What do you do when a 11-12 hour workday is expected upon penalty of being marginalized and eventually let go? In particular, what do you do when you don't have extremely in-demand skills, and cannot readily take the gamble on being back in the market for a new job? This is a situation many of our peers are in, and it deserves attention - if for no other reason than it 1) applies to many tech jobs already and 2) will only become more of an issue if/when the current tech job market contracts.
If this unfortunate workaholic-glamorization trend continues, we are setting ourselves up for very unpleasant professional careers down the line.
You know, sometimes I'm amazed at how groups frequently take on a life of their own. I've been in this situation before, and it's almost always more complex than meets the eye. Family therapists notice that usually the person who's acting up usually isn't the person who has a problem. They call this person the identified patient. In other words, they're the ones the family has identified as being the patient. Having such a person helps create the appearance that the family doesn't have a problem.
In this case, there's usually an employee or two who are "acting out" the company's problem. You see this kind of behavior more frequently when you have someone who's more manipulative than your typical office jerk running the company. They may want their employees to work around the clock, but they don't want to get their hands dirty. So they find a way to manipulate some people within the company
to do the policing for them. This helps them to look like the good guy while others take the fall for doing their dirty work. It's generally a pretty ugly situation for all involved except for the person who's reaping its benefits.
Because working hard is just one thing. You must know what to work on. True hard work is to utilize time in hand to continually move to the next level of challenges after you are done with the current one. Once you do this you will realize that you are doing jobs that demand better productivity and quality time and not necessarily quantity of time.
It becomes a totally different story if the quality and quantity goals both merge. In such a case you are really in a different situation and I would say you are on the right path. And that is the path which leads to better life and pay.
That is totally different that the current BigCorp set ups. Tending to endless bug tickets, and minor feature enhancements will give you nothing on the longer run. This is where you gradually realize you are robbed of your soul and purpose in life in return for crazy hours and peanuts in pay. When people talk of crazy hours doing no benefit this is what they are talking about.
Not the prior one that I mentioned. In fact I would consider my self fortunate If I find my self in one such situation.
Of course, bad managers, to make themselves look good will assign 1 weeks worth of work for every hour at first. Till they all lose their jobs.
You take advantage of the fact that it's all but impossible for humans to sustain their productivity while working those kinds of hours for any length of time.
With all due respect to whoever said it first, furious activity is no substitute for keeping yourself in working order. Or something like that.
In current market economics those jobs will be moved to people who are ready to work for lesser pay. Like to china, what that means is now you get more people for same money. Therefore more hours.
Working 11-12 hours is definitely not common. Of the few people I know who do it, all do it voluntarily.
(Compute "Working and work related activities" - "Working", but that's actually an overestimate, since there are more work related activities than travel.)
How many jobs do you think are out there are are expressly limited to 40 hours a week to avoid over time? Or 20 hours a week to limit having to offer health insurance?
I'd be far more interested in an average for "professional" employment paid on salary, it would be far more telling.
Quit and work somewhere sane :)
For any suggestion that fixing something socially is equivalent to fixing it for an individual, you've got to ask yourself: what happens when everyone does it? Otherwise it's just a pleasant-sounding nostrum.
Sure, that's definitely better than working 12 hour days, but is that really the goal? It seems that most of the fun-loving and happy people I know, regardless of their financial situation, don't operate in such a world.
A good friend and startup founder (who you might think would tend towards free-market/libertarianism, since he works very hard and surely wants to be compensated for it) asks me: we can feed and clothe and house everyone, so why don't we? Why isn't work optional? People who work hard to make a dent in the universe will anyway, and people who just mess around don't really get much done at work anyway, so why keep up the charade? How many great ideas (or works of art) are stuck in somebody's brain simply because they don't know how to make that idea pay the rent?
I'm a programmer -- or at least, of all the things I've done in my life, that's the one I've been paid the most money for. But personally, I hate that it's always indoors and sedentary. It's unfortunate that society places so much value on an activity that is arguably bad for my physical and mental health. So why are virtually all programming jobs (ostensibly) full-time, i.e., 40 hours? A programmer's salary is great, but why can't I work 20 hours as a programmer, and 20 hours as a tree-planter, or teaching rock climbing to high school kids, for maybe 55% of a programmer's salary? Out of all the possible ways of dividing up my time, spending all daylight hours indoors writing code is perhaps the worst I can imagine.
I know I don't have all the answers, but I think that after a decade of work, I'm starting to know what questions to ask. If I find myself asking about "work/life balance", I've already lost, because it means I'm admitting that the "work" is something I know I won't love doing. Certainly some people have no problem breaking their day up like this, but I can't, and I suspect I'm not alone.
This is typical libertarian claptrap, from the Skilled White Male litany. The only thing of value appears to be making a dent with your special skills, and no consideration is given to the huge numbers of unskilled jobs required to keep 'the universe' running.
The point is that society supports far more shitty retail jobs than universe-denting programming jobs. Those shitty jobs need to be done, and it's hard to excel in them. What kind of dent can a convenience store clerk make? They're still necessary though - and for people in those jobs, work is not particularly fun.
In terms of your hand-wringing about full-time programming work, there are all sorts of ways you can work part-time in programming and part-time in something else. That you can't see this shows you haven't really thought about the problem seriously.
Hell, if you really are a 'denter' and have skills that are in demand, you have a good chance of simply going up to your boss and saying that you only want to work part-time now. Frequently they'll still want to keep you on for your dentable skills.
Perhaps I was understanding or explaining it poorly, but my understanding is that it's close to the opposite of the "typical libertarian claptrap", which I take to mean something close to "we need the concept of money (and a free market) to get people to work" (and consequently, if you don't work, you get no money, and therefore none of the stuff you need). The position I was talking about is very explicitly that, whether or not you work at all, you deserve food/shelter/healthcare/education/etc.
The point was not whether you can change the world with your work (I think that'd more accurately be the "G. H. Hardy claptrap"!), but why you do what you do, or not, e.g., I know someone who works in a bookstore who would be there even if salaries did not exist.
> shitty jobs need to be done
This statement has been the case for all of human history, and yet the mechanism by which these jobs manage to get done has changed rather drastically many times. Even assuming the current set of "shitty jobs" isn't changing, I see no reason the mechanism couldn't change again.
> In terms of your hand-wringing about full-time programming work, there are all sorts of ways you can work part-time in programming and part-time in something else. That you can't see this shows you haven't really thought about the problem seriously.
You are welcome to accuse me of being stupid, or to point out that these opportunities are incompatible with my other (unstated) requirements, but it's not fair to claim that I've not thought about the problem seriously.
I misread you then. What you wrote sounds like the typical libertarian spiel of 'skilled work = hard work' and if you're not skilled, then by definition you don't work hard, with the corollary that you are then not deserving of wealth or esteem.
You are welcome to accuse me of being stupid, or to point out that these opportunities are incompatible with my other (unstated) requirements, but it's not fair to claim that I've not thought about the problem seriously.
I don't think you're stupid, but I do think you're hand-wringing (that is, not serious about doing it) if you're having trouble figuring out eays of doing it.
Food, shelter, healthcare, and education are all things that require someone else to do something to provide. Why should I have to go to work to pay for your X that you think is a right so that you can sit on your couch or plant trees and be happy. That's absurd. That bread you find at Kroger, somebody had to work to make it appear in your cart.
In any community there is likely to be someone with a passion for something. Whether that something is making bread, helping the sick, or teaching children.
It's true that there are some jobs which people aren't naturally inclined to do, but in the society being described I think that communities would become smaller, and more cohesive. Some the of the jobs required to maintain a large city no longer need to be done, and those that do still need doing become less of a strain and can be distributed amongst people.
Yes. That's what we did when we lived in caves.
When man grew into civilization (neoliberals excluded), we collectively decided that people deserve food/shelter/healthcare/education. Not in every country, mind you. But then again, there are countries so backwards that they still have the death penalty...
No it isn't. That's straight-up Socialism. The phrase who you might think would tend towards free-market/libertarianism doesn't mean what you seem to think it means.
You seem to have confused libertarians with some sort of ultra-elitists, whom I don't think exist in any significant number.
Only a very small fraction of mankind is actually making a dent in the world. Are you saying that libertarians believe that only 0.01% of people are actually working hard?
Most of the libertarians I have talked with on the web are skilled white males, largely unaware/unaccepting of the advantages they've had in being able to gain the skills they do, and basically assume that if you don't have marketable skills, it's solely due to your own effort. Big subscribers to the Just World Fallacy. They offer no mechanism for either levelling the playing field nor systematic assistance for those whom catastrophe strikes. There's very much a subtext of "you only deserve to be comfortable if you're like me" in libertarianism.
Only a very small fraction of mankind is actually making a dent in the world. Are you saying that libertarians believe that only 0.01% of people are actually working hard?
I think we have very different ideas of what 'making a dent in the world' means.
I must note, however, that it's interesting you use 'mankind' - another trademark I find libertarians use frequently, hence why I specify "skilled white male" above.
Group A--believes the best way to help the poor is by allowing the free market to lift everyone, and allowing private charities to fill the void.
Group B--believes the best way to help the poor is by taking a small percentage from everyone who can afford it to guarantee basic human necessities for everyone who can't.
You can debate the effectiveness of the methods of Groups A and B all you want. And that's what you started to do, but then you went directly to questioning the motives of Group A.
Since they don't agree with your methods, you've decided that libertarians believe that the poor get what they deserve and have no interest in helping them. You've moved them from the "wrong" category to the "just plain evil" category.
If libertarians really believed that the poor get what they deserve, why would they donate to charity? If your model were correct, one would expect self-professing libertarians to donate considerably less money to charity than other idealogical groups. I can't find any statistics to back this up.
You have enough sample data to associate the word "mankind" with libertarians? Or are you more likely to take notice of the word's use when engaging with libertarians?
You're confusing libertarians with Ebenezer Scrooge.
And certainly, if you're not giving to charity now out of some sense of 'cave deservedness' like clarky07 above, then nothing will make you give continuously to people in lifelong need of financial support.
"Those who think government should do more to redistribute income are less likely to give to charitable causes, and those who believe the government has less of a role to play in income redistribution tend to give more"
Most folks I've debated who claimed to be libertarians have pretty much stated just that, and handwaved away the problem of those in need as 'supportable by private charity' (as you have suggested in A). Like I said, libertarianism provides no mechanism for levelling the playing field - those born into poverty are frequently not even aware that they can better themselves, let alone how. Libertarianism does not address this issue, instead promoting a system that sounds nice on paper, but significantly benefits those born into privilege.
The slogans of libertarianism are nice and catchy, but the devil is in the detail. If you're not skilled, white, male, and healthy, there's a good chance of falling through the cracks.
>If libertarians really believed that the poor get what they deserve, why would they donate to charity?
The one and only libertarian I've debated that did mention that they personally gave to charity did so as a boast ("I supplied two trucks full of stuff to Katrina victims", within the context of 'this is more than you gave'). No other libertarian I've talked to has mentioned giving themselves, it's always a shout-out to faceless 'private charity'. I'm not saying that libertarians don't give, but they don't seem to be great at giving positive examples of libertarian charity.
>I can't find any statistics to back this up.
Can you find any statistics to refute it? If not, you're only making half an argument. I can't find any references saying that astronauts didn't land on the sun, does that mean they did?
>You have enough sample data to associate the word "mankind" with libertarians? Or are you more likely to take notice of the word's use when engaging with libertarians?
I was raised by a feminist and have been noticing the word 'mankind' stick out like a sore thumb for over 20 years. I've only known about libertarianism as a philosophy for about 10, so it's fair to say that no, I don't just notice it more with libertarians. Libertarian dialogue is frequently sexist ('mankind' and 'rights of man' are common) and commonly makes no acknowledgement of issues that affect women (like what happens to mothers, who bear the vast brunt of the parenting load and have less opportunity to skill up).
The thing is, libertarianism promotes itself as being fair and egalitarian - if it were really about this, libertarians would self-police their own dialogue about this overtly sexist crap. They don't, and when called on it, they get defensive (as you have) and explain it away, rather than say 'my bad' and admit that they weren't being egalitarian. I personally find that this is just more support to the idea that libertarianism is really - perhaps subconsciously - about preserving existing privilege.
I don't know if you're a libertarian or not, but you are making some of the logical errors that libertarians do.
I don't buy this idea that we have to educate the poor about their options like they are primitive tribes (note the code appearing here). "They" are perfectly intelligent and aware of their options in aggregate... just give them more options and more of a safety net. Or better yet, ask them what they need...
Likewise, I doubly don't buy the idea that every use of a word containing "man" is a form of patriarchal oppression. The same as I dont view sports analogies as oppressing those who dont play, dont watch and dont like sports.
The hardest jobs in the world also happen to be the worst paying, hard work is generally for suckers. Smart work is where the money is, eventually the money works for you.
Thanks, Ty (or was it smails?).
I have often wondered about this myself. I think I could be equally productive as a programmer on 20 hours a week, since I spend a lot of time on the web and generally doing things that we programmers do when we need to give our minds a break. I really don't think anybody can actually do 40 hours of programming a week.
I'm going to lazily posit the law has something to do with it. I had my own business for a while, but never really made enough money at it (I'm a lousy entrepreneur). Even if I weren't making more money for about the same time investment, I might have fled from business ownership simply because I didn't like having nightmares that I did the taxes wrong—and I never had an employee. It's probably as hard and as expensive tax-wise to hire someone for 20 hours a week as 40 and probably a lot harder for more than 40.
Another possibility is that it's just what happens in our society.
These answers don't feel all that satisfying to me.
Now, I guess I could manage my work habits so that project takes the span of a week (not working late, not taking work home), but I haven't been able to figure out how to do that. If anyone passes by my desk on fake-work days, I look like a real slacker asshole.
Interestingly, I've never really felt the pain of not having a good REPL for java, although I often use it in other languages. Although Java isn't interpreted, unlike the other languages you mentioned, Scala is both interpreted and compiled, so it's not a great argument for why it doesn't have a good REPL. I think eclipse's very strong autocomplete somewhat obviates the need for it, because I know that I mostly depend upon bpython/ipython for the easy access to docstrings and information about arguments.
I wonder if part of the reason why I've never felt the need for a REPL in Java is simply because there isn't one built in, so it isn't a tool that I ever reach for. REPLs are great for prototyping, and for learning, but I've found that the more I learn about a language, the less I tend toward using the REPL, so perhaps it's simply that I got used to being able to edit my code instead of having to type it all in again.
As for multiple return, I've never once seen a need for it that couldn't be solved by creating ad-hoc MethodReturnValue classes that wrapped everything I wanted to return multiply.
My big problem (I came to Java after learning Haskell) is NPEs.
My company does this. Work half-time, get paid 50% of full-time programmer's salary + health insurance.
My anecdotal impression is that "productivity" is much higher than 50% of a full-time person, but everyone feels less busy, less stressed and more relaxed. Ends up being a great deal for both employer and employee I think.
Anyway, if you're a Rails dev in the Bay Area drop me a line, we're hiring.
Unfortunately I've just begun learning rails, and am not in the bay area (yet!).
You can. You need to become a contractor and only accept 20 hours of work a week.
I know that the guy that teaches yoga and step at my gym is a programmer as his "day job". That's one way to stay healthy.
There exist many people working 1,000 hours a year or less. We all know this. At some point we started believing they must not be successful members of the professional class. That is observably false.
Heck, there are people out there that haven't worked a day in their lives...
Why is 40 hours the norm? Why is working a single job all the time the norm? Why are all of your health insurance and retirement options tied to your current employer? In every case it's due to an accident of history.
Indeed. If you look outside the US you'll find many countries that aren't set up that way. It's going to be interesting to see how that effects the way jobs evolve in the future. Mine aren't in the UK for example - and I imagine that if they had it would have had quite an impact on the risk/benefit of some of my work decisions over the years.
I won't deny that it's an accident of history, but I'm not sure if it's related to the same accident of history that made single full-time jobs the norm. After all, most other countries where single full-time jobs are the norm don't have that particular problem.
If nobody actually had to work, would we really have enough people building homes, farming food, and making, and distributing food such that we could continue to feed, clothe and house everbody? I don't know what the answer is, but you must admit that there is a serious possibility that the answer is No. I agree everybody should have the right to food, clothes, and shelter, but I'm not sure that the approach of giving it to everybody for free will actually be sustainable, at least not without some additional thought into the infrastructure.
I do not believe it has ever been fully tried in practice (though a strong social safety net comes somewhat close in a piecemeal fashion). But there is no reason in principle it cannot work and some respected thinkers such as Thomas Paine have advocated it. There would be enough people motivated by a combination of the love of the job and the desire to earn more than the low-guarunteed minimum to ensure necessary societal functioned.
It may have some undesirable side effects, but in principle it could be made to work.
Edit: Slight edit for clarity.
I would gladly give up 20% of my salary to take Fridays off entirely.
I'd of course still be receiving benefits and taking up space on the mail server, and my desk would sit there unused.
This is what the German Pirate Party has in it's manifesto:
11 Right to secure livelihood and social participation
Each person has the right to a secure livelihood and social participation. Respecting and protecting human dignity is the highest commandment of the German Basic Law. People can only live in dignity if their basic needs are met and their social participation is assured. In our monetary economy, this requires an income. If an income can only be achieved through work, we must assure full employment to protect all people’s dignity. This is why full employment has been a major goal of our economic policy in the past. There are two paths by which we try to achieve this goal: Through economic measures which aim to create jobs or through publicly financed jobs with the main goal of securing people’s livelihood. These are both detours which require substantial public funding. If public funds are used, however, this must be done as efficiently as possible. Since the goal is to secure an income and a livelihood for everyone, this income should be guaranteed directly to each individual. Only this way can we protect the dignity of all people without exception. Just as we provide public security, traffic routes and large parts of the educational system without a direct compensation, a secure livelihood must also become a part of our infrastructure. We Pirates are convinced that the overwhelming majority of people will seize the chances provided by a secure livelihood to develop their full economic and social potential. A secure livelihood creates room for self-determined education, research and economic innovation. It enables volunteerism, e.g., taking care of relatives and children, independent journalism, political activity or creation of art and free software. This benefits our entire society. This is why the Pirate Party supports solutions which guarantee unconditionally a secure livelihood and social participation while sustaining and enabling economic freedom. We want to prevent poverty, not prosperity.
This gives you both incentive to take crappy, menial jobs as a technology expert (a robot could do that crap - no human should be so punished) and the most valuable thing of all - free time without worrying about income. And if you like automating human-degrading jobs, you can move up while giving people you care about the same thing.
Just an idea I'm throwing out there, it's my best answer so far for how to deal with the problem.
It's the eternal problem of Luddism (aka technology is taking away our jobs and we aren't getting better ones).
Health care is mostly not insurance, is tied to employment for a purely historical reason, and is precisely the largest issue preventing people from ditching safe but boring jobs and going after something new.
(And YC clearly understands this: look at the age of YC founders. Young, healthy, able to depend on someone else's healthcare or none at all for a year or so. Oh, and no mortgage.)
Furthermore once you or your family member develops a "preexisting medical conditions", you may not be approved next time you decide to to from corporate plan to individual. My wife was denied by one carrier for having chronic migraine for which she was taking prescription drugs and not seeing a doctor more than once a year.
With a current state of healthcare/insurance, I will only be able to leave my current employer and start a startup for as long as COBRA and CAL-COBRA allows. After that I will be forced to either join a larger company or have my family be without healthcare if a carrier decided to deny us coverage for preexisting conditions.
THIS. Although in many states there is a high risk pool that you can sign up for, when insurers deny you. I know someone who's done this in California and while there was a 6-9 month waiting list, and the coverage wasn't great, it was much much better than no coverage at all.
States with high risk pools:
The only thing that is stopping you is the risk / uncertainty of changing your situation.
One thing I've come to believe is that there is never enough time for anything. And so you have to make time.
If you're serious about adjusting your life to fit more outdoor or social interactions, there are part-time jobs and activities that can fulfill that. And there are plenty of contract jobs to fill up 20hrs a week, probably even several part-time contracts.
Nice. Pretty much how I see myself. Also, FYI. After many years in the industry I realised I was stagnating so I decided that something needed to change.
After a lot of thinking I managed to negotiate a 4 day week with my employer. I wanted an extra day to work on other projects and to learn new things. Eventually I signed up for Uni and am now working on a masters part time.
I'm thinking about pushing for a 3 day week next semester.
Just remember that anyone can do this. If you are a good worker most employers will do what they can to keep you around. More often than not, you can do in 4 days what 2 juniors can just manage in 5 (you may not realise this, I didn't).
You can. You just have to learn to negotiate.
I currently work 4 days a week, with the other day being split between helping with a youth club, and Open Source hacking, and throwing a mountain bike down hills. I had to spend more time looking when I last changed jobs, but that also ended up with me in a job that I love for other reasons as well.
You should invent a computer specifically designed to allow you to work outdoors, including while walking. I'm on that same mission for the same reasons. http://bit.ly/vergence-singularity
There are already communities where everyone has the absolute right to food, shelter, healthcare and education. Those who live there could, if they wished, devote themselves full-time to self-improvement and community work.
In reality, they're called "sink estates".
There is a shortage of programmers out there. Start negotiating with your employer or get a new job. Make that a condition.
IT IS NOT, I work as a programmer(I 'm engineer) too. You are the person responsible to be healthy, you don't have to work sitting down. You can(You should) go out every single day and exercise.
Do not blame your job,your girlfriend or your wife, your parents or society. It is your responsibility.
Don't feel that I'm trying to criticism you. On the contrary I'm taking the time to write(the only time I use for reading news I won't read today) this because I want to help you. I don't know you but I would have loved someone telling me in the past.
I could not believe the change I experienced when I started doing it myself. Believe me, there is scientific reasons for that. I read a lot of scientific papers and entire books explaining the reasons. Your veins get bigger, your brain gets more oxygen, your cells get more food and evacuate waste much much better(read about the lymph system), your sugar is used and not converted into fat, your insulin gets lower level(you feel less anxious)... there are entire books about the details, but long story short, your life improves and you feel better, you work much better.
When you work sitting down, your body remains in a passive state, it has to do with blood pressure that change a lot when you stand up(proportional to height from your toes). The body "reacts" to standing up as it is a signal to activate for daily activity.
We are made for moving a little every day, but no so much. You only need moderate exercise every single day.
You will be much more energetic, more capable, optimist, people will love to be with you... you will work without counting the time because it feels great.
It is not a single step, it takes years of continuous improvement, but it is worth it. You need to experience it yourself to believe or actually seeing other people much better than you(that is the way I changed, when I stopped being in denial seeing other people do much better than me).
What you should not do is blaming others or other things(your job) for not being healthy.
About doing 20 hours as programmer, 20 hours as a designer or teacher... well YOU CAN. Who is putting the gun in your head telling you what to do or not?. You are a grown up person, Aren't you?(maybe you are a teenager that started programming at 6, I don't know) It doesn't matter, you can do real(not reading HN or facebook) 40 hours of programming a week(I do) once you know how to manage yourself.
Read "the power of full engagement" just for starting to get it. It will take a while for you to break bad habits from years of bad training.
Another invaluable audiobook:" The Now habit"
but the first step is stop being in denial of where you are first. I expect a lot of people to downgrade this post because there is a lot of population in HN that do it wrong, that martyrise theirselves into work because they don't know how to do it better.
Maybe. But isn't it also obvious that not all jobs are the kind of jobs required for the above to be true (people, generally, do not "love" flipping burgers, for example), and that, actually, jobs you "love" are in the minority (and we absolutely need the majority jobs too).
There's nothing wrong in your job NOT being your "passion" --and that is not constrained to burger flipping but also to IT and every kind of environment. If we only insisted on people working on their "passion" we wouldn't have things like technical documentation (unless many people exist that like to devote their life to writing 500 pages of SGML for other people's programs).
Now, if I were working for someone else's startup, or working on my startup full-time, and had significant equity and working long hours had a direct correlation between my chances of becoming independently wealthy, then sure. In fact, I already work 60 or 70 (or more) hours a week, since I'm spending almost all of my night and weekend hours on Fogbeam Labs as it is.
But, yeah... unless there's a compelling reason to work long days at a job that is basically "just a salary", I refuse to do it. I don't really give a shit what my coworkers, boss, or anyone else thinks about it.
For example, game companies can lack work/life balance, even in Europe.
There are 3 devs (including me) and the other two keep putting in much more than 40 hours whereas I strive for just 40. When I first started I tried for more but then I realized that it didn't matter. There was no incentive for me. It actually made me hate the job more and more.
Call me radical (and more than a little bit reckless) but I find the appropriate response to that to be some combination of:
"Then hire more people"
Of course, I am single with no wife/kids/etc., and not a lot of responsibilities except to myself, so I can afford to be a bit cavalier. I understand that not everybody can, but in that case, I would use the situation as motivation to go with the adage "If I can't find the job I want, I'll create the job I want" and start a startup. Yeah, you wind up working even more hours then, but - at least for me - it's justified because the goal is to create a better situation for yourself in the end.
But again, I acknowledge that my path isn't for everybody and that everyone's story and constraints are different. So please don't take this response as being judgmental or anything. Just offering another perspective...
I'm planning to leave around my 1 year mark so I can find a better place to work (oh did I mention they offer 0 days off for the first year, turns out it is a much bigger deal than I thought it would be for me). So in my free time I work on my blog, post some code and keep on taking my MS classes.
This is the red flag. They may genuinely need more productivity, but any company that thinks it can get more productivity out of devs by letting them work more hours is being fundamentally mismanaged.
Long hours are virtually always a symptom something else is very wrong.
It is a red flag but unfortunately I was told this AFTER I started the job and figured I wouldn't be able to get another job since I have no dev experience and no CS degree.
Software developers working too much lead to negative returns as they add more bugs than they fix (or add features). And sleep-deprived coding has lead to more architectural "bite us in the ass" problems than any slightly faster feature output.
That's why I have a cap at ~40 hrs/week. Don't work any more or I'll get mad.
And I believe in the "Results Only Work Environment" (http://www.gorowe.com) - there is no clock; folks "working late" or "coming in early" have nowhere to hide. Only the people working at a sustainable pace and consistently delivering high-quality, working software are rewarded.
And we're hiring: http://fundinggates.com/jobs
I find it a little depressing how difficult it can be to convince folk of this though - both employers and employees.
Once team I was brought in to help was working silly hours, and I could very quickly see that it was having a terribly effect on productivity. You could just look at the stories that were being worked on at 9pm on a Friday night and guarantee that you'd be seeing them again the next week with a bug report attached.
I managed to persuade everybody to start working more sensible hours. We collected stone cold facts from the history of the number of bug reports and complaints + stories done that this was more productive on every scale. And yet..... push back from management (who were very invested in the "startup's work 60 hours a week" mindset) and some of the developers (who had become locked into "hero developer" mode).
Even ignoring the ethical argument (not saying that you should) it's just more productive to work that way.
It's been 3 startups, and 2 kids later that I realize just how wrong I was... so far no great success - but moderate success, many lessons learned and certainly people i've pushed away for truly silly reasons like perceived hours spent behind the desk or strange lines of code written... reality is I now spend fewer hours behind the desk although admittedly probably still far too many to be sane... and definitely used to (and still do) write crazy lines of code... I think it's a matter of perspective, age, prospects and who knows probably other factors that'll influence our feelings about how many hours we need to put in... after all, is it one critical bug fixed or 100s of lines of new code written which matters more - is a mater of perspective, that one bug fixed could make the difference between winning the big client or losing'em... I think "hours spent behind the desk" is a silly measure of ones productivity... a well rested mind after all makes far better decisions - that's not to say we should be lazy, but that we need balance - plan and simple.
Frankly, though, a lot of us do come into the office at 11 a.m. (or sometimes even later), and are happy with working later hours in exchange.
I live in Japan. In 99% of Japanese companies, and even most of the foreign ones, there's no such thing as flexible working hours. I'm curious to know how common it is in the US.
Work-life balance is very important as well, a point the author emphasizes. He seems to have made that choice later in life (as did I) and I commend him for it. But, while I can exhort others too to strive for such balance, I will not begrudge them the choice to work exceedingly hard (especially as they are first developing in their careers) to achieve other "unbalanced" goals. People do accomplish insanely great things by working insanely hard. If they choose to do this in their work as employees, that is their privilege and, as long as they are highly-skilled and highly compensated, I say more power to them if they do it without the benefit of protective labor laws.
Complete comment: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3642433.
as long as they are highly-skilled and highly compensated
Thankfully, my efforts were noticed despite my lack of unpaid overtime. I've been promoted twice in the past three years, added to special panels and events, and even been given assignments that just rock.
There is this stigma around working 40 hours a week, and only 40 hours, that I will never understand. If you don't need more 40 (or even less) to do your job, what does it matter? The employer is getting what they asked for, and often times more, and you're getting a paycheck. Its called ROWE: results oriented work environment. Just a shame it hasn't caught on in the US.
That's a symptom of bad management. If they assume presence == productivity, it will be just one of many flawed assumptions and bad practices that will result in a pretty lousy workplace for knowledge workers.
The 'story' is completely not what it's being made out to be.
Nowadays, I'm at a large enterprisey business and I may work 7 hours during off times. But there was a point (oddly enough right when I started) where I was putting in 10 hour days for a couple weeks. Now that I have kids, I really do want to get home before they go to bed. Also helps that I have a 7 minute commute.
As a salaried worker I was easily pulled into working late hours as it was the status quo. In essence when you are salaried, you are owned, and will be frequently asked to work late, work weekends, and work from home at night. As a contractor, you will still get asked, but only when the reward for the company is worth the cost. As a salaried worker, the only cost for the extra time is your happiness, which isn't worth as much to them as you think.
The best jobs are ones where there is no expectation of hours though. This is where you have a significant stake in the outcome, such as an early employee or as an independent project. Where you are no longer getting paid for your time, but only for results.
I do agree with the tenets of the story though. Working until 5pm should be plenty long to call it a productive day if you don't spend your time yanking off at the water cooler or gossiping with coworkers or even worse sitting in pointless meetings.
I felt so adamantly about this at one point that I wrote a series of op-eds to the New York Times trying to make the case that the single greatest way to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, lower pollution, mitigate the need for mass-transit, and increase productivity was to give tax incentives to employers who allow employees to work from home 1-2 days per week. Seems surprising to me that more focus hasn't been put on this recently. Anyhow, the stories were never run and now I'm really off topic.
I believe there was a study at Google that had similar results as what I experienced as well.
The day the free cash is handed out is the day I dish out some free time.
Promotion paths are also important -- a position or title that is externally recognized as 'achievement'. Is akin to a 'vetting/classification' that was done for your talents. VCs look at that as well as anybody else.
So to summarise,discretionary compensation and promosition creates competitive environment. That drives the stress, long hours,and success or failure within a corporate career path.
1) I haven't burned out
2) I have retained good relationships with my family and friends
3) I enjoy evenings out
Previously I worked all hours. If my partner had let me I would have brought the computer to bed and typed into the night. I burned out and jeopardised my relationship.
I get that there are times when you need to work longer. When you have a deadline or something really needs to be done. However.. if this is every day for a long period of time then you are probably doing something wrong.
You're making a living, right? So what's a few extra hours per day?
There's no point in making a living without having a life.
What I regret most about being willing to do this though is that I made life difficult for fellow engineers. Everybody who unquestioningly puts in long days makes it harder for somebody else to actually keep decent hours. (And you'll want to go there at some point - see above)
There are plenty of places that have good work hours, and most places that don't have crappy engineering practices on top of everything else. So if you want to do your future self a huge favor, don't sell yourself via "I can work insane amounts of time". What you'll get for that - if you'll get anything - is a crappy job at most likely a crappy place that you'll quickly come to hate.
Sell your skills instead. Or, if you actually love working 16-hour days, strike out on your own. At least then you're not working to line somebody else's pocket.
I've never interacted with an old and dying man or woman whom would've said anything similar.
It's worked pretty well so far.
Of course, this isn't typical, perhaps even in tech, and I feel rather fortunate to have this situation.
I've got a life, my own internal dialogue and other interests. Life's short enough as it is.
Although, weirdly, there are those in there who do even further commutes.
If it is a train or a boat, a plane, anything where you do not have to concentrate, I could see doing that, as you could do plenty of interesting things on a commute these days(ereaders, netbooks, regular books and so on).
I had a 4(2 back and 2 forth) hour daily commute for a year and it was not bad at all since I got 3 hours or reading time every day on a train and and one hour of walking(15minsx4). That actually was quite nice as it let me unwind and get into appropriate zone.
Besides there's (typically) nowhere to park. I've decided to leave in the next few weeks. Life's too precious for this sorta shit.
- Published in 1999 so I don't know how available the albums are.
- Classical is really sensitive to dynamics, and cheap car stereos suck at same. You turn up the volume to hear the quiet parts, then get blasted by the loud ones. I don't have a good car stereo, don't know how much it would help. Earphones are much better, but I don't know about driving with them.
Although I'm rural, the local amenities are actually great -- one of the reasons I'm here. We're lucky. Excellent doctors and hospitals, too.
Great neighbours who aren't weirdos, its also so quiet on a Friday and Saturday you could hear a pin drop. That might drive some people crazy but I like it.
I have a little garden which I'm making nice and a few interesting little techie projects that I want to finish (I just don't have time right now) but I will quit and then use my time rationally. Who knows where it might lead?
Partly my own fault because I chose several years ago to live in quite a rural area. Still, not worth the hassle.