteen hour day?” Worked fine for him—he grew up in a village in Bangladesh and sent two kids to college in the United States. Writ large, it seemed to work pretty well for Japan and Korea as well, which went from developing nations to developed nations in a few generations.
In a place like China, you have to work hard. Most do it on a farm or factory. You’re lucky if you can do it in an office.)
All that working hard is to catch up to a country that pushed the envelope on a 40 hour work week, and at least made an effort to respect the right of the worker to have a life outside the office?
I find the argunent/cultural value unconvincing when most of the country's innovation has been fostered through copycatting, IP theft, and exploitative market gatekeeping.
I don't mean any offense, nor do I assert the United States is saintly in the non-abuse of workforce, or in any trade related department really, but given what we've been finding out about Chinese IP hijacking, their hostile trade practices, and personal experience working with Chinese H-1B's (whom if I catch trying to pull that 996 nonsense, I send home after 40 hours), I do think it's just an underhanded tactic used by authority figures on a vulnerable population.
The fruits of passion are best grown without compulsion. Play unites artist and engineer as Tao does one in the state of no mind.
One cannot be moved or inspired by heaven and earth stuck behind a screen toiling for one's master.
Hell, weren't the Chinese the same culture who brought us the gem of wisdom that "one who lacks control of oneself brings only strife when faced with the responsibility to control something larger than themselves"[Confucius paraphrased]? Where have these workers had the time to develop as healthy individuals? Not just to gather academic knowledge, but the wisdom born of personal folly to employ that intelligence well?
For a wealthy man in a purportedly communist regime, Mr. Ma seens, at least to me, whether he realizes it or not, to be falling into the worst tendencies of capitalistic practices hook, line, and sinker. The People suffer under the boot of a man who has grown so accustomed to the creature comforts afforded by his position that he has forgotten the reason he is where he is in the first place.
To usher the Chinese people to a new age of glory and prosperity.
At least, that's the Party line, is it not?
Surely others see the disconnect here, or am I just mad, and completely out of tune with the zeitgeist/realpolitik?
Nowhere in that is a blanket "Thou shalt do and ask no questions, lest you be punished."
There isn't Japan. Blind obedience went out of style in 1945, and should stay gone. We all know where that leads.
"A son who does not admonish an unreasonable father leads his family to ruin.", Confucius [paraphrased] again.
The 40 hour work week isn't even a luxury. It's required if you want some semblance of social stability. Industrialization was revolutionary in that tooling, factories, and infrastructure created an environment where work could happen 24/7/365. That doesn't mean it should, especially to the benefit of a few, at the cost of the livability of life for everyone else. Industry is meant to cure societal ills, not to act as a building block for exponential manufacture of new societal ills to be fixed by the very root cause of the original malaise.
I may not be Chinese, and may not fully understand current pan-Asian culture, but I weep at the tragedy I see unfolding whereby a culture seems to be cannibalizing itself into something nigh-unrecognizable from what it once was.
It seems to be happening everywhere nowadays.
> It’s a luxury for the already rich.
This sounds like you think it is an honor to boast about.
Korea had a different feel. It was more of a feeling of banding together and weathering the hard times for a brighter future. Korea doesn't really have natural resources, and they don't have a lot of manpower, so the only thing they can do is work massive hours. Now that the nation has achieved some kind of success, it's getting harder and harder to get the younger generation to buy into that mentality, in addition to the lack of jobs and security of the previous generations.
Do they all coordinate to get out of the way of each other’s photos, or how exactly does this work?
Either Bloomberg got a lot worse; or I was too dumb to realize how bad they were in the past.
Most people think fake news is reporting false information. But nowadays it’s relatively easy to fact-check something. Much more onerous is selecting facts to report on so as to tell a story that fits an agenda. It’s harder to recognize, and hey—it’s facts! What could go wrong?
No, it's opinions and editorializing. Because if all news that are made to fit an agenda are "fake news", all news would be "fake"
"Fake news" is just propaganda presented as "news."
Oh wait, no. The other thing. The thing about never trusting anything you read, especially if it was written by someone who has something to gain by manipulating your emotions.
reporters write stories. Those stories are judged on "traction" - how much interaction and general "buzz" they get. The more views, comments, shares, likes, etc, that a story gets, the better the journalist has done their job. Truth doesn't come into it. The best stories are the most controversial ones, because people share them more.
the paper gets paid for adverts and subscriptions. Adverts are viewed when people read stories. The stories that get the most views are controversial ones that people share.
All stories are passed through an editorial process. That process does things like correct typos and grammar mistakes, but it also edits for "punchiness" and potential engagement. It's very common for a "boring" story to get edited (or the journalist told to re-edit) to make it more interesting, more controversial, more engaging.
So by taking a fairly banal story of Jack Ma saying some obvious things, and editing it so that it appears that he's saying some outrageous things, the journalist gets the buzz they need, and the newspaper gets a bunch of "free" advert views when people share the story on social media.
No-one's lying - Jack Ma did say those things. The journalists involved can maintain a straight face while saying they're just reporting the truth. Meanwhile, everyone gets paid and they get another day in a very, very threatened industry. Jack Ma's pissed off, of course, but he's a billionaire, he can cope.
I mean I guess if I saw some proof of these claims I might change my mind, but at the moment it seems totally naive.
edit: Here's an article that discusses it (for the moment I'll just assume their anonymous sources are correct which is a bit ridiculous to assume coming from a rival news source):
> There's nothing wrong with a news story moving the market: It means a story is important.
I think this is really the key. Bloomberg's news is financial in nature. Basically any big story will have a market effect. So basically in this instance "moving the market" might just be equivalent to "being a big story". So if it's bad to give bonuses based upon market-moving stories, it's bad to give bonuses on big stories.
Regardless the whole thing side-steps the important question anyway. Are the articles they post actually true? That's the only thing people should concern themselves with.
They just know people will feel compelled to read their publications if they're consistently affecting the market.
Others reports this:
“No one likes working at a company that forces you to do ‘996’. Not only is it inhumane, it’s unhealthy and even more unsustainable for long periods – plus workers, relatives and the law do not approve of it,” he said. “In the long term, even if you pay a higher salary, employees will all leave.”
>“If you find a job you like, the 996 problem does not exist; if you’re not passionate about it, every minute of going to work is a torment,” Ma said in a post on his Weibo account on Sunday.
The point he's making is not that 996 is bad, he's saying it's bad for people who aren't passionate about what they do. It only works for people who are passionate about their jobs.
Now let's take that into consideration shall we, do you think he's saying that it's fine for you to turn up to BABA and do a 9-5 and tell your boss that you're not passionate enough to do 996? Hell No! In fact he says:
> if you’re not passionate about it, every minute of going to work is a torment
So here's the choice he's laying out - either you're passionate and you're happy to work 996 (and by corollary you need to work 996 to demonstrate your passion or commitment) or every moment is a torment and clearly you shouldn't be employed there.
So no, he's not endorsing forcing people to work 996. He's endorsing forcing people to pretend they want to work 996. Which by the way, isn't sustainable for most people no matter how passionate they are.
I think there's a lot of gray space between, that is actually fine. "I don't completely love the job, but it can be fun sometimes, and it pays the bills."
It sounds like something someone trying to manipulate you would say, if I think about it. The usual: "taking two extreme sides and creating a false dichotomy".
I’ve frequently found, personally and observing others, that productivity drops after 6h of continuous work especially if it forces you to think a lot (which is pretty much always in software - you still need to apply your brain to connect the plumbing between APIs)
Anything after 6h should either be menial work, cleanup or something else. I’ve found it is usually better to postpone any intense work to the next day. As a solo founder who tried to keep up 12h+ days, I’ve had the same amount of productivity by shutting down my day after 7h. You usually end up stretching things into hours for what would take a couple of minutes with a fresh brain.
Humans only work so many hours a day. Outlier humans who can work more won't waste their talent/superpower at an employer where their extra time isn't compensated.
Yes and no. Some might compromise the hourly rates for salary, if it comes with fringe benefits - say, having an FAANG on your resume, for example.
But I feel this is a moral issue. The thing is, the system of employment is the evolution of plain old fashioned slavery. That is where Ma is coming from. He believes that he owns those people. Class is still a very strong part of global society.
Just look at the etymology of the word 'employ'. It means using something. Earlier it came from
late 14c., implien, emplien "to enfold, enwrap, entangle"
The thing that is really tough about this is that it's a subtle form of violence as the vast majority of people (even programmers) are in fact dependant upon keeping their jobs.
So in fact the forced overtime is forced labor and is a human rights issue.
I think it's going to get worse rather than better because AI, robotics and automation in general are gradually picking up steam.
Maybe we can be optimistic though and imagine a time where using people ("employing" them) is recognized as unethical. Maybe we will have that luxury someday if we have machines that are smart and dextrous enough to replace human workers. That probably won't end class structures on it's own though.
Labeling people who demand reasonable work-life balance as "slackers" (from JD's CEO) or lazy is utterly disgusting.
I understand sometimes people might need to work a bit overtime to get things done or have on-call duties. We all do, but working 12 hours a day/6 days a week is not sustainable whatsoever. Of all these Chinese entrepreneurs, none of them mentioned even the slightest of their total rewards systems, which makes me think they are avoiding this topic on purpose and all their comments are attempts to put out fire while keeping the status quo, sneaky indeed.
To be honest, if someone I manage constantly works crazy hours with no rest for a long period of time, voluntarily or not, I won't even let him/her push any piece of code to production.
Fried brains == Disaster
Edit: had a discussion with some of my friends from China on this. One of the common arguments is "why are developers whining about work conditions while tons of other occupations such as factory/delivery workers and nurses work long hours with lower pay?"
First of all, other occupations having bad work condition does not justify the legitimacy of 996. This is yet another common logical fallacy when it comes to arguments like this. Also, how can people assume workers of other occupations are fine with endless long hours? Did anyone consider the possibility that they never had a systematic way to express their dissatisfaction and just tried going along with it for as long as possible before they were burnt out and got replaced?
We don't have much time on this planet. Why should he expect others to be droning slaves for him? People should enjoy what little life they have, not spend most of their time as cogs in a machine.
You have production access to the company’s most important relationships. If you’re falling asleep in meetings or just unable to exercise emotional intelligence, that seems pretty bad for the company.
EDIT: falling asleep in meetings is bad, not good.
It's fine in as much as it's your gig, it's on you to decide what is right or not. If you believe that working extreme hours at the cost of your own wellbeing and rational performance will end up being a benefit to you in the long run then it's "fine" for you to make that choice and you either reap the benefits of suffer the consequences and hopefully learn from it.
It's not fine to project your notion of drive and passion onto people who are employees and expect them to match your personal standards when the potential rewards are magnitudes different.
If not, why is it okay to come to work drunk-with-fatigue?
It's just how easy the choice is that defines how good our conditions are.
> I'm sure that they do in the overwhelming majority of successful startups
You would need to back up this statement with evidence and show positive correlation between longer work hours and success of startups.
I don't care what I sound like to someone who develops software and pretends to be some sort of financial expert.
> someone who develops software and pretends to be some sort of financial expert
Your assumption is baseless and does not help your argument. Commenting on HN does not mean someone develops software for a living. HN is open for everyone.
You don't even understand that I can read all your comments on HN, as well as your profile, where you claim to be doing exactly that.
You're just wasting time and space with your insults and rhetoric.
I engage in arguments but where do you see insults?
I know very well you can read comments and profiles. I've had an HN account since 2011 and it gave me enough time to become well versed in finance. Plus I call myself software engineer because I work in quantitative finance and software engineering is big part of it. I'm also a CFA charterholder and not putting it on my HN profile doesn't make me less versed in finance.
It's ok if you don't want to engage in arguments, but don't assume you know someone by simply skimming through their HN profiles.
I worked 96 hours a week for eight weeks finishing off my dissertation. I finished it, but basically went crazy - I needed some time off, which was good because I crossed the line. Startups used to be like that I suppose, but now it takes far longer to cross the line to an exit than it used to, are you making the best use of the human capital you are deploying?
What does that have to do with anything? 60 hours is 50% more than 40 hours, it's regulation and not science and it's a totally different job with different risks.
> are you making the best use of the human capital you are deploying?
If they are working 40 hours or less, the answer is "no" with 100% certainty. Above that, it depends.
On the other hand are you sure that you are reasoning correctly? Have any of the companies that you have worked with failed because the founders have worked too little?
What was the least working that you saw? What was the outcome and the driver there?
So what is your conclusion from this? That 60 hours are too much? Or is it OK to work 60 hours (i.e. more than 40)? Why bring it up if your example basically confirms that my expectations aren't unreasonable?
> Have any of the companies that you have worked with failed because the founders have worked too little?
Yes. And I know a couple more.
> What was the least working that you saw? What was the outcome and the driver there?
15-30 hours/week. No product after a few financing rounds. Lack of grit. Also, very poor decisions.
Oh crumbs - sounds like a disaster! Why were you invested? Didn't the managing board raise some red flags and seek liquidation early?
There is a difference between regularly working 50-hour weeks and setting those up well, and always working 72-hour weeks, which doesn’t leave you time to do the life-admin, exercise, cooking, and sleep you need to keep a clear head.
With that said, it doesn't mean they are not getting plenty of sleep. What it means is that when they are not sleeping, they are probably working. At the gym, they are probably thinking about work. At social events, they are probably thinking about work. Etc... It's just the nature of getting a company off the ground.
What if everyone who does it will become millionaires?
What if everyone who does it understands the tradeoffs involved and makes an informed decision that you disagree with?
I guess the unsupported claim that they're "ill-compensated" out of the blue was what annoyed me.
That's well above the average annual salary in China, but it's about average for a software developer, and no one is going going to become a millionaire working for those wages.
Also long hours are normal in China. If your choice is to work for one of 50 companies that all have insane schedules, it's hardly informed consent.
If long hours is the industry standard, to me that is exactly informed consent. I mean, no one will be surprised by the standard workplace arrangement.
>If long hours is the industry standard, to me that is exactly informed consent. I mean, no one will be surprised by the standard workplace arrangement.
That's not what informed consent means--informed consent has to be voluntary or it's not consent. If 72 hour weeks are standard and your choice is long hours or being unemployed, it's not informed consent.
The logical conclusion to this argument is that there is literally no limit on how bad you make your working conditions so long as everyone else is doing it. A century ago it was common to pay employees in company scrip and to not pay them enough to live so that they ended up permanently indebted to the company. It was the standard work environment in many places so by your argument all the employees freely consented to it.
I agree that "informed consent has to be voluntary or it's not consent".
But this is absurd: "If 72 hour weeks are standard and your choice is long hours or being unemployed, it's not informed consent."
Note that you can replace "72 hour weeks" with "40 hour weeks" or "10 hour work weeks" without changing the argument. I'm guessing your silent assumption is that anything worse than your current middle class American expectations are by definition inhumane. This implies that poor people across the world can't consent to anything.
To me, as long as you can freely walk away from something, you are there by consent. No other definition makes logical sense.
>This implies that poor people across the world can't consent to anything.
In many situations they can't. When the power differential between 2 people is too great, there can be no consent. If the president asks an intern to sleep with him and he tells her she is free to walk away with no repercussion, there's still an element of coercion to the proposal.
>To me, as long as you can freely walk away from something, you are there by consent. No other definition makes logical sense.
How far does this belief go? If you come across a dying man in the desert and offer to sell him water in exchange for everything he owns, I'd say that's obviously not a consensual agreement. Despite the fact that he can freely walk away from it.
Plus for many people, at certain stage, family/relationship/life/health becomes much more important than making millions.
The Longer The Shifts For Hospital Nurses, The Higher The Levels Of Burnout And Patient Dissatisfaction
Nurses seek to reduce long hours and fatigue
January 31, 2012 — State laws against mandatory overtime hours for nurses are effective, researchers reported in an article published online August 29, 2011, in Nursing Outlook.
"Nurses routinely work long shifts, often as long as 12 hours straight," said Carol Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor at the School of Nursing, University at Buffalo, New York, in a news release. "These laws were intended to prevent hospitals from piling mandatory overtime on top of such shifts, a practice that research shows can increase the likelihood of mistakes."
Treatment of medical staff, mainly doctors is pretty ridiculous compared to easy life we (most of us) have in IT. What I mean by example - the by far the biggest employer - university hospital is forcing employers overtime, nightshifts which are properly debilitating, and not 1, but easily 4-5 in a row. At the end of such a row, the doctor feels drunk and sluggish when discussed with.
Which 3rd world country do you think I discuss? One of the biggest hospitals in Switzerland.
I have tons of stories from friends of us - like cantonal hospital in Bern, where chef of whole department set up the badge-sharing system that forced his doctors to share badges over weekend with others who didn't work,so they could do more overtime (unpaid of course) because the Swiss laws prohibited them from doing so, and entrance badge system was programmed accordingly). You don't want to participate, good bye (also to your career in whole country). 2018 story.
My advice - stay healthy, just don't go to hospital unless you have to. At the end, just drop dead.
with researchers likening the performance of someone awake for at least 17 hours to that of a drunk person.
those who worked shifts 12.5 hours or longer were three times more likely than others to make an error in patient care.
From your comment:
The natives in Africa put a stop to the Ebola epidemic with a few policies to limit the spread. For starters:
1. If you got sick, they quarantined you. You were not to leave your hut. They would leave food on your doorstep. If three days of food piled up, they burned the hut to the ground without going inside to check if you were really dead or not.
2. They told their people "Don't go to the white man's hospital." Because you would show up with something fixable, like a broken leg, and die of Ebola contracted at the hospital.
They also put up road blocks to control who could come into their territory. There may be a few other things I'm not remembering.
I have a serious medical condition. I haven't seen a doctor in years. When I was seeing a doctor for it, the waiting room was always full of sick people and it was one of the more hazardous things I did. I sometimes spoke with people online who told stories that (for example) their kid with the same condition as me had picked up MRSA in their last hospital stay.
We need some better models. The current system seems inherently flawed in important ways.
They do work much longer hour as compared to most American companies (like Google, I worked at too), even longer than the average Chinese ones. However, 9-to-9 doesn't mean people work 12 hour straight and nobody forcing anyone to stay at work until 9. Chinese work schedule includes 30 minutes to 1 hour extra napping time at noon, and Alibaba has on-campus canteens and facilities so employees go gym/game after dinner then back to work a little longer before leaving.
When I was working there I usually leave right after dinner so the actual work hour was around 8.5-9 hours a day. And our team never work on weekends (except for around 11.11 the annual shopping craze). However I do work at night and weekends at home, voluntarily.
They do pay well though.
Can you raise a child if you are away 9-9?
You wake up at 7AM, return home at 10PM, how is that even considered a life worth living?
That's just insane if you ask me.
In many countries, lunch and dinner breaks are unpaid time - in theory you are free to go home and do whatever you want. In China, noon break can be two hour long including napping. And the free dinners of IT companies are actually incentives to lure you staying longer on campus. Of course you can leave earlier or even on your own schedule if raising a child, however, for young people most prefer staying overtime enjoying free facilities companies provide them, like food and gyms they have to pay off-campus otherwise.
If you actually ask, "Who is this for then?" -- I think you'll be hard pressed not to answer "For the young, socially less inclined(men)", just like drugs are for certain demographics or polygamy is for certain demographics, teenage marriage can work for certain people and so on (sorry if my examples are too extreme).
And by accepting such horrendous work hours you are pressuring people who actually want a better work-life balance, that's why I think it's better for society in the long run to forbid such (predatory) practices.
That's just reality of life.
And if you outlawing the practice, its sucks for those people who want to prefer those you think "horrendous" work hour.
The point is not to offer a "sustainable worklife". The whole point is to chew through fresh graduates as fast as you can. They are fuel for the fire. And China has many, many hungry and young graduates.
It's kinda fair to say this out loud. People know what they are getting into. Some people actually enjoy this and thrive in such a high strain environment. The losers are the people who think they have to do this to "prove themselves" and just suffer and burn out.
Those who survive get promoted, and perpetuate the culture.
The only pathology I see is that if people think this is the only way to run a technology company and start aping the practice - which is a likely outcome.
Worth clarifying that the "slackers" comment came from JD.com's founder Richard Liu, not Jack Ma.
edit: removed comments on whether he endorses it or not since it seems like there are contradicting statements from him. My current impression is that he disagrees with forced overtime but wants his employees to work similar hours voluntarily (although I suspect this is a common sentiment among business execs).
If your boss says they want you to work overtime 'voluntarily', what do you do? Doesn't sound very voluntary, and middle managers actually doing the enforcement aren't going to treat it like that, especially when they get targets.
It has one of the biggest tech workforce in China, but they can't make Taobao frontpage work moderately well. It is almost as if they felt "giving up" on that.
Having worked with them on their DC project in 2016, I can attest that the rest of the company is not different.
They are constantly loosing managerial cadres, and almost all Alibabers I knew can attest of the company feeling "ungoverned" and "in state of Brownian motion"
Also as much employee or employers claim that they are developing and maintaining a hugely complex systems. Most of it are age old 3-tier applications. Employers can easily replace most of the grunt workers with another lot. Average employees know this and that's why they put up with these demands. It is not like companies are lining up to hire run of the mill CRUD devs in these countries. I personally know many folks once they are laid off it would take anywhere between 3-12 month to get next job.
So what remains are few exceptional developers/engineers who can negotiate better benefits and working hours independently with companies. Companies absolutely do not feel any need to extend same level of respect and perks to everyone.
When the excuse is feeble, it's because it isn't an excuse, it's just an expression of indifference
When I do concentrated programming work, I can maybe do 4 hours, at best 6 hours. It seems I can stretch it when doing more mundane work when I know what needs to be done. But this time is seriously reduced when I have to think about architecture or more complex stuff.
The literature also point into this direction, where writers and serious thinkers do these kind of few hours (also see Cal Newport on deep work).
I know John Carmack said you can be more productive when you can do more easy tasks to fill up the day, but it ends somewhere.
I have a master degree in computer science, and during the exams, my head was full at 20:00. Nothing could get in after that. I know people who could study until 3 in the morning. But you know what, after questioning them, they didn't do shit in the morning.
At work, I always had great reviews and my employers loved me (I'm almost 40 now). I always felt I was slacking off because I worked too little. But then I understood, if I work so little and get great reviews, what are those other guys doing?
So 12 hours a day? You are just lying to yourself. Those people are slacking off like crazy, and probably can't get anything done during the day. And at the end of the day, they are angry at themselves that they didn't do shit and wasted most of those 12 hours slacking off.
But I am sincerely asking to prove me wrong. Is it possible to work 12 productive hours a day? I was always searching for this how some people claim to be able to pull this off. But after investigation, they never really were able to do this.
After that they typically begin to "check on me" regularly to make sure I'm not "slacking." This would go on long-term.
I have never worked anywhere where this didn't happen.
I think it's a mistake to force people to stay in the office and work for this long. Even if it isn't 100% productive work hours, it still deprives them of opportunities to do other things with their lives such as family, hobbies and fitness activities.
It's as if he doesn't realize he's doing tangible harm to thousands of lives.
I also find it strange that someone that is currently retired at the early age of 54 can demand that other people (earning salaries) work 996. If working is so great and virtuous then why did Jack Ma retire early?
> The 7-8 hour person will create better products with fewer bugs
the 12 hour person with sufficient breaks can't do that ? whats the reasoning ?
Maybe I'll put my bed in the office, that way I can "work" the full 8 hours ;).
If owners and top executives were doing an amazing job directing the company then front line employees would not even have to work that hard because the company already has a strategic advantage.
Oh, what's that? You want to pay me the same total compensation as any other company, but make me spend twice as many hours working?
No thank you. I'll seek employment elsewhere.
That's a pretty wild assumption, especially coming from a billionaire, but I guess he needs to justify treating his employees like crap to himself somehow.
These laws don't require that anyone forced anyone to do it - the manager is literally responsible to make sure people don't work too much. Obviously this will happen occasionally anyway, but now it is at least llegal.
Yes, the richest self-made man in China will soon be lectured by a random commenter on the Internet about how he got it all wrong.
But, the Chinese govt won't ignore for long, any kind of movement which maligns the reputation of China.
Unpaid labor performing most of the factory's value-added activities, along similar lines to how the cotton was raised agriculturally on nearby plantations.
Company accountant complains about "$9,800 of total labor cost" for the year, which is about $800 more than it was the year before. "When is it going to end?" is often heard, even though the actual workers recieve no payment and never have, there is still a fundamental cost of labor even in a pure slavery situation.
Another year comes & goes, the Civil War ends, slaves are emancipated, and the factory is then required to actually divert some cash directly to the newly christened "employees" for the first time, in the form of a regular paycheck.
The accountant has never been so grumpy. "Looks like we're going to have over $15,000 in labor costs this year, thanks to the plumb fool Yankees."
And life goes on.
When is it going to end?
Anyway, I prefer to work a 12-hour day because I get more accomplished than would otherwise be accomplished over two 8-hour days. Relatively speaking, someone else's 16-hour project which
takes them two workdays and completes no sooner than 34 hours after assignment, can often be completed in only 12 hours after assignment if all energy is directed continuously until completion.
For those that do not have that much ability to focus, I understand.
It was massively effective. I wrote a ton of great code. I made enough money to quit working for several years and do a startup. When you're young, moderately fit, and ambitious you can crank out a ton of code.
However, the important point is that it was my choice to do that. You can't ignore the ethics because that's what makes it wrong - asking people to do it while (even silently) implying bad things will happen if they don't is deeply unethical.
I can happily crank out code all day if it's something I'm doing for myself. As soon as you add the employer, it immediately starts doing my head in. It's completely different work. Some employers are better than others in this regard I suppose.
If there are a lot of people in the company doing 996 every day I think they're probably spending most of their time doing mindless busywork.
It is not like you can do the same project twice, one crunching and one not and see what the results are?
In terms of health, definitely not good.
Also from economics, makes no sense if you are not a founder.
It's in fact physically sickening to subject people to this. As they are sitting 12 hours a day for 6 days a week and then probably sleeping all day on the 7th to recover.
Extreme overtime doesn't sound like a good idea. May as well hire 2 shifts of people and pay them half as much; aim for higher per-hour performance. 9-9-6 isn't going to get you very much per hour of labour time, the employees will be zombies.
4 shifts of people will get you 24 hour 7-day coverage if you want continuous production if that is what the business needs. Just hold per-hour pay as constant as possible using the reserve of willing workers as leverage.
Sooner or later, this mentality will bite back. Smart people cannot be manufactured en masse like plastic.
This is where communism breaks down. The only way to make it work in an economic sense is to turn it into a soulless corporate dystopia. Absent the incentive to work for personal gain, everyone must be motivated to work for the glory of the country through near constant propaganda.
Poor performance becomes a sign of anti-government sentiment. Thus, finding a new job after getting fired is extremely difficult, regardless of skill or desire to hire, because such governments go to great effort to blackball anyone who steps out of line, for fear of protest or dissent.
The USSR did indeed make great advances in technology and had a functioning economy, but at the despair and large-scale death of its people.
Without objective measurement of work nobody gave a fuck about own productivity — a thing that Jiang Zemin's China stomped out.
China's tech industry is still waiting for the same happening to it. A lot of it still functions like a cargo cult.
Holy cow! People went ballistic when Elon said in his post that the employees should hold up for the sake of the company.
There are attempts to innovate. But I think all the 996 and censorship and other policies to make the populace compliant is working against true innovation.
They can take an existing idea and execute with great efficiency. High speed trains, subways, electric vehicles. They are good at mixing ideas from both Western countries and Japan/Korea and other parts of the world. I like that part a lot. But original, novel ideas that will actually work? Not really. The culture there is not structured to promote/refine good ideas.
No-one's putting a gun to my head to work these hours. I think awareness of the issue is great as it appears more or less systemic in China to work long hours.
> No-one's putting a gun to my head to work these hours.
That's true, and so you can stop doing it or change what you're doing on your off time whenever you like and have no ill consequence for it. For these workers, they don't have that option. Either be at the keyboard, dedicated to the employer, for the requisite time or be fired.
We see a lesser version of this in the US IT industry a lot. People are nominally employed for 40 hours per week but management only puts a priority or good focus on the people who do the "above and beyond." Sure, you might officially only be paid for 40 hours most of the time (special circumstances excepted), but when management only gives raises and promotions to the people who are consistently e-mailing at 9:30 at night and slinging code on Sunday, the real rules stand out very quickly.
But it shouldn't be surprising, since his company is so used to milking the "millions" of sellers.
Camera captured video: https://www.bilibili.com/video/av49491980/
Amazon also treats its employees like shit but at least their products are usable.
And this is why I got disillusioned with the "you should be passionate about your work" mantra. Capitalist companies exploits it for the own benefit.
Does HN need this sort of traffic and comments? I think not. Please don't post/upvote dubious Bloomberg clickbait.