Which doesn't mean you should give up. What you can do as a programmer is _negotiate_ a shorter workweek. I've done it at multiple jobs, personally.
Here's one programmer I talked who has been working 4 day a week for 15 years: https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/01/08/part-time-programmer...
And if you want to do it yourself, the easiest place to do it is at your current job: https://codewithoutrules.com/2019/01/25/4-day-workweek-easy-...
(And for those who will chime in explaining how no company will ever agree to this, here are some more examples of people who have done it: https://codewithoutrules.com/2019/05/09/part-time-software-d...)
In this new job I'm hoping to build up a negotiating position where this will be possible again, this time I think the company culture might support it.
So it very much depends on the company and you need to cement your value before you can try it so it's a high risk strategy.
And it's much easier at a job you've been at for a while, yes, because then you're much more valuable in a whole bunch of ways. It is doable at new jobs, but that is much harder the first time around.
So you have the right plan:
1. Get a job at company that isn't obsessed with long hours.
2. Stick around for a year so you're extra-valuable.
3. Negotiate shorter workweek.
You will then have easier time negotiating at later jobs, especially if you don't quit ("thanks for the offer, I'd love to come work for you. however, at current job I work 4 days a week... do you think you could match that?")
IMHO it was much easier that way than if I had first started full time. Sure, naming your terms will turn off companies that don't like people that have terms, or that absolutely want their workers to be there every day. But that might actually be a good culture filter.
Obviously it worked out for you with being upfront, so that's great. But you get more offers if you only ask for it once offer is in hand, and more offers == stronger negotiating position.
It's no more dishonest than the firm not providing their salary constraints up front before/during the interview process.
Not following through with the fully executed agreement is what would be dishonest.
It's like going through the whole interview process with a company that's clearly hiring in-office positions, and then only after getting an offer, telling them you will only work remotely. It would be different if it were really part of the negotiation - ie they're offering way less than your asking/current salary, and you're countering with part-time for that same salary (or other benefits) to compensate.
For retail transactions we have bait-and-switch laws which address the same type of issue.
Personally I'd be pissed at whoever wasted my time like that, and wouldn't hire them based on the ethics they're displaying. If they brought it up during the interview process - even as just something they're looking for - I'd respect the fact that they gave me the option of considering it as part of the evaluation, giving me the option to clarify and end the process early if it just wouldn't work for the employer.
Maybe in some other work culture you have to be sneaky if you want a part-time job. Here in Finland I'd expect at least one third of IT companies to happily allow 80% time if you just bring it up.
Pulling out the ok, I'll trade you 25% salary for 25% time at the last minute is pushing the limit.
Then again, I don't think I would personally have a problem with it so maybe you're right?
I do agree though it's a bit on the nose, the expectation is that you'll be working full time hours, not part-time.
So basically I am doing a disservice to employers if they filter me out prematurely because they don't know what I can do.
I _do_ make sure to ask about work/life balance early on, so as to prevent wasted time on both sides.
Are you classified as a part-time or full-time?
How does this affect your benefits?
Dealing with a drop in pay is one thing, but I think a lot of people are worried about how it will affect how they qualify for things like health insurance coverage, vacation time, etc.
(Some health insurance plans in fact _require_ people to be >=30 hours a week to be included on it.)
I'm mildly surprised at people's skepticism though, this has been a thing for a while.
1. Find an excuse to work from home. Sick, doctor's appointment, just say you wanna work from home, whatever.
2. On that day, get more work done than you've ever done before.
3. Do this consistently.
4. Request regular fridays off, point to your increased productivity.
5. Rinse and repeat until you're totally remote.
6. Reduce actual working hours, taking advantage of less distracting environment and more flexible hours to maintain productivity.
7. Automate wherever possible.
I really wouldn't read too much into my decade-old-take. I read the book last in 2014.
That's exactly what Tim was talking about in sections of his book, negotiating reduced hours as an employee with existing employers.
I'm not even sure "start your own business" was the main point of 4HWW, so much as it was "Work yourself less on tedium".
However: the point is to negotiate. And if you're negotiating you can also negotiate other things at the same time. Including your pay.
For my book on negotiating a shorter workweek (https://codewithoutrules.com/3dayweekend) I interviewed multiple people, and I've also heard from readers who successfully negotiated shorter workweeks, and a common theme was that they also negotiated a higher salary while they were at it. Or switched to higher paying jobs, etc.. So even with 20% reduction in pay, they still did OK.
If you're already a great negotiator you might be at top of your expected salary range—but then if you're a programmer at the top of your salary range you're probably in good shape financially to reduce your pay a little.
Even though the managers didn’t like it, they kept extending my contract until the two year maximum came up. Then I found a new employer who was eager to hire me. I told them if I could work four days a week and about 30 hours a week, I’d take the job.
He agreed and actually it’s working really well for both of us. He doesn’t actually need a huge amount of work done, I’m just working on some side projects he never has time for. The perpetual three day weekends give me a genuine sense of freedom on weekends that I haven’t felt before. Previously the two day weekend was stressful. With the three day weekend I have plenty of time for side projects (which I do constantly), and I’ve recently bought a mountain bike. Ive finally got time to do my weekend chores while still enjoying myself. And I work 10-30 hours a week in a really chill environment. All my bills are paid and I have time to live my life. I’m 34.
It’s hard to find this kind of situation, but let me assure you - it’s well worth pursuing and it’s life changing.
Also my managers at google didn’t like my 30 hour a week schedule and they didn’t want to hire me full time at the end of my contract, but they also didn’t let me go. If you want to explore this, make yourself useful and be a little pushy. It’s well worth it.
So far this has worked quite well, and the support the company has provided to me as the manager, and to the report has been excellent.
There are some tooling issues (especially around oncall) - but otherwise it has been quite a smooth transition.
Here’s some more context if you’re curious:
Just before I left, as FTE positions were being discussed on other projects (the role I was hired in disappeared after 6 months and they had moved me to something I didn’t like), I had a walk and talk with my skip level. I was told that the pay for engineers at X was partially because of the expectation of the quantity of work. My skip level told me that on previous projects they had worked 60 hour weeks, and that this kind of thing is necessary sometimes in the types of projects done at X. My other coworkers and friends at X told me 35 hours was normal for FTEs, but this manager seemed to clearly believe my 20-30 hour schedule had no place at X for an FTE.
I wasn’t necessarily ideal for that role, as again I did not even apply for the job they moved me to (something I appreciated versus termination when my original role got reorg’d away). But I never heard from anyone that something like 50% time would be possible. I think X is under a lot of headcount pressure, so my skip level was probably responding to that.
Anyway I’m not sure if that is relevant. I also had issues at ABC for the way they treated TVCs (I was one) and my new job is definitely what’s right for me. But I’d love to hear that more partial time roles are entertained at alphabet. Maybe in time it will become more common there.
Things have changed for me since then. A year ago, out of mostly good luck, I landed on a fully remote software engineer position (not having remote experience before). We don't have an overwork culture and stick to mostly 40-hour work weeks. Some days are longer and some are shorter, sure, like in most tech startups.
Ultimately, it feels like I'm saving much, much more time just by not commuting. This is not just saving the 2-3 hours per day commute (typical for SF bay area), which is huge on its own, but also a lot of little pieces of time throughout the day -- you can sneak in time to do some housework chores during idling minutes at work (unload the dishwasher when you take your coffee mug back to the kitchen!), you can make a quick lunch in ~2 minutes at home instead of having to go out (even down to the cafe to line up for free food, in the case of big cos).
The end result is that even though I still work mostly 40-hour work weeks, it feels almost like moving to part time work. The best thing about it is you still get full benefits (health insurance is expensive on your own!), and base pay is relatively decent (not as high as SF startups, but still a lot higher than part time employment). And I'm doing fulfilling work that I like, and spending my time productively, to boot.
Do you mean either 1) just heating up some left-over food, or 2) just heating up an instant meal packet of some kind?
Because otherwise I don't know how you can make a lunch in 2 minutes - only other possibility I can think of is sandwich(es) with already ready-made or already-prepared ingredients. Note: emphasis on the word "make", not "buy".
Sandwich recipe: Spread chocolate sauce on a chocolate bar. Spread chocolate frosting on another chocolate bar. Place them together, frosting against sauce, to finish the sandwich.
I cook a warm meal for dinner. Works for me.
I work from home too.
That's pretty close to the ~2min claim. Not sure that should be taken literally anyway :)
>That's pretty close to the ~2min claim. Not sure that should be taken literally anyway :)
Good point :)
1/3 cup skim milk, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup cereal in a serving bowl. Microwave until it boils, let it sit for a few minutes before eating to cool down, thicken up, and soften the oat flakes a bit more. Adjust liquid if you like it thinner or thicker. If I'm feeling decadent, I'll add a bit of butter and a little bit of brown sugar for extra tastiness. :)
It's also filling with tons of fibre so I'm not hungry again until dinner.
I did not know about hemp hearts, just googled them a bit, sounds good. I knew a bit about flax but have not eaten it much - will check that out more too.
I found my current role through a SO job posting. It was actually pretty quick.
I created this newsletter and job board because I’ve noticed a trend in companies measuring employee output with results instead of hours worked.
I strongly believe that overwork is a problem in society right now. I’m hoping to bolster the community of people that share this belief and to help solve this problem.
I should also clarify that 30 Hour Jobs is the title here but I would like to capture companies of all sorts that support a flexible work week or simply embrace work/life balance and/or reduced hours in some way.
Examples: If you sign up for 30 hours but work 50 hours, you get 75% benefits and 125% pay. If you sign up for 32 hours but work 38 hours, you get 80% benefits and 95% pay.
Too bad this "Show HN" is pretty dead at this point. :-(
Anyway, maybe you should put interviews of people who made it successfully. Surely there are some people who work 20-30 hours per week in this world and make some good money.
Please also don't hesitate to put up your openings on the job board :)
On the downside it feels I do about the same amount of work as I was doing when I worked 100%. Just less slack. But then I’m well paid for my 80% (after some raises).
The extra family and side-project time I get has been well worth it.
I honestly don't feel like I'm any less productive, my employer is getting a pretty good deal!
So this makes sense to me. And I love that the jobs I am seeing on there are remote.
However, the 30 hours thing reminds me of one issue that has occurred for me as a remote contract worker over the years which is a lack of benefits. Now, I know that supposedly everyone can just charge a ton of money and then easily cover all of their own insurance and other needs. For many people that works out. However, there is a large section of the market that, whether people want to admit it or not, does not have resources that really stretch to cover benefits with the pay that they offer.
And so these small companies hire people like me who want or need remote work, and they specifically avoid going over 30 hours so that they can get around laws related to benefits. I have had several 'contracts' like this. They were all in my opinion normal employment except that they made a weak attempt at avoiding employment laws by forbidding invoicing over 30 hours and maybe a few other things.
To be honest, I am very bad at networking and have been glad to have those opportunities. However, not having things like health insurance or a retirement fund is a pretty big issue.
I disagree. I want to work less and live more.
It feels reasonable only because we are used to it and it's a standard. I think we should start redefining what full-time means.
I'm curious how you go about finding these companies to write about. Have you already heard of them? Do they reach out? Do you have some special search terms to find them?
There are some readers of the newsletter that have shared their own employer’s work/life balance philosophies and open positions too which has been great.
I chose the latter and had the time of my life. It felt kinda like my contracting days in the sense that I had a ridiculous amount of free time, except I didn't have to chase contracts or report hours. I still got paid twice a month and kept my benefits.
Some people thought I was crazy for choosing that option, but I typically value my time more than money, and any engineer can live just fine on 50% pay.
My colleagues in Switzerland who took this path were either fathers that directed that extra day to their child, or people with a vibe for the outdoors and exploring . It gave an impression of financial stability and level-headedness in my mind. And demonstrated that these people were employable and valuable enough to contribute good value over 4 days per week.
So I think it is a good look for an employer to have these approaches in place. As downsides for the rest of us, yes meetings would sometimes need to be delayed and certain crunch periods had the awkward obstacle of a 3-day weekend for some team members, but I hope the 80% employee demonstrates flexibility to help hit deliveries when necessary.
If both are an issue, then it is a sure sign the company has other issues.
Example: https://wildbit.com/blog/2017/10/19/4-day-work-week-update (also found a job offer by this company on the board).
If my boss came to me and told me the next few weeks I had to work every day until 8pm instead of 6pm, it would obliterate my life outside work. And I'd start looking for a new job...
I've been part time for a year and a half. I realized I was earning more money than I needed and that I wanted more time to enjoy life. My employer, a FAANG company, offered a proportional cut to salary and stock grants.
Sometimes working less than five days a week can be not so much a work/life balance choice for the privileged, but a work/life necessity thrust upon you by circumstance.
So I applaud your efforts to provide more options.
I also applaud your providing RSS feeds for dinosaurs like me. I recommend adding a <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"> element to the <head> of the page to improve it's visibility.
Perhaps the issue is exempt employees? I don't see why I shouldn't be paid hourly.
I'm tempted to say I'd rather be paid per bug/feature, with the pay rate increasing based on the complexity of the bug/feature, so that when I think I have enough money I can say no to additional work without repercussions -- but workers in other industries organized against [piece work](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piece_work) for a reason.
So as an employee you want to ensure you have a hard limit on how many hours you're expected to work (40 for regular jobs, or as in this case, less than that).
It's probably misguided to aim for highly quantitative measurements. If productivity is measured as output per input, you have a lot of flexibility in how to define the relevant output - e.g. hitting well-defined product goals or milestones (versus e.g. lines of code, which seems wrong).
Basketball has had this problem for a long time. The plus/minus metric was invented as an attempt to address all the things players do while on the floor, but do not directly relate to an easy to capture metric. It also tries to address players who put their own personal productivity over that of the team.
Certainly there are people who want to work 30hrs because on balance they will be more productive per hour. Perhaps even enough to offset the overall reduction in work hours. However, there are also people who simply want to do less work. Being the job board that collects applicants who's primary variable is minimizing hours worked is not a super positive signal.
From the employer perspective many of the most important and high value jobs are more likely to be perceived as 50hr/week jobs rather than 30hr/week jobs. Not to mention that 30hrs is a common break point between fulltime and part time, with the associated legal differences in benefits and such.
Sadly a 50hr job board might be vastly more successful.
There's always a limited amount of resources (time, money, etc), regardless of how many hours are worked. So someone whose goal is minimizing hours worked will tend to come up with much better solutions than someone whose only solution is to work longer hours. Because instead of saying "I'll just work longer!" they'll actively try to come up with a fundamentally more efficient solution.
(Long version: https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/02/11/working-long-hours/)
That assumes the client is paying by the problem and not by the other. Sadly, while there is project work, every place I've worked has also had a huge emphasis on billable hours.
Lots of programming jobs aren't tied to that, though.
Among employers, maybe, but those misgivings you mentioned would apply to the employees on a 50-hr board: "there are also [companies which] simply want to [get more] work...not a super positive signal."
It can be a Monday or a Friday per month, it cannot be moved to other month and accumulated for longer vacations.
This day can be used to catch up obligations, relax or be combined with a normal vacation time to extend the off period.
1. You're underselling yourself in this page, so you might be doing that in your interviews too. E.g. "SALE! For a limited time only - 40% off!" Yes, it's a joke, but you don't want to make jokes about how you're cheap when you're looking for a job.
2. Let's say you talk to company A, they give you offer for 100% time, you say "can I have 60%?" and they say "no". Don't walk away. Instead, say "let me think about that for a week or two." Now, when the next week you get offer from company B, you can say "I have an offer from another company, but I like you more... maybe we can work something out. How about 60%?"
Having that extra offer makes you seem more valuable.
3. Don't give up. Sometime this takes a while, and if you treat this as something you're practicing, every interview you do you will help you improve.
(I also wrote a book about negotiating a 3-day weekend; 60% is harder, but it's the same basic advice: https://codewithoutrules.com/3dayweekend/)
I am curious if you experienced any of these things, how you handled them, or how you managed to avoid them.
Now, I find that the model that works better for me is to work full time, but take big (many month) breaks between projects. I would still love to work 4 days a week though, just didn't work out for me in practice.
I actually think if you work less you can and often will learn to become more productive (https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/02/11/working-long-hours/). But—a priori one would expect you to accomplish 80% of what others do, and that should be fine with a good manager.
So some ideas:
* You want to choose your day off so there isn't conflict with important meetings. If important meetings happen randomly, yes, this can be an issue.
* Become more productive. That is, produce more within the limits of your time. A lot of this is attitude—"I have limited time, how do I get this done more efficiently?" Sometimes that means spending more time planning! I talk a bit about that here: https://codewithoutrules.com/2016/08/25/the-01x-programmer/ and https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/10/10/beyond-senior-softwa... and https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/05/20/staying-focused/, in a variety of different approaches. And other articles on my site.
* Get a job someplace with good management. They do exist.
* If there's a variety of tasks, focus on ones where you can have high impact without requirement for fast turnaround. E.g. I did this at one job where there was the "we need this tool tomorrow!!!" tasks, but also the "if we don't get this algorithm working in 6 months, all this work is wasted". So I took on the algorithm, because a lot of the work was _thinking_, instead of desperately churning out code.
There are lots of smart optimizations I could use to do that (clear roles, efficient meetings, managing task intensity), but there is this general problem of who is holding the risk in the business.
If you miss a client commitment or the sales people want to blame losing a sale on someone else, the first place they are going to go is the 30hr person "not pulling their weight."
In development, I think most pro developers would be massively more productive if they didn't have to waste away in an office 8h/day. But when you get out into the field where the business is about relationships, which are in turn about perceptions and commitments, in an enterprise environment, I guarantee a customer will say, "nice product, but if you can't demonstrate your ability to get me feature X by next quarter, and this competitor can, I'm going to scuttle this deal."
The salesperson whose commission is riding on this goes back to the product manager and says, "We're going to lose this high profile deal the CEO is watching because your engineers are soft and lazy? wtf?"
The PM goes to the CTO and says, "the survival of the company depends on deals like this, I need your people to burn the midnight oil."
CTO goes to engineering manager, "so this 30hr/week person, get them full time or get them out, we can't have this liability."
Eng manager says, "but they are my best developer! This is how we attract and retain the talent that makes this possible!"
CTO says, "get it done."
Eng manager writes email and starts the manage-out paper trail to 30hr person, "as per my last request to get these items done, we need to improve your performance..."
30hr super-developer receives weirdly formal email from manager, updates linkedin, starts pinging recruiters.
I'd wager 30hr weeks are a great way for startups to get talent they couldn't otherwise afford, but it will be temporary in their growth phase, as the above scenario is inevitable once they have momentum.
Or if that is not sustainable/beneficial for other types of jobs than developer, only apply the 30h to your developer team. But do it consistent per team.
Another thought, I haven't seen this dynamic with part-time employees, so I don't think it applies to 30h employees either. Have you seen this with part-time employees?
Regarding the CTO being incompetent in the other comment, the CTO is not incompetent for delegating authority to "get it done." Their priority is delivery and positioning the company. Do they seem weak? Sure, but how much political capital should a CTO spend on a part time jr. staff member vs. the sales organization?
Might be the same case here?
You can read more about thoughtbot in issue #2: https://us19.campaign-archive.com/?u=f8a0d9af744b2eb7002632d...
Doesn't mean you actually have to offer only 30 hrs.
I also know we are very lucky to be in a position to live like that. Others just don't have the luxury and need to work more because of the money.
I honestly feel it's easier to find a regular job and work from home 1 or 2 days a week and manage your week in such a way that you perform all your tasks in 4 days.