The catch? You gotta be good at defending the work hours you do put in.
Don’t lie, don’t make up excuses, but be prepared to say I did xyz as planned.
This will obviously not work for everybody in every profession, but it’s your life and you can try to take some of it back on your own terms. It’s easier to fly under the radar than to ask permission.
Great for them, terrible for everyone who had to work with them. When one person has significantly less availability than everyone else, the rest of the team is forced to structure their activity around catering to that person's schedule.
Superstar engineer only works a couple hours per day? Prepare to block that time off in your calendar so you can try to catch them to coordinate that work you need to do together. Rockstar coder unavailable every Friday? Better hope they're not blocking your work, otherwise you're waiting until Monday to make progress. Or more realistically, you're going to waste all Friday trying to solve something on your own that could be finished 10x faster if you could get 15 minutes of that person's time.
> Don’t lie, don’t make up excuses, but be prepared to say I did xyz as planned.
The fallacy is that for most tech jobs, that "xyz" is rarely the end of the story. Planning isn't perfect and we almost never know the complete scope of a task or project at the planning phase.
The end result is a lot of work shifted to other team members who are forced to pick up the slack simply because they're available and reliable, unlike the person who disappears every Friday or spends every afternoon at the gym.
This may work in a hypothetical workplace with perfect planning and perfectly isolated work units, but in practice it just moves the excess work burden to other teammates. You're not sticking it to the company, you're sticking it to your team.
When I transitioned to management I made a point to try to balance workload and availability across teams. It often makes more sense to let go of superstar engineers who are only available 4 out of 5 days per week and only working a few hours per day, even if their work is good in isolation.
A healthy team requires everyone to play by similar rules.
I think it's a fair trade-off. I get my work done on my schedule, then help people get there's done when they need me - even if that's not "core hours". The benefit is no one cares if I spend sometime during the day running errands, getting lunch, or exercising - as long as I can respond to them in a reasonable amount of time.
Maybe this is true in some feature factory somewhere, but every tech company I've worked with has required synchronous collaboration to get things done.
> The benefit is no one cares if I spend sometime during the day running errands, getting lunch, or exercising - as long as I can respond to them in a reasonable amount of time.
Exactly. I don't care if someone steps out to run an errand or pick the kids up from school or to hit the gym, but they need to be available with some regularity during core working hours for any collaborative work to proceed.
When one person starts taking excessive liberties with schedule flexibility, everyone else is forced to adapt their schedules to that one person. It's not good for everyone else on the team.
But the starting premise was that some people would work 5 hour days, there's plenty of overlap there. It's not much different than separate time zones, as another commenter pointed out.
Separate timezones are fine as long as there is some overlapping core hours.
If that's not possible, the work needs to be more cleanly divided across timezones.
I've had to collaborate across different timezones (as an IC). It's rough. We tried to take turns staying up late so everyone suffered equally, but it's still brutal.
The nature of engineering does not align to this. Let's imagine the future with said "rockstar":
If you give them busy work to fill the rest of the sprint they get frustrated and leave because they're doing more work than everyone else, and they probably get paid the same (most companies do not have high compensation plans that align to single team performance).
If you assign them no work and just let them coast, now they're bored and required to be somewhere, so they leave.
If you give them more work that's large projects to fill their time but don't have opportunities for promotion or leadership, they leave. The opposite can be true too, where they repeatedly get accolades and promotions, then the rest of the team gets annoyed.
You're just displacing the issue rather than fixing it.
What I'd do with rockstars is stick them on complex things that are cogs in the larger machine. Have them fully document their work, detailing things like interfaces where others will plug into their work. Then they can do whatever with their extra time and I get the longevity I need out of them.
What I'm saying is, the processes and communication on your team need to align to having someone of greater talent in the same ways that having someone of lesser talent requires the team to change to support them.
do you understand that the time spent working on something is only very weakly correlated with the quality of the deliverable?
do you understand that some people can save you months or years of work and operational pain?
do you understand that some people no matter how much they work end up creating negative value and someone has to clean up after them?
you also have a very distorted view on what a superstar is. you’re effectively substituted toxic person with high output with superstar.
“superstars” get where their input is needed and provide the input in a timely manner (most of the times even before it’s requested). superstars think about the product and the output of the team as a whole. superstars grow junior developers and instill the values that will turn them in then next gen of superstars. superstars don’t sacrifice the future because of the present. superstars despise managers with but-in-seat mentality such as yourself. you probably have never worked with a superstar or if you did you were oblivious to the value they actually created.
I think you misread. I was speaking about my experience as an employee in this situation.
When a single team mate refuses to work with everyone, you have to put in extra work to work around them. It's as simple as that.
> When I transitioned to management I made a point to try to balance workload and availability across teams. It often makes more sense to let go of superstar engineers who are only available 4 out of 5 days per week and only working a few hours per day, even if their work is good in isolation.
Rarely does something needs an answer right now. Asynchronous work? Also, of course you don’t want to encourage people that are straight up hostile, but also your expectation that I’m gonna drop everything at any point in time to answer some thing that does not matter right now is pure bs. randomization is where productivity goes to die.
Replace the superstar with someone working "normal" hours but in a time zone offset by >= 5 hours to your own. You seem to be saying that cooperation with such people cannot work. But that is simply not true, many companies do make it work.
Is it always easy? No. But it can work very well.
The key is to require some defined overlap of working hours. If that's not possible, you divide the tasks as cleanly as possible across timezones so that people in the same timezone can work together.
Trying to force teammates to work together on something in opposite timezones doesn't work unless you have very relaxed deadlines. When someone has to wait until the next day to get a response to any blocking questions, work slows to a crawl.
Sure, that's not what I'm disputing.
> When someone has to wait until the next day to get a response to any blocking questions, work slows to a crawl.
Blocking questions should be an absolute exception in any case, even if the person who can answer them is just down the hall. It's on engineering management to organize work and documentation practices so that people can find answers on their own.
This makes it so there's no incentive to finish your work quickly, because you'll just be assigned more work.
Doesn't it make more sense to give people the rest of the day off if they finish their work ahead of schedule?
You'll have more satisfied employees and less burnout.
One more note: the best developers on my team look for more work when they have finished their tasks. They are focused on the success of the overall team.
Seemed to work great. The early birds would come in early, people with kids could take off early, the night owls could come in a little later, and everyone had some blocked off time to get some focused, individual work done without meetings.
I can spend a day fixing other people's problems and my output looks poor. But if I weren't there things would get stuck.
I could reduce my hours official and getting the percentage amount less.
I try to reach 40h.
I cat follow your argument? Should u just start stealing because no one is controlling me?
There should always be something to clean up, automate, make nicer or learning about something business relate (can be Technologie).
We have headcounts or we had no more budget for one person more. So I would prefer this headcount to be filled with someone good and working 40h because if you work 20 I could try to get someone else additional doing the other 20.
Is is so much different in all other companies or why is this brought up so often?
Sadly, for most people in the world, the future of work is more likely to be 9-9-6. Clock in at 9am, leave at 9pm. Repeat 6 days a week, for the rest of your life until you can't work and no social safety net other than your family. This is what your overlords want.
I’m not saying it shouldn’t be a goal to have no/one income households; sounds great for QOL, but let’s not ignore the bulk of history & humanity.
Today, we've got machines to do the dishes and the laundry, refrigeration, and foreign slaves / wage-slaves to make our clothes and crops. Homemaking is less labor intensive today, and what could be more leisure time has been replaced with two-income houses.
And, for example, my great grandma was both a housewife and she had a job at a sweatshop. The single-income household wasn't really an option for the poor in the 40s, and I suspect that it's only been broadly available to the upper class.
The point is that they didn't need to trade their labor for money, and now they do.
Some women of the time had a choice: to enrol in a relationship with a man and toil for his household, or to toil for a paltry income; many needed to do both. Skydiving and stamp collecting were only options for the independently wealthy
They need to do this because the house that was affordable on one salary in the 80s now requires 2 salaries and childcare
Not everyone is like that, but I had to explain why we didn’t have childcare costs when we took a mortgage put last week (I work as in the original point - I work from home, I take the kids to school for 0830 and pick them up at 1530, in between I do things like the dishwasher (while boiling the kettle or making lunch) and do what I deem enough hours to fulfil the goals of my department.
Even if retail or whatnot, having an identity outside of the home to give you self worth isn’t exactly unique to C-level execs. I think it’s quite patronizing to assume that’s the only route to self-actualization.
The larger point being that 2 parents working to cover child care costs seems impractical from a viewpoint that looks at that net, but that would exclude the fact that many people define identity, societal productivity, fulfillment and even enjoyment from their jobs outside the home.
It’s also means that you can continue advancing in your career so that when you don’t need full time child care you’re in a stronger position. Many women who leave work for years to parent have a very hard time getting hired.
Going into management and other paper pushing is pointless work sure, but many careers are very valuable and build upon skills and experience in that job with profession in that job as much as you want.
You are assuming the US had a choice in whether its population has to start working in the latter part of XX century.
Single breadwinner thing, along with cheap quality housing for everyone, highway build up and other projects of massive scale of that era were mainly possible because every other relevant player in world economy was still rebuilding from losing most of its population and/or infrastructure, transitioning through a huge political shift, or Argentina.
It was never sustainable in the long run.
Once those resources ran out economy had to transition back to what is natural for it - everyone contributing.
"Bosses are acting like the pandemic never happened"
The sad fact of the matter is that most of the people who run things really don't give a shit about their workers, as long as they get rich.
Which is why I'm constantly amazed at there being any worker protections and limited working hours at all. Laws like that are the only thing that gives me any glimmer of hope at all.
 - https://www.vox.com/22455058/jobs-restaurants-office-employe...
TikTok has a 996 culture and is killing Facebook.
The only way out of this is through automation or potentially economic protectionism.
The inevitable fate of TikTok is to become more like FB than different, assuming that they are successful, because of the business model commonalities.
Because of, or despite?
Good to see a healthy dose of reality.
(sometimes I wonder what their background is, It looks like it's a bunch where their parents were from a poor socio-economic backgrounds, so that in their view when both couples are working for 40 hrs a week and paying off a mortgage is seen as 'progress' )
(my last startup venture was in this space)
I agree, the best ways to do that include providing universal healthcare and basic income to all citizens, which would separate "work" from "survival". That's the only way I see to create a truly fair marketplace for work.
ubi would do something similar. it could never be big enough to change systemic issues, so would result in a funneling of the distributed wealth back to the capital holders, with no structural change other than inflation and rents going up.
so there’s no magic bullet. we need to make thousands of policy changes, all aimed at making markets fair and competitive foremost.
While it's easy to say "I could work 50% less time and accomplish just as much", actually doing that in a sustainable way (e.g. without shifting mindless busywork onto other people) is a hard problem.
It's a bit like all these people talking about government waste. Yes, we know there is government waste. But that doesn't mean we know how to make the government more efficient in a sustainable way. This is because the government is also a big bureaucracy, and making these structures efficient is something that we don't know how to do very well. People tend to carve out their own little empires, they sabotage each other, they create their own view of the world which differs from the view of the world of someone one level up or down, and then they spend effort on things not really explainable to those outside their view of the world, and often those efforts don't make much sense to people outside that specific bubble.
What this means as that as we continue to get more bureaucratic, the situation will only get worse, not better. We will be able to accomplish less and less real work in the same unit of time. You can see this now with irreality everywhere. It's infuriating, but unclear on what to do about it. It's bubble-within-bubble with so much effort expended at completely irrelevant things to anyone outside the concern-bubble.
That is why people end up working crazy long hours in the economy as a whole just to keep things going, and telling people to "work less" is a bit like treating the government waste problem by cutting all budgets by 10%. All that happens is that work piles up and the organization as a whole becomes less efficient over the long term.
Of course, in a competitive economy with property rights, it's impossible that we all only work a couple hours a week. If you say "I'll only work 20 hours a week, but I still want a salary that completely supports my lifestyle", chances are someone else is willing to work 40 - 60 hours a week to get ahead.
These utopian seeking articles that give zero analysis to basic economics, nevermind basic human nature, are just daydreams.
We have the former. We've had it for 50 years. The only problem is the latter: We have allowed the people at the very top to take all the extra gains from the productivity increases since about 1970.
Changing the system to prevent that level of blatant skimming off the top, and ensure that the benefits of the economy are shared equitably, is what we as a society need to be working on right now.
But that said:
1. In a competitive economy, that can never be handled by a company-by-company basis (except for companies that have huge monopolistic moats, hence all the perks at the large tech companies), as other companies will be willing to work more and take more business. So it would have to be handled at a government/societal level, and this article talks nothing about that.
2. In a competitive global economy, it can be extremely difficult for one country to provide tons of worker protections and benefits if other countries are willing to forgo those benefits to get ahead. Indeed, that has happened in many Western European countries: if you have a job, especially a government or trade-protected job, you're sitting pretty. However, many of these countries have had to deal with overall lower growth which has resulted in staggering youth unemployment.
That skimming off the top is via ownership of shares. I wish we had a culture that rather than savings, we invested. If the masses did that there'd be much less cause to complain and more right for ordinary people to vote on company board members that promote better values.
I forget the exact numbers right now, but a depressingly large percentage of Americans today literally do not make enough money to be able to save anything. These are not problems that can be solved by market solutions. We cannot fix inequality that dwarfs that of the Gilded Age by encouraging people living paycheck to paycheck to buy stock so they can have the privilege of a single vote out of millions on whether Rich White Guy A or Rich White Guy B gets to be on the board.
I hope you enjoy your retirement.
jobs and what you are payed are in no way related to the value you produce. if anything, you should be payed more.
a 10 hour work week is doable but will never happen because capitalism and controlling the masses of people.
what do you think people would do if all of a sudden they had to work 20 hours instead of 40? people with free time are one of the most dangerous things to the “ruling” class.
re: 60hours/week. Do you really have a lifestyle at that point? Do you even have a life?
I mean, this comment basically proves my point. You appear to be saying "60 hours a week is basically inhumane", but many eager young people are willing to work far longer and harder, and, importantly, not because they are worried about starving, but specifically because they want to get ahead: think doctors (in 2003 in the US physician residents had their hours limited to just 80 hours a week - i.e. they were working far longer than that), and bankers (e.g. Goldman Sachs bankers recently asking for an 80 hour cap: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56452494).
Point being, there are plenty of people willing and desiring to work hours you consider "inhumane", and those people will certainly desire a far greater share of the "pie" than those working much less.
There's no reason this should be the case. There's no reason anyone in this country should have to worry about having a less-than-comfortable lifestyle, given how much food, energy, and various necessary and luxury products we're able to produce. It's only the case because of the massive income inequality we have today.
That is patently ridiculous if you've ever known any Goldman Sachs interns or medical residents. These folks all have plenty of much easier options for having a comfortable lifestyle, and they know it, but it would be a comfortable lifestyle with certainly less luxury and prestige than GS banker or doctor.
That is basically my whole argument, that there are a subset of people who will work super hard just because they want to be at the top of the totem pole. Arguing that these type A folks think that working 80-100 hour weeks is "their only shot at a comfortable lifestyle" is laughable.
gonna ask again: at this point do you have a life?
From The American Challenge by Jean Jacques Servan-Schreiber published in 1967.
I won't discount personality differences but I've certainly seen it enough in others that I figure there is some sort of mental limit.
A lot of discussion on automation is on removing the tedious, basic stuff so we can focus on the more difficult mental tasks. I do wonder though if perhaps we won't get as big a benefit as we think just due our nature.
Is this gonna be the future of work for construction? For fast food? Store clerks? Will this 20h/wk schedule pay enough to support them and their spouse and a kid or two?
I am betting the answer is “no” and that this future is only coming to Forbes’ target market, or some subset thereof.
Edit: got it to load on the other tablet, the first sentence says this is only talking about white-collar workers, so... nope!
 Strongly WRT rent of real estate, weakly WRT all economic rent: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_rent
On the other hand, who wouldn't want to have shorter work days and weeks for themselves...
Than again, office work is a tiny percentage of all work. And I've spent enough time doing all kinds of stuff to notice that most office work isn't work, nor is it needed at all. I think UBI might help with that. Not necessarily though
Of course he was relatively stagnant in his position, but when we looked back on the years at his retirement, it was amazing how much travelling he did over the decades.
Ofcourse if you work where every hour counts- construction, nursing, waitressing, driving for uber- it'll be a while till people figure out they need to be paid more or work less for the same $
""" The pandemic, coupled with calls to defund the police, has left New York a little dirtier and scarier. There have been reports of questionable characters committing heinous violent acts on the streets and in the train stations."""
On the rare occasions that there isn't a teacup-hurricane blowing, doing work on a Friday is possible. Still pretty rare, just because usually all gumption has been consumed by the time I stagger into Fridays.
one could argue that a lean company may actually have lower costs and will probably have comparable output.
For people actually doing the work, or people working a job that pays hourly, I don't think a 5-hour, 4-day work week is coming any time soon. I hope I'm wrong though.
Meritocracy is unfortunately a myth at a management level. It’s hard to keep the perception of value up when you can’t show face and flex your high school skills.
This is why the 40 hour work week will not die in corporate America at least.
Yeah man downvote me as you like, but let me tell you, those of us who cannot work on what we are interested in professionally are pathetic as we don't get to fulfill our calling (regardless you believe in religion or not). And nowadays most fields, I'm sorry friends, do not need more gentlemen scientists, you have to get into the field to do useful work.
But I know a bunch of people who work 40h a week in retail and say it barely pays their rent.
I'm a contractor who has programmed for just over 30 years (20 professionally) and my current employer doesn't mind what hours I work, as long as I get my work done. They like having me onsite for reassurance, and I appreciate their positive energy since I can be hard on myself and set unrealistic expectations and take it hard when I miss the boat. So a schedule that optimizes bang for the buck and prevents work-halting burnouts could work for us.
But see, the key there is that the people I'm working with are a bit older than me and they get it. They've seen downturns but had the discipline to persevere. There's no gnashing of teeth when I explain the realities of what we're up against. We just buckle down and form a plan and do the work, whatever it takes.
In the past, I've worked for people who never noticed merit or achievement. Find a solution and pull a rabbit out of your hat one day, they want you to come into work early the next and maybe even work on the weekend. I realize now that they had personal problems that were never addressed. Maybe they were workaholics due to troubles in their home lives. Maybe they lived in areas that were too expensive for them or were in debt or just needed the money to live.
What I'm saying is that we imagine our employers to be these impeccable titans of industry, when really they're just people trying to make a way in the world too. Maybe they have someone above pressuring them to have a better month or quarter. Maybe they've never had a raise either, due to structural problems in our economy that have been reaching the boiling point over the last 40 years. They're in the midst of dysfunction just like us but have to reach even further to see a way out of it because their livelihoods depend on things outside their control, like having to rely on the people they employ. The anxiety for them must be crushing sometimes.
If we want to manifest a real change in the world like a 20 hour workweek, I think that we need to step back and see the situation from all sides and recognize that this is a local maximum. We can see how much better things are just across the way, but it feels like an impossible dream. It's a leap of faith.
To make it a reality, we need a plan. We need savings to have leverage. We need access to capital. We need connections. We need examples of where shorter hours lead to higher productivity, morale and sustainability. We need drop-in business tools that find tax advantages when 2 people work for half the hours that 1 would, which already happened in fast food and retail in their race to the bottom.
But we need to do better than them. Identify risk that leads to long hours/low wages and find concrete solutions to that risk. Provide ourselves real vision and leadership to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. Create a repeatable process that others can copy and build from.
Yes, exactly, once capitalism is abolished.