Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Burnout is an inevitable consequence of the modern workplace for a lot of people. A lot of those who don't have any problem with burnout are the ones burning out other people.

In the modern workplace, workers are often given a task without being given the good conditions to take it through, or a good overview of the context that the task is part of.

A good percentage of the tasks but not all are hot potatoes, and it can get very political (in some places this is worst than others, but its always there).

You get to the office in the morning and have new 10 trouble tickets assigned to you, with estimations of 2 or 3h of execution time over which you have no control, estimated by a clueless middle manager who has never coded the simplest of programs in his/her life.

If you make too many waves or comments about the length of the tasks, you are not going to last long and you know it, so what do you do?

Stay late, take shorter breaks, connect one hour in the evening to get a couple more things done or do some preparation work like analysis, reading documentation, answer emails, etc.

If you don't do that, you know that it's a fast track to performance improvement program which is essentially a death sentence.

I think the problem is the system and not people, the current employer/employee social contract is needing a huge rehaul because society is coming to a breaking point which all these jobs disappearing due to automation and informatisation in general.




Pretty much, the answer to this kind of thing is unions. The employer is going to feel free to treat you like a replaceable cog to be run over speed until the teeth strip - unless enough people like you can coordinate, to force them to the negotiating table. And unless you vote for politicians who will have your back.


Yes, I think unions under some form are sorely needed for this profession, as well as a recognized ethics code, like it happens in professions like medicine or accounting.

If we are going to be treated as factory workers, we should defend ourselves as factory workers by creating unions.

Unfortunately, due to the volatility of tech skills and the overuse of one-month contracts, I don't see this happening anytime soon, but I agree it's the only solution.


More guilds than unions, but yes.


more guilds than builds?


> A lot of those who don't have any problem with burnout are the ones burning out other people.

Totally, totally this.

To make an analogy, many companies seem to be run by a crazy crossfit overtainer dragging everyone else into workouts that are like the Bataan Death March.


> Burnout is an inevitable consequence of the modern workplace for a lot of people

I agree 100%

For me, I found two workable solutions.

1. Get to work at 6am and get a ton done before 8am, or stay after 6pm and get a ton done. I basically write off the hours of 8am-5pm, knowing I'll achieve essentially zero due to meetings, interruptions, 'urgent' emails, etc.

2. Get to work at a normal time, put my stuff on my desk, reply to a couple of emails so people know I'm around, then I take my laptop and sit in a local coffee shop with headphones on. I can get actually 6 hours of work done in an 6 hour stretch. I'm not far away from the office if I must attend an 'emergency' meeting, but I'm not at my desk getting interrupted every 13 minutes.

Usually the success of the second one depends on if your manager respects you actually getting work done.


You overlooked solution a solution

3. Reduce the amount of work to be done. (Probably by more than half.)

Since when was taking what amounts to a six hour exam every single day acceptable?


Unless you have the short sleep gene, it's going to be hard to be at the office at 6 AM. This means you wake up at minimum 5 AM probably earlier and would have to be sleeping at 9 PM to get 8 hours sleep, which means being in bed at 8 PM, not doable with kids.

Also, you will have the tendency, no matter how early you start, to always leave late anyway, at least that's what happened to me so I would end up getting in slightly later.

As for option 2, it's really not an option for the majority of companies. The things you need to work are on the internal LAN, you have a desktop and not a laptop, etc.

The constant interruptions either in person, by email or chat in the open space prevent from getting anything done, I used to stay later and have my most productive hours late in the evening.

Still, there was occasionally some colleague that would also stay late due to having to catch a bus or a plane and would chat all the time.

It was doable, but I always felt I was constantly living on the edge, always scrambling to get things finished in the last day of the dealine, thinking what I'm going to say on the status meeting that immediately interrupts the work at the beginning of the morning, etc.

The only thing surprising to me in these working conditions is how there are not MORE people burning out, I suspect it happens to a lot of people at least once, and then they learn to recognize the signs and leave the company before things get to that point.

But I don't think it's about taking more yoga classes, meditating or whatever, it's the working conditions and not the people.

People are getting grinded like beef chuck by these companies, these working conditions are literally taking years out of peoples lives, and no one calls out these companies by the harm that they cause to society.

Also, a lot of the work people are so busy with is completely unnecessary and people know it. Several times I was scrambling for deadline after deadline doing super "urgent" stuff, and one day I left and I literally wasn't even replaced!


I arrived at work at msft nearly every day by 730 for the first five years. By the end of year six I was puking in the garage thrice weekly at 9 am due to years of chronic stress, lack of sleep, and caffeine use. It’s taken me about a year, lots of medication, and CBT to get back to being able to sleep regularly for over 6 hours.


> a clueless middle manager who has never coded the simplest of programs in his/her life.

I've never had manager who hasn't coded ever in his life. WhatI had most of the time was a manager who hasn't coded in a longtime.


I've had both, and I don't know what is worst to tell you the truth. The ones who have coded a long time ago think that their experience in another language/ecosystem still allows them to estimate tasks in a completely different environment, when in fact it doesn't.

The non-technical manager will focus more on the business side and will be easier to manage in many situations, but the problem is that that type fo manager will neglect tasks that are purely linked to technical debt, refactoring etc that don't add new functionality to the system but are still really important.


I've had both as well as in my opinion the worst: The manager who pretends they can code and knows just enough to be able to trick HR and other managers.

It's only happened to me once, but the guy was pretending to be a past Java expert and didn't know the difference between Java and Javascript. I don't mean we grilled him on the differences in syntax. I mean in conversation he would use "java-script" to mean a Java source file, and said he had experience with Java frameworks like jQuery and Angular. Don't know how he expected to fool any developers, but he actually kept the job longer than I expected, even with people calling him out as fake.


Every job in corporate land has the person, at every level, who makes you ask "how is this person still here?"


I had a manager with a PhD who insisted on never writing multi-threaded applications because when he tried he failed and considered them dangerous. I routinely wrote apps using 10,000+ threads before. Now he is a head of development of some company. Real life is a comedy.


Just create child processes with a shared memory region. That's not multi-threading.


Hah, I've used the forking server approach very successfully before.

Plus, threads and processes are essentially the same on unix land – kernel flags will control behavior like shared memory. Which you can still setup manually. Or just use whatever IPC fancies you.


Technically correct is the best kind of correct ;-)


> I routinely wrote apps using 10,000+ threads before.

Running on how many CPU cores? Were you writing code for a supercomputing cluster? Otherwise for what kind of system could 10,000 threads possibly be an ok strategy?


Bunch of natively 256-thread CPUs, distributed enterprise messaging system (TIBCO-style) in Java (before NIO). It was normal to have 60,000 threads/machine, just debugging was a bit weird. Whole London, Frankfurt and NYC trading was running on the same or similar systems.

Can't wait for 64-core Threadripper to have something similar at home in a little box ;-)


It can work because when sleeping the only cost is literally the size of the stack (that you can set to a low value).


> never writing multi-threaded applications

Did he suggest an alternative ?


Outside of "use something that is not multi-threaded" not.


Putt's Law: "Technology is dominated by two types of people, those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand."

Putt's Corollary: "Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion." with incompetence being "flushed out of the lower levels" of a technocratic hierarchy, ensuring that technically competent people remain directly in charge of the actual technology while those without technical competence move into management.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putt%27s_Law_and_the_Successfu...


I don't understand where this is coming from?

I've worked in the industry for 10 years and have never seen any of this, except for three people who were PIPd.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: