However, in practice it meant I could come in sometime between 10am and 1pm and then work late into the night. It did not mean I could start at 6am and then leave at 2pm. Anyone leaving before 6pm would get suspicious looks, no matter when they came in. Thus, it made no sense to ever show up before 10. It would be interesting to learn when the 7am workers mentioned in the article leave.
I think a couple of things help the culture of this at GitHub - one being that all of the directors keep wildly different hours, which I think is a helpful example. Not only do I generally leave around 4, I try to say 'later guys' to let everyone know that I am. If the bosses at your job are working 8-6 then that tends to trickle down. If they set the example, then everyone else can feel comfortable in doing so as well.
If they are getting their stuff done, why does it matter how many hours they worked? If their stuff is too easy and they are finishing tasks quickly, a good lead engineer/manager will give them more work to keep the team in balance.
At Highgroove, we're a ROWE -- a Results Only Work Environment. We have no hours, and our vacation policy is two words: "Be Reasonable."
This is actually a lot harder than having hours, because we have to define what the results are, together (and top-down for some). For githubbers, those results might be tangible things like: "Release 3 new Features a Week." or "Blog once a day."
Without those tangible results (instead of just tracking hours), you risk the sludge from others who are able to get more work done in less time -- and alleviate the worry that even good workers have: "Am I working hard enough?"
Good stuff! I'd be curious to hear how those "managers" you allude to are handling the "flexibility" you guys have in your next articles.
If you hire a contractor, you're paying for the accomplishment of a task. If you hire someone full-time, you're paying for... what? Not X hours, maybe, but not "whatever you feel like doing," either. Something more like "your best efforts in a reasonable work week."
If you hire a contractor to accomplish X task for $Y, you don't care if it takes them 2 hours or 50, as long as they meet their deadline.
If you hire a full-time developer and that person accomplishes in 3 hours a week what others do in 40, you'd be impressed. But you'd probably also be frustrated. Imagine what they could be doing for you if they worked the rest of the week!
Even if you're not a stickler about hours, you want people to be giving you their best effort. If they say they can do that in 5 intense, randomly-scheduled hours a day, and they deliver, great. But if they work 5 hours a week, it's unlikely they're giving you their best.
If the employee feels underpaid, they should renegotiate or, failing that, leave.
Why would that be a problem, as long as what they feel they're being paid for matches their actual productive output?
> If the employee feels underpaid, they should renegotiate or, failing that, leave.
The situation you talk about does not necessarily mean they're underpaid. If they do the job they're paid for in half a week, why could they not have all their afternoons with their children, or working at the gym, or going to the beach? Or have 4.5 days weekends? Working 60, 70 or 80 hours a week is not a goal in and of itself, and money is not necessarily the main sticking point and the only valuable result of a job, and if you feel they don't work enough you should renegotiate.
My point is not "it is not OK for someone to work 5 hours a week." If both employer and employee agree to that, it's fine.
The point is, if you hire someone full-time for $X, you probably expect something like 40 hours a week out of them. If they just stop showing up 4 days of the week without talking to you, it's the same as if they somehow managed to withdraw 5 times their salary from your bank account without talking to you.
Then you'll get 40 hours of physical presence instead. I'm sure that'll go well.
> If they just stop showing up 4 days of the week without talking to you, it's the same as if they somehow managed to withdraw 5 times their salary from your bank account without talking to you.
No it's not, as long as they're doing the job they're supposed to do in full. That's like saying the guy who runs a 100m in 8s is a thief, and should run the whole 10s. It's retarded.
If someone provides the work you expect, despite actually sleeping 4/5ths of the time, you're getting what you paid for. That they could have provided five times more work is irrelevant.
The only exception is where the employee's presence, and presence of mind, is the product. Such as with a security guard, retail sales rep, manager, etc.
Anyway I think that in a interface where there is less than complete communication renegotiation often happens in terms of readjusting deliverables.
In terms of productivity, hours are indeed bullshit. Hours don't mean productivity or anything like that. Some days I can get stuff done in one hour which could take two in my low days.
I will tell you that hours are not meaningless though. In some instances, they're not bullshit. The hours I work, for example, often determines the hours I sleep at night. This isn't because I'm actively reducing the amount hours I sleep but because I just can't sleep knowing that I face any work not completed during the day plus another pile of work tomorrow.
This isn't a rant against my job, I love my job, but it just isn't practical to just work when I feel like I'm good enough to work. I have an employer who'll strictly forbid such things and, in all honesty, I can see where he's coming from: I share an office with other employees who require a rigid structure and definite times - waltzing in at 3pm would be quite unfair in their eyes and would cause undue headache.
I can only count on 0500-0800 or so and weekends as productive time every day. Given that I foolishly am living in Oakland for the summer, and working mainly in MV and SF, I've got an hour commute, and lots of customer, partner, investor, etc. things from ~0900 to ~2130 on various days. If you prefer working in 3-4h unbroken blocks, good luck! Most days there is another block sometime during the day, but it's really easy to have a day where there are meetings or other events every couple hours, so you can spend an entire day working on this kind of stuff.
Hence, why it is really useful for a startup to have multiple founders.
Ultimately it should lead to more hours of work, with
those hours being even more productive. Working weekends
blur into working nights into working weekdays, since
none of the work feels like work.
At least in the context of moving pig iron slabs, he observed that highly-qualified (for the job) and better-paid workers produced better results working fewer hours than less qualified workers working longer hours.
This point is perhaps better paraphrased as "better management, better workers, fewer hours, and higher pay produce measurable improvements in output."
A great example of this is where he employed a foreman for the sole purpose of enforcing rest periods. Forcing the workers to rest for 56% of the day - resulting in a 4x increase of output.
BTW, I recommend Robert Kanigel's biography of Taylor, The One Best Way. It gives a pretty balanced account.
When I was young, I essentially had 2 jobs at one place. There were the billing hours that kept us in business and the after-hours stuff were I really learned stuff. I was single and I spent many hours arguing/practicing/learning from my peers. This was not like the situation described at github. If I consider the billing hours and the other stuff, I generally worked more than 40 hours. But the "other stuff" was fun, it was me geeking out. When I was not on assignment I did more of the "other stuff."
Right now I have a bit of flexibility. I don't force myself to work at a particular time, I find I do much better work if I do so when I feel like doing it. I still have several jobs. I have my full-time job, where I have to work hours. While I'm compensated like I'm full time, I am not 100% scheduled. This gives me time to write, work on the side, watch topgear.
That is an interesting challenge. How can a consulting company that bills by the hour not force a schedule? It turns out if you are a body shop, you've unnecessarily coupled your organization to the implementation of the customer. While that may be common, that doesn't make the "right" or "best", it's just the shit companies do.
I hope you guys manage to find the right size that lets you keep this culture. If you just try to do good stuff and enjoy yourself that's great. If someone wants to sell the company or make lots of $$, woe be it to the employee.
Congratulations on having a great environment.
He (and we're almost always talking about 'he' in this culture) will never have the <i>chance</i> to shine; innovation can't fit into a structure as tight as the one he has to operate within. And since there are often (read "always, barring the occasional miracle") communication issues that impede shared understanding, even the non-innovative work generally has to be done several times before it's usable.
But since those tend to be the places where labour costs are lowest, they get more work than they can handle from the guys like an ex-boss of mine, whose desk sign read "We will pay any price to cut costs." Ultimately, the price his company paid is called "bankruptcy".
TIME + PHYSICAL PRESENCE != RESULTS
And yes, they do in fact agree with masklinn's comment that if someone can finish their job in a few hours instead of 40, that the person is perfectly free to take the rest of the time to do other (non-work) things. The job of management is to come up with tasks that are important to the business, and that justify the person's continuing to work there (aka results).
As for the "sucking", they go into it in detail in the book, but I also like Paul Graham's "You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss".
Hmm. That probably seems like a suck-up, I just realized I am posting on HN. :)
Also, everyone is smart. No one is assuming number of commits is a correlation to productivity. Some days sitting at home thinking about a problem is productive.
I personally work more productive hours in a week at GitHub than I ever did at a company where I was in the office 10 hours a day. But no one is counting them.
Now, it is easy to abuse, but everyone knows who is abusing it because the results of that person are not much. When not being in the office, it compounds that impression even more because others are working hard and notice when Bob is not around for a whole week and comes back with no commits.
I have also found out that I am more productive when working from home and in the very early morning (3am - 8am). Combining the two increases my productivity even more.
And how do you motivate collaboration?
I'm much more a fan of "core hours": i.e. a company that says everyone should plan to be available between, say, 12 - 2pm either in person or online. Then everyone can set their own hours around that.
If they can't figure out that they have to meet together at some point early in the process, then I'd say you have a bigger issue.
The need to define core hours feels like a band-aid to a bigger issue.
If your workers are too big of cowards to negotiate among themselves when they need to meet to get things done, then you have bigger problems.
For the most part people are working on things they're excited about, so everyone wants to ship as quickly as possible.
While we have fun, goof off, and can work whenever we want, we're all professional and respect each other. If I am blocking someone I am not going to take the day off.