Personally, I enjoy working hard - usually more than 40 hours per week. But we should distinguish between working for others and working for oneself. Working for oneself can be education, passion work, or anything that energizes you. Working for others is also necessary for most people but reducing the weekly commitment gives people more freedom in their lives and makes them happier and more productive.
For some, the extra time away from work gives them the freedom to spend more time with their family or children, or spend more time on their hobbies. But ultimately it makes these people better contributing members of society.
One belief I certainly don’t agree with is the idea that working less for others makes you a lazy person or a less contributing member of society. People need free time to care for themselves and others, vote and participate in democracy, and do their laundry. We will be better off with less time committed to working for others.
And of course I cant help but plug 30 Hour Jobs here since it’s very much relevant: https://30hourjobs.com
I often use company time to learn about new things that are related to my work, but not necessarily immediate tasks. For example - While working on a Java app, I will spend some time learning AWS or Kotlin. Not one person in the companies I have worked for ever told me off for doing that, most in fact encouraged it. My personal diary/notes suggests I spend between 25-30 hours/week doing actual tasks or attending meetings and remaining I spend socializing at work to build relationships which will help get things done for me or learning. This of course is average over a year, some weeks are more work heavy (even stretching to more than 40 hours) and some less so.
I have come to prefer it instead of shorter work week, which means same amount of work needs to be done in less number of sleep/break cycles, reducing the quality I produce. When I worked for myself, I used to work only 3-4 days a week and observed that in theory it sounds good, but my personal experience was, I was spending far less time subconsciously and output was not inline with my usual quality.
In my experience, there is no such thing as "getting through your tasks", as you are expected to pick up more tasks from a never ending bucket of tasks . Of course this varies from place to place, but is in general true. Your peers and managers are more likely to notice you leaving early, or "not working" on the Friday, than they are to notice you working your butt off on the previous 4 days, to be honest.
 Edit: this is because of the nature of knowledge work, and the difficulty in estimating duration of work, difficulty, and quality. If you finish early, the powers that be are more likely to attribute it to bad powers of augury as opposed to extra hard work. This might sound overly negative, but I have seen this consistently throughout a few decades of experience (yet, I still work hard... go figure).
One of the most important changes for me, going from normal employment to self-employed, was no longer being paid by the hour. I don't know what it is about it but when I'm on the clock, all I can think about is the clock. I love being rewarded financially for being more efficient than expected and finishing early, and I love having the liberty to take a bit longer (and accept that it's not going to earn me more money) to get the job done right to my own satisfaction.
Also I dont spend less time at work, I just use post lunch hour, and 30-60 mins throughout the day to do learning.
I feel like as long as you prioritize your work well and you make sure to finish enough high-value tasks employers tend to not care too much about whether you actually fill up 40 hours with these tasks. Being able to use any left over time for myself also incentivizes me to stay productive so I'm pretty happy with this system.
Ultimately there is a trade-off between spending time at work and for yourself/friends/family. What the OP and other recent posts are increasingly showing is that the amount of time we really need to spend at work (perhaps especially if you are a knowledge worker) is not as much as our normal hours dictate.
Culture is a strong force.
Please stop treating them as some enlightened class. They're not.
Software engineers face the same idiocy as everyone else. Every other industry has smart, creative, individuals willing to buck the system and try new things for an edge.
If you truly believe people can't express a simple argument for trialing this sort of thing without losing their jobs maybe they should be looking for a new job because their current one sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen.
Software engineers are special in the sense that they’re expensive to replace. It costs time and effort, both of which are much more scarce than money. Businesses are also usually expanding, so there’s no shortage of openings. This gives us more freedom by definition.
However, some sectors of software engineering are much more strict. You wouldn’t take a “Just do it” attitude in aviation, for example. It’s easy to say “move to some other sector,” but eventually most devs try to build a career in one area.
All qualified and experienced people are expensive to replace.
That's not unique to software.
It is a privilege not shared by the large majority of jobs.
This is absolutely not the case.
Software Engineering has a massive IQ-based barrier to entry. Not only that, your advantages are in large part, from a purely technical perspective, are reflected in your ability to consume algorithms, techniques, and hold more variables in your head at a faster rate than others.
It's an incredibly unique union of art and engineering, we are in demand as every industry needs it, and there is a genetic bottleneck.
We suffer from massive privilege because even semi-technical people have no idea what the fuck we are doing, so oversight is limited at best.
As someone who came from being a huge overachiever in a different industry, we are insanely privileged.
Certain people do tend to have an easier time with skills that make it easier to be a developer, but there is a VAST untapped potential of people that think of our work as "coding" and assume they're unable to learn. We really need an influx of people with systems thinking and other "high-level" abilities—development skills are required, but not the deep technical abilities our field has traditionally prized.
I've worked with plenty of "genius" types who can write advanced algorithms with lightning speed, but aren't able to see their work in a larger context—nor able to explain to others what they're doing. And I've worked with "normal" people (usually with an oversized dose of Imposter Syndrome) who are so much more effective because they understand the why as well as the how, while also being better communicators.
And let's cut out the IQ bullshit until there's a proven link between IQ and ability to deliver business value.
>A growing body of research suggests general cognitive ability may be the best predictor of job performance.
I don't think there's any doubt between IQ and delivering business value. Some argue EQ is more valuable, but that doesn't mean IQ isn't important.
Even given studies that show a link, there's a big difference between requiring a minimum IQ of 85 to join the US Armed Forces (as mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Intelligence Quotient) compared to asserting a minimum IQ of 120 (or whatever) to be a software developer, as amosquito seems to be doing in their comment ("...massive IQ-based barrier to entry..."). Of course there has to be some floor of intelligence to perform the job—but I'd argue it's a lot lower than many in our field believe.
Second, a "genetic bottleneck"? That absolutely reeks of genetic elitism. It implies, rather heavily, that they are genetically superior to those who cannot (or just don't) do this work.
The idea that we are special because no one understands us - finance, biotech, pharmaceuticals... No one really gets those, either.
If you sprint continuously you will collapse from exhaustion. The clues in the name! But I doubt the Agile crowd thought it through when choosing the name.
> Gmail is often given as a shining example of the fruits of Google’s 20 percent time, its legendary policy of allowing engineers to divvy off part of their work hours for personal projects. Paul Buchheit, Gmail’s creator, disabused me of this notion. From the very beginning, “it was an official charge,” he says. “I was supposed to build an email thing.”
My last software job was supposedly 40 hours/week. I'd usually come in for two hours and leave. They wouldn't be an intense two hours either. Once in a while I'd stay all day. Based on what I hear from my friends from university, this experience is not the median but it's not uncommon either.
Many managers really don't know how to manage. Morale goes down the shitter, and unless you have children it's unlikely you'll care about getting caught.
I'm not even a hard worker but having so little to do gets old and boring quickly.
Unless you’re taking a 2 week task and estimating 2 years or something, and then just goofing off in the slack time, which I’d consider... somewhat less than ethical?
Just focus on doing what's important in a timely basis and happily deprioritize the useless stuff.
In some roles you have to fight for work because different departments are fighting for org budgets. Some places are afraid to make code changes so you go to meetings while some people signoff others raise random issues with the project. Scheduling the project takes months. Then months of finding the perfect slot to release.
I also been in places that bill every 15 minutes. All client billing time was added up and should equal 8 hours. But there were never enough hours to go around. And clients would nickel and dime over hours.
With employers I'm not sure ethical matters as long as a need is met. But be ethical to yourself. Always work hard learn and grow because the industry changes.
If the deadlines are reasonable I wouldn't care. If they aren't, it's time to start reviewing glassdoor before finding a job.
This is also by and large a mindset you foster. There are plenty of companies where you have engineers on both ends of the spectrum (both having a lot of leisure time and little).
E.g. I would be happier if I could work fully focussed for 3-4 hours and then go home, instead of working at a slow pace for 8 hours so I don't get tired after 4.
If you are keeping up with your commitments, and the company is not crashing, is morale the main problem?
Fasting won't give you mountains of physical pep. Sure, there is that golden time after you have done it for a while where you get great mental clarity and you feel good but you will not be voluntarily running laps or pushing your absolute peak weight in the gym.
That barrier is something you'll always feel, even if you're not pushing the limits. The fact of the matter is that barrier is closer when you are fasting.
Their bodies (and brains) are doing a lot more developing than just growth spurting, which is why such a teenager can eat huge portions per day and not put on any fat at all. Because their bodies use it all up, because of all the transformations and puberty things going on.
I would suggest, in that stage, just giving the body everything it craves, and worry about the benefits of fasting later.
 obviously doesn't hold in parts of the world where these are considered "normal" portions.
Instead of bitching about morale it is best to see it as an opportunity. Use time to better yourself, find new job, start your own business etc. etc.
As for how well it plays for the business owners, it is their problem, not yours.
I would call that working long, not hard. If hours determines how hard (i.e. effective) you are when working, then it certainly doesn't apply to some people I know who spend 40% of their 40 hours a week browsing Facebook.
I agree with this. When I first started my current job, overtime hours were utterly ridiculous, over the years I've managed to cut it down to mostly 8 hour days while increasing productivity fairly exponentially. A lot of time was wasted manually doing work pointless i automated as much as possible.I feel I work a lot harder now and get more done in less hours than I did before working 10-11 hour days.
The very first thing that needs to go is this glorification of working hours. Nobody should care how long you work. Time doesn't have any inherent value in a knowledge industry.
I never have that Sunday night/Monday morning feeling about work coming round too soon. I miss some meetings that are scheduled for a Monday but guess what, the world keeps turning.
"shouldn't" -- according to who?
"desired" -- by who?
"freedom" -- with regards to what exactly?
I guess ... enjoy your old age when you're unable to work but not part of any society you contributed to, I hope people will care enough to spare some "freedom byproduct" for you.
I also like to work hard but I gotta say running a side business while also working full time is getting harder the older I get. There’s really only so much you can squeeze out of a day.
This is exactly why articles about 4-day workweeks, 5-hour workdays, and the idea that productivity is inversely correlated to hours worked are so popular; Many of us are buried under expectations of around-the-clock availability and commitment to our jobs.
One of my employers made an official policy banning vacation statuses in Slack because, in their words, it implied that people were off the hook from responding to Slack messages. I was threatened with demotion for taking a 2-day weekend backpacking vacation out of cell phone range once (not an on call job). My management team just couldn't tolerate the idea that one of their employees was out of their control.
At this point, I'd gladly take strict 8-hour workdays, 5 days a week. These articles about 5-hour days or 32-hour workweeks feel like a pipedream.
My best work experience was in Germany with a strict 35 hour week. Overtime was difficult to get approved and also required 1.5x pay. You got to the office and actually worked until you went home. Nobody had time to sit in endless meetings or to be indecisive.
It was very productive and you actually had a life during the week.
I think this whole system of paying people an hourly wage or a salary is toxic when it comes to knowledge work. I'm pretty confident that today I could do something in a day that would have taken me a month when I started out 10 years ago. (And I can do stuff that would have been inconceivable when I was at the college student/new hire level) But I'm only making about 2-3x as much as a new hire at my current company.
I wish the whole system were a lot more freeform and mercenary.. I'd love to roll in and spend a few months building some GPU firmware or debugging camera latency issues, collect $100k at the end, and then spend a few months backpacking or whatever.
I guess that only a tiny fraction of the people I've met would be OK with that sort of existence, though..
If I quit, I can get a job within a month which gives the same or better pay.
From the company view, they need to spend several months trying to find a new employee, and then give full pay while that person is still learning the codebase, and other employees wast time getting him/her up to speed. It takes another few months before this person is 100% productive.
So as an employer, you are basically pulling on the shorter end of the string.
So my question: why is it so much different in the US?
I always told people that the difference between the US and Belgium is that you "live to work" in the former and "work to live" in the latter.
Belgian labor laws are much more enforced than they are in the US. The unions in Belgium have a lot of sway in big companies and employers tend to respond positively to work-life balance.
In the US, there's the expectation that if you're hired for a role, you should be able to onboard as quickly as possible. There's no 6 month trial period or even the concept of an indefinite contract (CDI in French, I forgot the acronym in Dutch) (EDIT: in the private sector).
Likewise, an American employer can get rid of an employee (and likewise hire one) in less time and with less cost than a Belgian one. That flexibility drives a lot of the business decisions in a way that would never translate in Belgium (or much of Western Europe, for that matter).
On the other hand, if you're in a situation where your employer goes over the line (like the person at the top of the thread describes), you can generally just walk away from the job. There's no 6-week notice.
There's for sure a lot more to it, but that's mainly where I see the difference between the two countries.
I think this is exactly what was meant by op. Why is there so much complaining? If it sucks, just walk away. It should even be easier in the US than in Western Europe.
Realistically, in the US so much of your financial health is tied to your employer that the advice to "just walk away" is only safe if you're already financially secure and don't need a job. Aside from the steady paycheck you're likely to lose: medical insurance, dental insurance, tax free retirement savings, and the unvested portion of your stock/retirement savings at a minimum. If you're in a position that tends to pay a yearly or even quarterly bonus, you're walking away from that too.
You're also going to lose a number of smaller items that can be expensive. Does your employer pay for the tools you use to be productive? How much does a JetBrains subscription cost these days? Or an MSDN license? How about all those AWS instances you use for sharpening your skills? Time to start ponying up or doing without.
This doesn't even count the other perks and benefits that companies are throwing at employees for highly competitive positions. Enjoying that free gym membership? Not anymore. How about the free snacks and lunches? That's another expense you can add back in now that you don't have any income. Free coffee in the break room? Time to find out just how cheap you're willing to get with your daily dose of caffeine.
Now factor in that for many being unemployed for extended periods of time can lead to severe depression and a lack of self-worth.
Don't forget to also factor in that 22% of divorces in the US are because of "money issues" which can usually be translated to "lack of money".
Taking the above into account I would likely put up with some pretty awful employment practices while looking for a new job rather than just walking away.
As well as your literal health, since your health insurance is so often tied to your employer. Extended unemployment could literally be fatal. It's a bit easier to get health insurance without a job than it used to be, but there's still a lot of overhead and hassle.
Likewise, if you quit voluntarily, you aren't entitled to unemployment right away.
But I agree, you'd most likely want to have your next job lined up before putting in your notice.
If you are a decent engineer in any tech hub like Bay Area or Seattle, you can absolutely walk out of your job and get a ton of interviews scheduled by the end of the week and have at least a few offers by the end of the following one.
And hiring is just as costly and difficult for employers as you described. A lot of times, we have to go through so many candidates just to fill one position, and it isn't just for something ultra-specialized like an AI researcher or a kernel dev, we are talking your run-off-the-mill solid software generalist. The estimates easily go to above 30 candidates interviewed per position filled.
Unemployment has never been lower in 40+ years (in the US). You're likely to get a pay bump moving. Always Be Interviewing. No one is going to look out for your comp and work/life balance except you.
It seems like the same people who complain about a lack of employer care & "greedy corporations" are also the same people counseling "always be interviewing" and the only priority is #1. It must be exhausting.
There's a crisis for six months? That's not a crisis; that's a management failure. Management should have fixed it by then. That's on them, not on me.
They want overtime every week? FORGET. THAT. NOISE.
It's sometimes unavoidable to work on weekends - e.g., a tight deadline. But I would ahead of time get the agreement in writing that the weekend work is going to be given back in time off in lieu after the deadline - otherwise, don't work weekends. there needs to be a feedback loop (via money or capacity) to management. Otherwise they'd just see amazing results, and keep wanting more. That's how you end up in a permanent crunch job.
It was avoidable, just not by you. That's not your problem though - it's your bosses' problem. Letting them make that your problem is a choice for you, but I would posit it is a poor choice.
Did you consider that perhaps the latter is caused by the former? When executives and managers, in the main, are rewarded for "optimizing" at the expense of humans, those humans are eventually going to push back.
Most jobs are wage and it's perfectly normal to be salary and non-exempt. Unless you are a founder or management if an employer is trying to classify you as exempt to avoid paying overtime they are breaking the law.
And while I haven't negotiated for it, I was paid overtime on a contract gig once. Pulled in ten thousand dollars a week. That was a wild summer.
Big difference here is quality of jobs. Lots and lots of underemployed and low quality work.
Set up a PC at home, logged into slack that keeps the status as available.
They didn't say anything about actually responding to messages, right?
Alternatively I'm sure there is a law they are breaking, so let them know about it.
But more simply - any company that comes up with such a rule has got things backwards and doesn't understand how to manage people, and probably doesn't understand tech. They probably love emergencies where "the team comes together" and hate spending extra time on ensuring quality and paying down tech debt. Leaving becomes a sensible option. They are shortsighted and I am guessing they don't make a lot of profit. Is my tea reading right?
My work phone goes into DnD from 5pm until 8am. I don't answer emails or phone calls, and I don't make exceptions for free.
If I'm on call for a weekend, I bill 16 hours, regardless of if I worked, because I cannot go anywhere if I'm needed at my laptop.
When I go on vacation, I leave my phone at home and take an sim-less android, and buy a new sim/number when I reach my destination.
Thankfully that never happened because while we were all quite respectful about each other's time due to the jurisdiction and industry we worked in none of us were eligible for OT even during stat holidays. Were that company within a more reasonable line of business I'd demand a setup like that and feel perfectly justified - and that's pretty much why I don't work in the games industry anymore.
It takes a lot of work to not work that much. I used to spend 20% of my time selling/pitching/quoting/etc for free.
Right now I have a semi-stable 30-35hr/week gig, so I'm not having to sell any.
So now I just need to keep upping my rate.
While you're employed? This is terrible advice. You get consulting money for combining expertise with availability. Younger employees have neither of these. If I found out one of my salaried employees was moonlighting I'd immediately be looking for evidence that it had the slightest impact on their responsibilities & performance. I'd be very surprised not to find any PDQ
a predictable response, but it's the wrong one which will surely lose your company plenty of money and valuable employees extremely rapidly while generating a tremendous amount of ill-will from the people in your network. really, it's the attitude that's creating the problematic and unprofitable approach here. aside from being disgustingly invasive and utterly reprehensible from a social perspective, you've also put yourself in a position where you're spending your company's time on something that will never generate it any financial returns, only more costs when the employee discovers your snooping and inevitably ditches you and you need you find a replacement on short notice.
the correct response here is to re-evaluate how much you're paying the employees that are moonlighting because it clearly isn't enough to keep them appeased, which means that by definition it isn't enough to keep them operating at 100% during the hours you expect to be getting 100% of their energy and potential for productive output. in other words, moonlighting employees need a raise because at the salary you're paying them, they know they can't afford to stop looking for more opportunities to work for pay. when you do find a reason to give that employee a raise proactively, you'll increase their output to the level you thought you were purchasing with the initial salary negotiations. you'll also increase their loyalty to the company, and avoid intruding on their private life, which is explicitly, irrevocably, and unimpeachably beyond your purview, consideration, or examination under any conditions whatsoever.
in a nutshell: focus on things you can change, then stay in your lane.
Might be true for some people, but it's not the primary motivation for freelancers. Usually it's the highly-skilled, highly-paid people who are in a position to pick up freelance work, not your lowest-paid workers at the bottom of the hierarchy. They do it not because they need the money, but because it's there for the taking and they get to work on something interesting while they do it.
With a salaried dayjob, your effective hourly rate goes down with each additional hour you work. With a freelance job, your effective income goes up with each additional hour worked.
Someone who has both types of job at the same time has an incentive to minimize their input to their dayjob so they can maximize the incremental income from their freelancing work. Sure, theoretically a perfect employee could keep their dayjob perfectly isolated from freelancing work, but in practice people with an hourly side hustle can't resist the temptation to sandbag at work.
The whole crux of the argument for shorter workdays and shorter workweeks is that people only have so many productive hours each week. Past the point of diminishing returns, their work quality and productivity drop. If someone is working 40 hour weeks, commuting, and also freelancing for another 10-30 hours per week, which job gets their best hours? Which job gets their least productive hours?
In my experience, side-hustle freelancers always let their dayjob work output slip, whether they expect to or not. This is why you need to watch employees very closely as soon as you get wind that they're freelancing.
It's absurd to expect 100% in the first place. All you should be concerned with is whether or not someone is getting their work done. Not whether they are capable of doing even more.
Do you also acknowledge the weeks their performance is better than average? Do you compensate them for it, or is it just a given?
You have the right to be concerned about someone's time but only while they are at work. Your employees get to do what they want outside of work hours.
I'd wager those X hours a week in the office are often not the most important part of your life, why should it be for them?
Every second you are employed, you should be keeping one eye on whether your current employer is about to screw you, and another eye on your exit strategy for when they inevitably do. Scan the job postings monthly. Never reject a feeler that comes through your network. No loyalty for the disloyal.
If I found out that my boss was cracking down on a co-worker for suspected moonlighting, I'd start looking for other work myself.
I've done some freelance work while also having a full-time job. It's great at first, when you still think that you can give 100% to your dayjob and fit the freelance work into your free time on evenings and weekends. If you can find relaxed contract work that fits to your schedule without detracting from your dayjob, then by all means go for it.
The problem is that contract work is rarely perfectly asynchronous like that. It won't take long until the company has some questions about your work that require a phone call during daytime hours. Or they find a one-liner issue that they need fixed ASAP, not when you have free time. Or they say they would like to continue paying you for contract work, but only if you can start responding faster during the day and turning requests around more quickly.
All of these pressures start adding up, tempting you to sandbag your salaried dayjob so you can have more hours to rake in that incremental hourly contracting money. In my case, I chose to give up contracting to avoid any moral, ethical, or legal breaches with my day job. However, I've seen many junior employees sabotage their own career progress by spreading themselves too thin with salaried work and freelancing work. Something has to give.
Worse yet, I've seen at least one case where someone used their company laptop and company phone for the contracting work for clients. Per your employment agreement, that puts the ownership of the code into a gray area. You don't want to go there, but when the clients are hammering your e-mail and phone for an answer it's tempting to just give in and interleave that work with your dayjob. Bad idea.
Finally, there's a myth that employees have a finite amount of work each week. When we do sprint planning, we calibrate to velocity, based on how much work the employee got done last week. I rely on my employees to help inform me about reasonable estimates and to help judge task complexity. Side hustlers have a misaligned incentive to exaggerate complexity, sandbag on tasks, and otherwise manipulate the system to minimize their dayjob workload. Less dayjob work equals more time for freelance income.
Bottom line: Some people can pull it off in rare circumstances, but more often than not a side hustler on your team will drag everyone down.
You don't own the lives of those you employ. While it's perfectly reasonable that if you see quality slippage you should react - actively searching for an excuse to fire someone for having a side gig is like a weird possessive and jealous relationship. Additionally, if folks at your company are picking up side gigs then maybe you should review your compensation because there's probably a reason people aren't content with their current working situation.
Not just compensation but other stuff like the ability to take on different types of projects and learn new stuff on the job.
If I have a job that has me do the same thing with the same tech stack for whoever knows how long, I'm going to grow stale. I don't want to grow stale, that's both boring and also denying myself future opportunities and generally just putting myself at a disadvantage. Possibly very screwed if/when the company decides I'm no longer needed.
If they're moonlighting, it means either you or they are missing something in your work contract, that should concern you.
You realize that moonlighting gives them skills they can use to help you.
If you were working as a painter, a carpenter, a landscaper etc. Would people find it acceptable if you painted for an hour and charged for 15 hours? Just because they needed you for one?
To be clear, I am not attempting to demonize you or anything, but to me, this seems like a sort of entitlement that tech workers have that some other workers just cannot experience.
How can other professionals obtain that level of freedom?
If a company puts a demand on your time, they need to pay for that time no matter what your profession. So when I'm on call on a weekend and I'm expected to answer my phone and be immediately available and connected to the client, I'm billing them for the fact that I cannot leave the confines of my internet.
I worked for one of the big tech vanity names held as a poster child in the AU. They started to introduce mandatory on-call, which was non-negotiable. For an extra $200 AUD (ex tax) a week, you had the privilege of sacrificing all your personal time. Carrying a laptop, having constant phone-signal, not drinking, and being completely available within 15-30 minutes of the first ping was mandatory; otherwise, you could be facing disciplinary action.
Effectively it's a huge pay cut at less than minimum wage. For the loss of personal hours, you'd get significantly more money taking any minimum wage job. I don't go to work for free, I go to pay the bills.
Then the management blackmail starts, you get free food...a deli counter and fridge of soft drinks which I never used anyway. Then you get the be a team player, take it for the team emotional blackmail.
I'd happily do on-call on a best attempt if I'm available I'll answer the call for free. Restrict my personal time/activities outside work, I want paying at least minimum wage per hour after your company just IPO'd and worth several billion.
I find it a bit despicable in the AU when owners who are the only ones to really benefit in case of success (never seen a stock option here) say we are a startup and have to make sacrifices to make it (big) etc.
First sight of trouble and your job is gone; I struggle to see the upside for anyone other than the owners.
The entire point is to not work during that time.
You should have to pay for on-call service.
When you are informally on-call you are unable to enjoy your time to the fullest, your employer is demanding a price from you without compensating you for your time, it is an obligation of yours for yourself, your friends and family and your co-workers to demand fair compensation for this time - that's a key component of labour exchange in the free market and good unions exist to help protect those rights for junior employees who tend to have less leverage when negotiating their rights than more senior folks.
It is perfectly common (and reasonable) to be expected to be compensated something for being available outside your normal hours.
E.g. many plumbers will charge you extra (or build into their fees) for a sunday emergency call, why shouldn't a developer ?
If I were in that consultants shoes I probably wouldn't propose 16 hours, but for sure I would bump my hourly rate (say 1.5x) or a min charge of 4 hours or something, if you wanted me available on say an hours notice over the weekend. If you wanted me available at the drop of a hat it would be more.
Scheduling normal work over weekends, etc. is a different issue, but being "on call" should always involve some compensation for the impact on your life.
By being in such demand that the people who want to hire you will agree to those contract terms. If you’re extremely good at what you do and what you do makes our saves people lots of money they’ll deal with your problems. At the other end if your client is willing to keep on paying ever escalating rates they can be massive unreasonable assholes and you’ll still keep on working with them because the money’s just that good.
In other words, no, it's not "reasonable" (reasonable being whatever people can agree on) for a painter or carpenter, but this is not intrinsic to the job itself. It's incidental to the accident that those jobs generally have less market power. If a carpenter did manage that, they could do it too.
Maybe we could compromise on everyone could working 38 or 36 hours a week for somewhere between 80k and 140k.
No amount of money would ever make me put up with this. I would rather work retail, because at least there I know I am not valued as an employee.
In UK you cannot force someone to work overtime more than 48 hours, averaged over 17 weeks. If they require you to be available over weekend, they would probably have to count it towards overtime.
I would find it unconscionable to be available 24/7, how are you meant to go along your daily life?
What's the purpose of that anyway, you are not working as a paramedic??
Speak truth to power when you can get away with it. And get away when you can’t.
There are good employers out there, reject the trash and advocate for your self-worth.
My theory is, if you are not desperate for money and the job market is reasonably good - go into the later interview with specific probing questions about their processes and policies. They might reject you as being "not a team player" or whatever - but if they do then its probably not where you want to work anyway.
If you experience that type of treatment in Seattle, NYC, SF, etc you should quit immediately. That is not the norm and you don't have to put up with it. For everyone else, maybe remote gigs? People are killing each other for great devs in the biggest tech markets and most companies know they have to take care of employee happiness and culture to be competitive in hiring.
Well, if that’s true, there’s only one conclusion that the abused/unappreciated can draw: they (we) must not be that great.
Well, here’s the thing about that: if I measure myself against the expectations that are being put on me, I’m orders of magnitude short. Compared to the expectations put on everybody who carries the title “programmer”, I’m not even qualified to be in the same room as one. But who’s setting those expectations? Not other programmers. Certainly not anybody who could walk over, roll up their sleeves and say, “See? Here’s how easy it is. Just do it like that next time.” No, these expectations come from “project management professionals” who cringe at the thought of typing a formula in to Excel. These expectations come from people who attended a two-week seminar on managing programmer “resources” and whose sole contribution to the practice of developing software is asking “are you done yet? Why not? Are you the one who’s stupid, or is it somebody else who’s stupid?”
> half the developers I have worked with are more capable than me
Really, though, how do you measure that? If you have the self-awareness and humility to consider that it’s possible that somebody might be better than you, you also have the introspective capability to improve - which makes you better than a lot of the people out there.
Nobody with valuable skills should put up with crap like that
But most tech companies don't need everyone 24/7. They just don't. They should condition employees to value their free time, it will pay off in a lot of ways.
Unless it's an absolute emergency I don't send emails past five. People are conditioned to respond to them. Same with slack messages. There's this belief that being available 24/7 is a positive attribute in employees and we really need to squash that. It's unhealthy for everyone.
No amount of preaching will change their minds because they simply think: I'm paying you therefore you should work for all those hours. If you work less , they feel like they are losing money, even though they get the same throughput from you.
I also think part of it about control, they want to keep a close on you, ensure you're don't have time to work on a side project or interview at a competing company .
Being _expected_ to, however, is a different story.
I also think it's crucial to never reply quickly to non-emergencies. Just creates the expectation you're available and encourage more of the same.
That is, unless it's a situation/relationship you want to foster to establish yourself in a team, outpace someone for promotion, etc.
For whatever reason, employers seem to value this for certain roles, and they often pay a premium for it. This is a Good Thing for people who value money over flexibility; why lock them out of a natural fit? Perhaps you would argue that this isn't good for them, but surely they should be free to make the choice? For those who value flexibility over money, they shouldn't take those jobs. As long as expectations are communicated, there shouldn't be a problem.
Maybe this isn't a real problem, but I want to address it just in case: I'm concerned that some people may feel entitled to a high low-flexibility salary _and_ high flexibility. This sort of entitlement comes up often, and as far as I can tell, it fundamentally ignores economic realities. In other words, if these things are compatible, then proponents need to explain themselves (and provide a lot of support for their arguments) because it's far from obvious.
Developers are not paramedics, our jobs should not require instant availability and the systems should be stable.
There is a difference between being productive and being available for random unplanned bullshit.
Even though CVs don't (at least in my country) have DoB you can infer it from years in education. You might not even get a chance for an interview to say "I never want kids, I just want to work hard".
Let's pretend all jobs are like this, where flexibility pays more, if you do ever plan on having kids, could you afford and would you be willing to take a big pay cut so you can spend time with them?
In any case, we can’t function as a society by limiting everyone’s opportunities because someone might be discriminatory. We need to address the discrimination, and we’ve made great strides as a society.
I know a number of people who have done just that - taken a big pay cut - to spend more time with kids. And why shouldn't that be the case? Less work => less pay.
Nobody has fired me for it yet because I am there when it matters, I consistently provide value, and I show up to all meetings scheduled in advance.
Just get a big ball o' FU money and let the good times roll. You're the one who decides if you need to be "always on," and guess what, you don't. The world can learn learn to wait like 30 minutes or a few hours if you're really far away from tech.
I routinely leave my place in the middle of the day to ride my bike, climb, or whatever and I have suffered minimal repercussions.
It's all in your mind
I wish someone had told me it was that easy sooner!
I have a bigass spreadsheet I use to track every last dollar, and I ruthlessly optimize everything.
Cell phone plan, down to $30/month.
Health insurance, just $300/month.
No tv. No subscriptions.
No commute. Even if I did, I own my car outright so no car payment.
No B.S. pre-packaged food. I cook pretty much everything at home. Have done so for years.
Minimal eating out, once a month or so at inexpensive restaurants.
No debt. Of any kind. So therefore no interest payments.
A few small "luxury" expenses here like a ski pass because you only live once.
All of this is completely within the realm of someone who makes $70k per year or more, the bottom rung of software development.
You should be able to hit $100K in savings in five years if you are smart with your money. Likely more if you really hustle and audit every dollar. Maybe a little less if you're supporting kids, but you can optimize how you spend your money on them too.
Hope you don't fall off the treadmill, because if you do, you'll find out there is no way back and no pity.
On top of that, I was super stubborn about always working remotely, which I got but only after rejecting one place after another. I would have kept employment easily had I just been more willing to drive into an office every day.
I happen to be young, but I work with plenty of people who are much older than me and greyer too, so I don't really buy the ageism argument. The market is hot and if you can deliver the goods, chances are you can get a job.
Demonstrating what you can do at a temporary job is a viable tactic, but it takes luck to find the right one and sacrifices if it's paying half what you're used to.
When you're just out of college, you can tell people in an interview that you've been learning a language on your own, and you've done this and that, and you're confident you can be useful. And they will hire you. That's how I got my first post bachelor's job.
But ten or twenty years down the line, you can't do that. Any job with 5-10 requirements, they aren't interested in hearing how you have been studying it at home, how you were working with something similar 6 months or 10 years ago. You have to be using all of the things on a daily basis now. And confidence you can learn any language equates to arrogance and "not a cultural fit".
You don't appreciate the difference between a college grad and someone a bit older. The issue isn't that everyone who's older insists on a senior level salary, when they don't know, say, Java or Python. The issue is that it's assumed they can't even learn anything new, regardless of experience, if they aren't doing it right now.
What I did personally was to find a job with zero technical requirements that happened to be ripe for automation, so I could do whatever I wanted in any spare moment and learn whatever I thought might be useful. But in retrospect, I think it was extreme luck that I found it, and that I was at my best for the interview. Because 99% of similar jobs are just, file stuff, answer phones, move boxes.
I won't say how much I have in savings, but your 100k in five years (20k saved a year?! SERIOUSLY?! that's more than min wage full time job, PRE TAX!) is not at ALL realistic. No I don't work a Min Wage job, but I'm not SF/Bay/SV area salary wither.
I have an emergency fund of roughly 3-6 months of necessary bills. It's not really enough to say "FU", but it's enough to give me an emotional buffer of, "I could leave if things got bad enough"
How many times have you quit without plans and gotten right back to work?
Try moving to seattle or if rain doesn't work for you, the bay area. With an income of $300k+ you could probably save that $100k amount in a few years. Don't move until you have job, that way you get a relocation benefit and that $3000/month rent won't seem that crazy to you.
Even working at a startup will pay you better than what I'm estimating you make in austin.
There's much more to my life than being a programmer, that's just what I do for work. My life does not revolve around it.
If I were to get fired for "not responding fast enough" or something like that, then I wouldn't want to work at that place anyway. I'm a programmer and I get paid to program, so that's what I do. It's worked out pretty well so far :)
Life is not grade school. You don't get points for just showing up. You actually have to do meaningful work that produces a valuable result for someone. People will happily tolerate the slightly disheveled dude who shows up with the critical component of their gold mine. They fire the smug well-spoken guy who keeps making excuses.
Do you make up that time later in the day or do you just call it a wash?
It's more like what thing can I work on such that if I were to complete it by tomorrow, people would think I was doing something amazing? If that thing takes one hour in the evening, and I have that hour free, I'll do it. If not, maybe I'll just call it a day and start on it first thing in the morning.
But it's really all about creating a perception and managing expectations, which I suspect anyone running a business does naturally