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Poll: How do you feel about working hours?
27 points by pawn on Nov 27, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 55 comments
How do you feel about work hours? I've taken keen interest in the reactions to the Penny Arcade post and curious how most peoples' opinions are divided on the subject of hours specifically.
I work roughly 40 hours and take home a laptop just in case. No big deal. Sometimes I'll put in a lot more for special circumstances.
205 points
I work 40-45 hours, and have no problem working a little extra when needed.
118 points
I work 45+ hours because I love what I do and have little desire to do anything else.
89 points
I work my 40 hours, and I'm out the door. If you want more, hire somebody else.
55 points
I work 45+ hours because the company makes me. It sucks, but what can a person do about it?
14 points

I don't think I can really answer without checking all the boxes. Spending time working for a company is like investing. The amount I'm willing to invest is related to my expected return.

1 - When I was working for a large company (10,000+ employees) I typically was out the door at 40 hours. The company was established, my equity was nonexistent and I gain nothing for supporting their inability to plan.

2 - If I'm working for a startup I believe in and have significant equity then I'm working day and night on it.

3 - If I don't have tangible equity and I'm working for a startup or small company then I'm willing to wear multiple hats and put in additional hours. However this isn't something that I'll do for an extended period.

4 - If I'm a contractor being paid at market rate then it's however many hours you want me there. 40, 80, 120... doesn't bother me.

Great answer, that's exactly how I feel. It's all a question of expected return. With one small difference ...

I have a 3-year old son. Working day and night is always within reason for me, because no matter how much I could gain, I'll always regret the time I haven't spent with my son. Therefore I work in waves. I have weeks in which I work 14-18 hours per day, followed by weeks in which I spend more quality time with my family.

The effort also has to be rationalized. Working long hours for sustained periods leads to stress and mental exhaustion, which ultimately impacts your productivity negatively. You always have to (1) be careful and listen to your body when it shows signs that you need to rest and (2) reflect on your productivity, because it doesn't matter if you work 14-hour days if you don't get anything done. Sometimes taking a step back and relaxing for a bit does wonders for productivity.

Pretty much agreed except maybe 4. If a contract screams crazy deadlines I'm significantly bumping my rate upfront. To me extra hours have steeply increasing marginal cost which is maybe why I got a really good job so that I don't have to grab contracts.

I agree every hour over 40 to mean is more valuable to me so my 41st hour might be 1.1 times my standard rate, however my 60th hour might be 2 times my standard rate (the multipliers here mentioned are only for illustrative purposes).

It would seem strange that a company would wish to purchase more hours at an increasing rate since the quality of the output from the later hours is likely diminishing.

My thoughts exactly. Perhaps we need another poll...

You're jamming several different types of answers into single selections, then leaving gaping holes in other areas. If you want hours, just do hours. If you want sentiment, just do sentiment but you're going to need way more options. If you want to do hours and sentiment, you'd need about 25 different options just to properly cover what you're indicating here, not even counting all the holes you've left.

This. I work roughly 55 hours a week. I love my work, but I wish I didn't have to work so hard. We're constantly hiring, but always a couple hires behind the workload. Of course, it's my responsibility to oversee this process, so it's all my fault. Anyway...the ambiguity is obvious.

I love what I do, but I've been burned out. That was a terrible period in my life, and I aim to avoid that.

I completely understand you. Loving what I do, but burning out lately...

A couple of jobs ago, I probably put in on average 60 hour weeks. But 10 of those hours would be at time-and-a-half, and 10 on double or sometimes triple time. That was a fair arrangement that suited all parties. When did "overtime" become a dirty word?

The job before that, I was one rank below exec. People fought tooth and nail to avoid getting promoted, because they'd lose their overtime...

I'm a contractor (by choice) so I always laugh when they remind me "the contract stipulates that we will not pay for more than 40 hours under any circumstances" because that just means I'm done with the week by Wednesday.

I work far less than 40, make enough money to pay the bills, and wouldn't have it any other way - for now.

I work part time: 30 hours/week as three ten hour days, and I take M and F "off" (staying home with my kids). It's awesome. Plus it means I am paid hourly, so on the rare occasion where I need to come in for some extra time, I get paid for it.

I voted 40-45, without a problem working extra. I think there's a more important factor than just hours, though. I think it matters much more when those hours are.

For example, my company has a very nice policy in place that allows flexible hours. It started for just engineers (who would get more done in the middle of the night, or at home, than the rest of the organization), but quickly spread to the rest of the company.

It works like this: as long as projects are coming in on schedule and you're available for a client call during normal business hours (that is usually scheduled pretty far in advance), you can get into and leave the office whenever you want. You can also work from home whenever you want. As long as you're getting your work done and you're not out of contact completely, it's totally your call.

I work 40-60 hours depending on the week, but (most of the time) I don't feel burned out. I stay up late, sometimes working, sometimes just relaxing after a long day, and usually get into the office around 10am. I take long, luxurious lunches, during which I can walk home to cook myself something nice, or read a book for a little while.

In reality, I'm really only "flexing" about 90 minutes per day--an hour later in the morning, and an extra half-hour for lunch--but I absolutely end up working much more than that, probably many times over, each day without the burn out.

Long answer for a simple poll, but I'm passionate about this particular topic. Tech burnout is really bad, and the more ideas we can generate to combat it, the better.

I would be happy to work more than 45 hours if days were 36 hours long so I can still be with my family and prepare for the Ironman next year. :)

It fluctuates. At my current job, I've had 35-37 hours weeks and 50+ hours week. I voted for the second option, at the time of this writing:

    "I work 40-45 hours, and have no problem working a little extra when needed."
Even though it's not always a "little" extra.

I love what I do (to be more honest, I love the people I'm doing it with) so I don't count the hours (this is literally the first time in 8 months I counted).

I don't think it's an easy solution. You want employees who are willing to work extra when needed, but you want them to achieve a good work-life balance so that the rhythm is sustainable.

To be more specific about the Penny Arcade post, I don't find it as repulsive as most (vocal) people here did. Full disclaimer, I'm 26 with no kids. I enjoyed the honest tone of the offer, and I think there's a subset (a niche?) of engineers today that would be interested in working in these conditions.

Is it a place to make a career? probably not. But I wouldn't mind spending a year or two in that environment, as long as I know exactly what I'm stepping into since day 1. Being given this much work load implies a lot of responsibilities, and, in turn, lots and lots of opportunities to get better.

How would you feel about a martial artist or a musician deciding to spend a couple of years practicing their art for 12-15 hours a day?

Several have commented that I left out options for people who work a different standard of hours than 40. I'd say if you're in that boat, change the number to what you consider standard and vote accordingly.

For 9 years, I worked a job where 45 was the standard expectation. I left there a little over two months ago for the job I'm at now. I've noticed a marked change recently, though. I was under the impression that this was a place where 40 hours was standard, but I've recently received a few casual jabs for not doing more hours. I have mixed feelings about it, as I'm used to 45 hour standard weeks, but one of the selling points about this place was that I could have some of my time back.

I asked another guy what he thought about the change of atmosphere, and his opinion was that decreased productivity from the holidays could make a company owner a little fidgety, and we'll likely see him in a better mood by January.

I work all the time. I wake up, start working, eat my meals at my desk, unwind at home for an hour or two before bed while answering some emails or working on my laptop, and go to sleep. The most time I spend not working is my commute (I listen to audiobooks while driving). I spent last Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day in my lab. I have a PhD from a top school and am paid about $50000 / year because I work in Academia in a "training" (postdoc) position. The system I'm a part of is an unsustainable pyramid scheme in many ways, that I wouldn't recommend to most people, but this structural problem is hardly limited to academia. Nevertheless I'm very happy: I am intensely interested in the problem that I study (lifespan extension) and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

I can work 45+ for roughly about 3 months before I get burned out and productivity plummets. It's important that I stop and go do something else (hobbies, exercise, etc) so that I can continue being productive over the long haul. It's a shame employers often don't recognize this

I worked till 3am last night.....and no one knew about it. Most of my late nights come not from some requirement or deadline but from a PERSONAL desire to complete something. (I was working on a local configuration issue ie: it has no impact on any deliverable)

This can be a suckers game... I've been there and I understand the desire but you need to be careful to manage expectations. There will come a time when you can't or don't want to work like that, but you're trapped by your and your employers expectations.

I'm not saying don't do it, just don't do it invisibly.

Shouldn't there be at least one option for people working less than 40 hours a week?

I do about 30h of "work days" and easily more than 10h of off-hours, took me a few changes of venue to remove the requirement to be at my desk 8-9 hours a day, and I am more productive and happier.

I work 40 hours and I'm out the door. I would very much prefer to work much much less. Screw work/life balance. Work is what I have to do in order to live. I want a work/life imbalance, as heavily in favor of life as can be.

This is tricky. If I'm working full-time, depending on the compensation, specifically in terms of stock and salary, I'll optimize for 40 hours a week.

As a freelance developer, I don't care how many hours you want me to work. I get compensated for it. Though, I'll still optimize for 40 since, I don't know, I want to live my life, and I want to do a great job.

If I'm starting my own business, I'll work more.

All that said, I strongly believe in working sustainably. I'd rather have a steady rate of work, than some erratic graph with lots of spikes (followed by crashes).

Eat right, exercise, spend time with loved ones, and work hard.

I work 45+ hours, when I can, because I bill hourly and enjoy receiving money.

I am on salary, and therefore, I don't get any added benefit by working more than my 40. There are people in other departments that are blatantly taken advantage of, and wind up working 60+ consistently. I love developing software, and I even do it in my free time, but in my freelance projects, I charge by the hour. I don't do a bunch of extra work for free because I love what I do; I love what I do AND I recognize that it has value for the people I'm doing it for, and I should be compensated accordingly.

If the definition of "work hours" means actually doing work, to further a goal, you should bump the poll down to 5-10, 10-20, 30-40

I work about 45 or so, some weeks a bit less and some a bit more, but I generally have a few projects on the go at any one time. I would flat out refuse to work over 45 for a day job if they actually expected it. I love coding, but if you let an unhealthy expectation of long hours continue you'll be doing it forever and getting paid less than your salary would indicate.

I'm actually on 37 because I work in Denmark. I would probably do a bit more if I didn't have a kid to collect / feed etc.

Your poll is a little skewed. What about those who work less than 30 hours? Full time doesn't always get defined as 40 hours.

I feel you should add an option: I work 35-40 hours and have no problem working a little more when needed.

You seem to have chosen 40 and 45 as points of interest but don't allow anything less than 40 (to me, it seems you imply 40 or more hours, even with "I work roughly 40 hours").

I work along all the day. Weekend included. But I do whatever I want in the meantime, like exercises and take naps. So I don't have to stare at a screen 8 hours in a row, but I also don't care about answer some emails and do some bugfixes on sunday 2AM.

I'm really glad I got a family before I got this job (a really great job), because if it weren't for them I would certainly spend way too much time working. As it stands the demands (good demands) of family life keep my demanding work schedule in check.

I work 35 (Canada), with the occasional longer day if I'm in the middle of something at 5:15, or something blows up. If it's longer than half an hour or so, I bank it and take time off in lieu of overtime the next week or whatever.

Where's the option for "I work 40 hours because that's what they pay me more and make it clear what incentives I expect for more."

I find that the people who chronically overwork are the ones who have bosses that are terrible at delegating and drop a pile of tasks on them randomly that "need to be deployed today". With good organization and realistic project goals I think 40 & gone is fine. If they want more they have to give good reason, especially if it's for free. Personally I wouldn't mind so much because I'm a contract consultant. I just keep billing. But man would I be annoyed as a salaried guy.

I used to be in this position and yeah it wasn't nice. We also didn't get overtime, so nobody was motivated when we had to work weekends because something was promised to a client. I'm contracting now though, so yeah, I don't mind :)

I work 40 hours a week, and believe the best job is the one that pays the most for the least amount of time involved.

You should really have choices less than 40 hours. e.g. in France anything over 35 hours is considered overtime.

I'm here for 45, probably work 25.

I like the way you described the difference between various positive attitudes. Thanks!

Just to clarify: are we talking as if a concept of overtime pay did not exist?

Where's the I work 45+ hours because I have equity or options?

I work 40 hours day job, 15 hours freelance (trying to stop this) .

prior to a couple of months ago I was 40hour and out the door however now they want me to work 45. I'm convinced that I've become less productive overall because of it.

What about those that prefer working less than 40 hours?

What if I work two jobs? Or I work less than 40 hours?

37 hours is the common thing in Denmark :-)

20 hours a day ... except week ends

Too context specific to give a single answer here.

Presumably this has to do with the Penny Arcade story... I can tell you for sure I wouldn't work 80 hours a week for below market rate with seemingly no equity in the company. That shit is bananas.

I'm in the process of re-evaluating my approach to this.

If you waste a significant fraction of my time in unproductive activity and environment, I'm increasingly less inclined to give you more of my time in terms of compensating by completing work at other times.

Also, if you are paying my a "salary" but then expect me to clock in fixed time, that together with other demands causes me to exceed my ostensible commitment. E.g. I am there late in the evening or over the weekend to deploy, troubleshoot, etc., but then can't leave an hour early on a slow day because "my schedule is 8:30 - 5:00".

Well, these days: Fuck that.

P.S. I also resent having to ask/beg for that hour. If you're reasonable, I am willing to check that there's no pending or anticipated demand that I'm unaware of. I'm not asking whether I have permission; I'm just checking that nothing will go horribly wrong.

If this turns into your personal power trip...

Perhaps 40 and 45 hours choices are not distinguishable in the real world. 9-5 or 9-6? 8.30 to 6.30? All of these can be equalized with some decompression time during the day. The real problems start when these windows are non-viable and 50 hours+ is numerically when that starts happening.

I voted twice. Two of those categories overlap a bit.

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