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Ask HN: How do I deal with the "unpaid overtime crowd"?
56 points by EC1 on Mar 28, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments
The moment I step through my work door I set a timer for 7.5 hours. Once that timer is up, I close all my work, and go home.

There are 4 people on my team, who I honestly think just do not have their own lives. They come in at 8am, and leave around 10. Every single day.

I am at the bottom of our "scoreboard" for bug fixes, yet I work the most efficiently. They have 3x more fixes than I because they just choose to sit here for hours and hours and hours and just work, I don't get it.

Now I look bad in comparison, management doesn't give a shit (obviously) and I have already had my job threatened. "I have no problem buying out the your contract, you're the least effective on our team". And "Why can't you be like _________ and __________?"

My favourite part is, I designed the entire UI/UX for the app, I coded all of it for over 15 mobile devices. These people do not have the same skill set as I do. I explained everything to management, and they just told me "I don't buy it, I expect you to unofficially make up yours hours".

Now they want us to come in on Saturday. Of course the rest of my team has no problem with this, but I run my own company and any second I can find that is free, I'm using, and bet your ass I'm working on my own shit on the weekend.

I've never been so stressed out in my entire life.




First, kudos for doing what every one of us should do i.e. value our own time. It is amazing to see a lot of people who just don't value their time.

This mentality that somehow sitting in office for long hours and cranking shit out is just so horrible. I really believe that this has to do a lot with the individual employee/person rather than just management. Yes, I am not counting out the pointy haired bosses and all but to a great extent, it is up to you, the employee, to dictate how long will you be working on a given day. Sure, some of us love sitting in office because we probably have nothing better to do (been there) but learning to value your time is really underrated. People, learn to value your own time and you will suddenly see how everyone else around you respects you for that. /rant

Now, just to add the other side, creating value is a lot more than spending x hours in office. Like you said, you designed a major component of the app which is what matters. Yes, there may be days when you want to crank that stuff out like there is no tomorrow because you are excited about it, go for it. And yes, go work on some weekends if needed for the team (release/critical fix etc). Take one for the team but do it wisely. Let everyone know that you are willing to raise your hand but you are not a doormat.

In your case, since are you doing the right thing, your company does not deserve you and based on what you said, they already don't care about you. So like everyone else is saying and you know the answer anyway, find something better and move on.


I totally agree with this comment. Being able to value your time is a crucial life skill. Pulling in some overtime hours once in a while is a good thing. Being expected to do so every week is a toxic thing. Been there, done that. Start looking elsewhere while you still have a job, it's so much easier to do so and less pressure during interviews.


His company does not deserve him?

The guy, by his own admission, is more focused on his own company that he works on nights and weekends. Why would any startup want a guy like that unless he was radically better than everyone else?


If you've stopped to look around you'd notice there is a dire shortage of good developers who want to work for others. Nearly all the good developers I know work on side project/hopeful businesses in their spare time. It's almost a mark of a good creative developer that he has those kind of side projects.

A startup would want a guy like him because a startup needs to grow rapidly to justify existing in the first place and a good developer will easily justify their position on a team. If the OP is being truthful, he designed the very product the entire startup is based on. So to answer your question - the startup would want a guy like him because there might not be a startup without him.

Obviously if he's no longer worth his salary then the startup needs to let him go. That decision has absolutely nothing to do with the number of hours he works and everything to do with whether his benefit to the company justifies his cost.


> If the OP is being truthful, he designed the very product the entire startup is based on.

Hell yes I did. Entire UI. Coded it too. 45K, no benefits, nothing, just 1400/two weeks after taxes.


Why would you stay there for 45k and no benifits? 45k/year is a slap in the face for any decent developer.


How on earth do I find another job? I have never once gotten a reply from another company when applying. I'm a university dropout who is 21. Nobody wants to hire me. I'm utilizing like maybe 25% of my potential, so I started my own company.

I'd love some help with this. There's so many companies I want to reply to but I'm scared.


First: don't be scared. Your best offer will be based on how many offers you received. How many offers you receive will be based on how many jobs you try for. When looking for a job you want to apply for as many jobs as possible.

If you're getting very few responses, it means your CV is hitting some kind of red flag. The university dropout might be triggering it - most recruiters will be able to look past it though if you structure it well. You probably need to make sure you downplay education as much as possible and focus on achievements. Highlight which skills and languages you are an expert in and find buzzwords that fit your skill set. There's plenty of jobs, so you can try a few different CVs to a few different companies and see which ones have a good response rate.

Or stick with your own company. You'll probably learn and accomplish more, and ultimately if you build something great then at least you'll be the one getting the rewards. (This is probably not a good option if you have zero runway available, but people have made it work in the past...)


Do you contribute to open source? Do you go to user groups? Do you network with other professionals? If you do any of those and are a competent developer getting offers should be easy. Most good developers who network even just a little bit get contacted by recruiters fairly regularly. On the other hand if you are not a strong developer no matter how much you network no one is going to contact you about open positions at their company.


He doesn't say he is more focused on his own company though...

He does say that he wants to spend his free evening and weekend time working on his own goals versus spending those extra hours for his boss, unpaid....


Why would they care what he does in his free time unless they didn't expect it to be His Time? That's the real question here.

And if they're going to have that sort of expectation - that it not be his time - then not being upfront about it is dishonest; an attempt to get someone in and then take advantage of them. No wonder they didn't get a good cultural fit if they were so dishonest that the poor guy's just figuring out how to deal with it now.


OP puts in the hours that the job requires of him, and doesn't seem to slack off when doing it. Does the company really deserve anything more than that?


ISSUE #1 - Barring unpaid overtime, what are their expectations? You're working 37.5 hours per week (7.5 × 5), which is less than the "standard" 40 (though you're still considered full-time for the sake of benefits, etc.). It's unclear whether your 7.5 hour figure includes "non-productive time" (e.g., lunch, breaks, etc.).

ISSUE #2 - Quantitatively, your numbers may be hyperbole, but they don't bear out your claims. Your co-workers have 3x as many fixes as you, but they only work 2.6x as much as you (assuming 14 hours / day × 7 days / week). By these numbers, they are 15% more effective than you are. (And they're harder workers.)

Fundamentally there's a culture mismatch. You think you have differentiating skills—they don't agree. You think you are more efficient—either they don't agree or that's not their metric. You want to work a 40 hour week—they want people who will kill themselves.

There are a couple options (e.g., going hourly), but I don't think they're realistic given the context. After all, your effective hourly rate is way higher than someone who takes home the same salary but works twice as much. So I agree with the other commentators: find an opportunity that's a better fit for you.


You're working 37.5 hours per week (7.5 × 5), which is less than the "standard" 40

I don't know where OP lives, but several countries have work weeks that are less than 40 hours. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-time


This is my personal opinion as a software development manager, so take it as just that.

A developer that always leave at exactly 17.00 and adamantly refuse to come in on a Saturday, gives a very clear signal that they don't give a shit about the company, the product or the team. They're there to get paid.

While most employers realize that your work isn't (or should be) your single burning passion, it is very negative for team morale when one of the guys always flakes out when the clock hits 17 regardless of the fire in the kitchen.

I knew a developer who always left at exactly 17.00, because "that's what they are paying me for". On several occasions, he deployed breaking changes to production five minutes before leaving. Other devs had to come in and work very late to get the system back online. While he is technically in his right to leave at 5, he causes his team much grief and as such is not an asset.

The other side of the coin is that lots of software companies, really has little to no control over software development. Especially startups run by young, inexperienced guys rarely have any idea what they are doing. This is a company where crisis' occurs daily or weekly instead of maybe once every couple of months.

They make up for this by rampant overtime, and excuse this with BS about being dedicated and a team player. You know you're in such an organization if they talk about how "that's what the industry is like".

Your organizations work culture seem like that - very long hours and (seemingly) no extraordinary reason for coming in on Saturday.

If that's the case, then leave. There's not much that can be done except a total change of top management.

But if it's a rare occurrence that they call you in on Saturday and there is a good explanation for it, then buckle up and help your team mates.


> I knew a developer who always left at exactly 17.00, because "that's what they are paying me for".

What? But that is what you're paying him for. You realize how employment works, surely? You give him some money in exchange for the use of his time and skills to perform a task your business requires. The results of his work are owned by the business who take ownership of any benefits arising from the work. If you want him to be involved in the company, you're going to have to involve him in the rewards by giving him a part of the company.

If there is an emergency and an employee does need to stay later, you need to pay that employee overtime - generally at a higher multiple of his standard pay. The reason for this is because a business needs to avoid having emergencies and the best way to do that is to make having an emergency an expensive thing. Then everyone will work to avoid them.

For the OP: just leave and get a new job. If you're able to put together software as well as you say, then you probably don't even need a job. Find a business co-founder and start your own company.


"The reason for this is because a business needs to avoid having emergencies "

Exactly what I wrote in my post, if you'd actually bothered to read the lower half.

"If there is an emergency and an employee does need to stay later, you need to pay that employee overtime"

I didn't write anything about compensation - I would think it entirely obvious that if you work overtime you either get paid or take compensatory time off?


I read the lower half, but I still wanted to comment on the top half. You seemed to be implying that a fire in the kitchen was the developer's problem. It is not - the business takes ownership of the rewards and the business takes ownership of the fire in the kitchen. If the business wants to make the fire the responsibility of the developer, the business needs to transfer ownership of the benefits of avoiding a fire to the developer as well.

I also noticed you didn't write anything about compensation and that's why I did. That developer that insisted on leaving at 5 because that's what his job was? I can assure you that if you paid him a multiple of his standard rate and made it clear that he was doing the business a favor then he would remain there to help fix the fire.

Also regarding deploying breaking changes five minutes before leaving - I'm assuming this means it was standard procedure to deploy non-breaking changes five minutes before leaving as well. This feels like a management problem. Those changes should be deployed to a staging environment of some kind and not directly to production without some kind of testing or sign off procedure as then it doesn't matter if they break anything as it will continue to be worked on the following day without affecting customers.


1) I'm not sure I understand your first paragraph, feel free to correct: Who else than the developers can actually take responsibility for solving the fire in the kitchen? The business of course holds ultimate responsibility for any aspect of operations, but developers are particularly hired due to the business itself, as well as the managers, being unable to handle such a crisis directly. A developer who abdicates such responsibility, is in effect telling the business they can't be relied on in times of crisis, unless it happen to be at a convenient time for the developer.

Like I stated earlier, a business in which crisis are so frequent as to occur daily or weekly, is badly mismanaged and dysfunctional. Such companies will hide under false pretenses like "that's just the way the industry works", while frankly straight up abusing developers. Crisis should by all means be extremely infrequent, otherwise there's a major management problem, which of course can't be the developers responsibility. I'll restate from all my replies in this thread, that if OP is in such a company, he should leave.

2) In the variety of European countries where I've worked, compensation for over-time is a non-issue - I did not mention compensation explicitly, as it's obvious to me - it's indeed against the law not to compensate. You'd either get full-pay, 50% to 100% increase (usually for night and weekend work), or you'd get time off. From yours and other responses, I gather this is not the standard in the US.

3) Certainly there were deployment procedures, however this developer decided to bypass staging, testing and even didn't perform a smoke test which would have shown the crashed application. He deemed his code of such high quality that nothing could possibly go wrong. And while he didn't follow procedure and therefore caused a minor scandal for this particular company's public image and lots of lost customers, he didn't see why he should be involved in recovery, since it was after 5 o clock. Instead his teammates worked until long into the night, to find out what had actually happened before finally fixing it.


I get where you're coming from much better now. Looking at your original comment/OP's post, I think a lot of the replies you got substituted in information from the OP in places where you did not specify. You've cleared it up though and don't sound so draconian anymore though!

1) The fire in the kitchen isn't the developer's responsibility as he is an employee and does not own the property or the problem. The company is hiring the developer to do work for them - that work includes fixing problems regardless of who created them. If the developer were on a contract for 1 month and something he created exploded on 1month+1day then the developer is under no responsibility to fix that problem. That extends just the same to an employee and shows how the employee is not responsible for the fire. Of course, most employees are going to happily stay and fix what they broke as it's part of professional integrity - but the business owner should really be saying "thank you" in that situation as the employee has gone beyond his employment contract to help. So I disagree with you - the developer being the only one able to solve a problem does not make him responsible in any way. If the developer received the rewards of ownership then he would be responsible.

I'll admit that it doesn't work like this in most cases as employees are scared of getting fired and act more like indentured servants than anything - but as a manager you should try to be above that, I think.

2) Definitely not standard - and the OP who you wrote your comment to is clearly not being offered overtime. He is being told to work more with no mention of more pay. The company wouldn't want him working overtime if it was costing them more than hiring another employee.

3) So the developer deliberately sabotaged established company procedure. I'm not sure what it has to do with the OP so it's probably why the replies to your comment seem confused. At any rate, it's a completely separate issue and even if the dev stayed all weekend to fix the problem, he should still be getting a very stern official warning to follow safety procedures. Seems like an orthogonal issue.


>I would think it entirely obvious that if you work overtime you either get paid or take compensatory time off?

Obvious to whom? I haven't had an employer that finds this point obvious in more than 7 years.


I've only encounted unpaid overtime in chaotic sweatshops, which are similar to the companies I mentioned, of constant fires / crisis'. These are so uncommon though, and the practice by all means illegal, that I'd think it obvious that over-time is compensated one way or the other. Are you in the US? My experience is from a variety of European countries mainly, which might differ vastly from american standards.


In the US, salaried employees aren't legally required to get paid overtime, only hourly employees. The whole point of being salaried is that you're being paid for a year of work, rather than by the hour, so your pay doesn't depend on hours worked.

Typically, full time developers are salaried.


I'm in Canada and it's the same. My salary agreement says I get paid X for Y hours per week and is very vague about how overtime is treated. There is a mention that there may be "expected overtime" required on an occasional basis. I have never received compensation or time-off-in-leiu for overtime worked and during term (i work for a university) it's expected that I work 45-50 as opposed to the 35 that was agreed upon. 35 hours per week is summer only, and then I'd be lucky.


> A developer that always leave at exactly 17.00 and adamantly refuse to come in on a Saturday, gives a very clear signal that they don't give a shit about the company, the product or the team. They're there to get paid.

If once in a while something crops up that requires staying after 5 then that is fine however the expectation should be that all the developers go home at 5pm

> While most employers realize that your work isn't (or should be) your single burning passion, it is very negative for team morale when one of the guys always flakes out when the clock hits 17 regardless of the fire in the kitchen.

If there are constant fires in the kitchen you might want to find out who keeps lighting them, if's not the guy leaving at 5 then I fail to see the issue.

> I knew a developer who always left at exactly 17.00, because "that's what they are paying me for". On several occasions, he deployed breaking changes to production five minutes before leaving. Other devs had to come in and work very late to get the system back online. While he is technically in his right to leave at 5, he causes his team much grief and as such is not an asset.

Pushing to production shortly before going home is a separate issue to whether he leaves on time or not, a developer leaving on time should be expected, a developer pushing breaking changes and leaving should not.

The other stuff I wholeheartedly agree with.


> Pushing to production shortly before going home is a separate issue to whether he leaves on time or not, a developer leaving on time should be expected, a developer pushing breaking changes and leaving should not.

This. I strongly believe in finishing what I've started and not leaving things broken. I also strongly believe in work-life balance which to me means working hard until 5 but leaving then.

EC1: If you're confident that your work ethic is sound, then there sounds like there's a significant culture mismatch here. I know it's not easy to think about going somewhere new, but you may have to consider that sooner rather than later. I honestly wish you the best of luck no matter how this shakes out.


Yeah I might not have been entirely clear in my post, but I write:

"The other side of the coin is that lots of software companies, really has little to no control over software development... This is a company where crisis' occurs daily or weekly instead of maybe once every couple of months."

That's entirely agreeing with your point: The standard should be a well run team where everybody goes home after their 7-8 hours. If there is constant fire in the kitchen, then it's certainly not up to developers to constantly do overtime. In my post I do actually suggest to OP he gets out, if he is indeed in such a situation (which again, it sounds like).


The expectation should absolutely not be that everybody leaves at 5. Why not? Because the expectation shouldn't be that everyone arrives at 8:00:00. As white collar professionals, one of the perks we typically have is flexibility in setting some aspects of our schedules, whether that means taking a couple hours for an appointment, having untracked personal time versus a fixed PTO/sick accrual, or what have you. The flip side of this is that there should also be commensurate flexibility from the other party. Abuse either direction is unacceptable, but mandating precise work hours doesn't mesh well with humanity.


I dont mean any disrespect, but you sound like the same type of manager he has now....

So you have a case where there is a "clock puncher" that is pushing out changes, leaving and then issues occur that others must stay and clean up after.

Would you share if your point of view would be different if that "clock puncher" was your best developer and nobody had to stay late to clean up after his/her mess?


I think I have not formulated myself very well.

A bad company is "a company where crisis' occurs daily or weekly instead of maybe once every couple of months." In such a company, crisis is the standard, not the deviation. In such a company there'll be rampant requests for overtime.

That's a terrible place to work. As I recommended to OP, if he is in such a company (which it could sound like), he should leave.

A good place is one where most people consistently leave after their standard 7-8 hours. But IF there is a fire, then it's a terrible attitude for a developer to adopt a "not my problem, time's up" attitude.

This doesn't only go for devs by the way, it's the same for managers and any other role really.


"A company that always wants me to work past 17.00 and expects me to come in on a Saturday, gives a very clear signal that they don't give a shit about me, the product or the team. They're hiring me to get paid."


Well if it's an employee why should he be taking risks? He's paid until 17h... We can be flexible no doubt, but if one week you work 60 hours to meet a deadline next week you should only work 20. Flexibility works in 2 directions.

If the big payday comes it's not the employee who wins! You aren't betting with equity as employee...


Certainly. Is there anything in my post that suggests flexibility should not be two ways?


If you expect people to work more than eight hours or on Saturdays, pay them by the hour. Otherwise, any negative feelings you may have are your own fault. If you can't pay them, don't have such ridiculous expectations. It's that simple.

EDIT: Also, don't release after noon (or some other set time) and never release on Fridays. This is just common sense if builds have problems. That way, no one has to stay late.


>They're there to get paid

Everyone is there to get paid.

>when one of the guys always flakes out when the clock hits 17

Doing your job is not "flaking out".


1) Of course, but if you do not care at all for the business, the product or your team, your not exactly a paragon of the model employee are you?

2) Leaving at 17 under ordinary circumstances is not flaking out. If there is a major crisis which happens in average maybe once every three months, and you consistently can't be arsed to put in some extra hours of effort while your team mates and managers are, then yes, you are flaking out.


Why is leaving after five the way one demonstrates caring about the business/product/team? Why isn't it just as plausible to say: "I care about the business/product/team, which is why I leave at 5 every day, or shortly thereafter---after all, I want to be refreshed for the following day's work, and don't want to resent time demands the business places on me, etc."? The idea that if I give a shit about something of course I'll spend a bunch of extra time on it and devalue everything else is pernicious. Even a model employee can leave at five.


"Why is leaving after five the way one demonstrates caring about the business/product/team?"

It is not. The way you demonstrate your lack of care is if you insist to leave, even in times of uncommon crisis.

My points from the original post:

1) If it's business as usual = Work the 7-8 hours.

2) If the business has constant emergencies or otherwise requires you to regularly work more than 7-8 hours = It's a badly managed company and you should leave if you aren't in a position to change things.

3) If the business very rarely encounters emergencies: Stick around if you reasonably can, and help your managers and team members get the emergency resolved if this is within your skills and area of responsibility.


Who says a person has to be a paradigm of a model employee? I don't get how we got to this point. That sounds like a work/life imbalance to me if you 'give your all' for a company and that's a 'meets expectations' on a review.

I don't no-life it; I come in at about the same time every day and leave about the same time. If the work is really interesting, I'll surely stick around later, but there's no reason to work 9-10 hours a day if there's no emergency.


Entirely agree. My post makes two points:

1) It should be very rare that work above the normal 7-8 hours is required. If it is common, you are in a dysfunctional software development organization. My advice to OP in this case is to leave.

2) If you and your peers normally work 7-8 hours, it is not unreasonable to expect (for compensation of course), an extra effort in terms of overtime / weekend work in times of extraordinary crisis / emergency.


>but if you do not care at all for the business

Your business? Of course not. Unless I have equity, why would I fall for the "you need to care about the company even though it doesn't care about you" scam?

>or your team

You are the one screwing my team, not me.

>your not exactly a paragon of the model employee are you

I would certainly hope not. I try to me a model human. I have no interest in being a model employee. If you want a slave, buy someone else.

>If there is a major crisis which happens in average maybe once every three months, and you consistently can't be arsed to put in some extra hours of effort while your team mates and managers are, then yes, you are flaking out

If that is part of my job, sure. But you are aiming for a world record in strawmanning with that one. Remember the discussion is about employers feeling entitled to owning employees time?


"Remember the discussion is about employers feeling entitled to owning employees time?"

No, that's actually not at all what this discussion is about. That's what OP's situation is about. My post made two points:

1) If a company is mismanaged or just plain taking advantage of you by requiring regular overtime, then leave such a company.

2) A company (not OP's company) who is well managed and does not require regular overtime, pay their wages on time etc, should be able to expect at least a little bit dedication from their employees. No you don't have to tattoo the product name on your chest, but it would suit you to help out your managers and colleagues in case of (rarely occurring) emergencies.


>should be able to expect at least a little bit dedication from their employees

No they shouldn't. They should expect exactly what they pay for, me to show up and do my job and then leave. If you want me to be invested in the company, then I need a stake in the company. It isn't complicated.


I really hope you don't start a company and have people work on the weekends and threaten them with their job if they refuse.


Where did that come from... Did you read the post in it's entirety?


You have touched a nerve. First, the part where your developer breaks the site and leaves really tells you that he doesn't care about the product.

On the other hand, the fact that he chooses to leave when his time is out shows you that he values his time. He values it more than the company, if you want to look at it like that.

Not everyone who works for you will love your company. For some people it's just a job. Now, it's your choice to make if that is good enough for you.


Yeah definitely seems I have touched a nerve. Just had all my replies being drive-by downvoted by some guy even :-)

In any case, you make a good point. Basically he values a fraction of his time more than any negative, however big, inflicted on his company and his team members.


So I'll lead with "you need to leave." Huge, obvious cultural mismatch.

With that said, I think it's bizarre how some of the commenters here are vilifying your management. I don't know the specifics of your company, but you can't run a startup at crunch time with devs putting in 7.5 hour days. Even at Google, which I considered extremely cushy and laid-back, there was the overt expectation -- repeatedly referenced in internal literature -- that engineer-weeks were about 50 hours long.

I think it's great that you've identified the level of work-life balance that will work for you and are standing your ground. But you need to understand that working 7.5 hours days is not some sort of universal human right. In the (near) future when you search for jobs, you need to communicate that preference up front and make sure that management is on board with it rather than taking for granted that they will be.


I don't agree with this. Why not be able to have a startup succeed with 7.5 hour days?

For me, I can put in a day longer than that when I need to, in an extreme circumstance. But if it becomes often, I just can't be productive longer than that. I loses ability to focus, and start accumulating burn out. My throughput is greater at 7.5 hour days than 10 hour days.

Of course, if there's like a week leading up to a launch where you need to crunch, that's different. I've been there, and have been able to be super productive like that for a week. But it can't be sustained... I feel like I'm basically borrowing some productivity from the future, and that debt will catch up to me eventually.


The sentence in question was: "You can't run a startup at crunch time with devs putting in 7.5 hour days." The "at crunch time" was meant to qualify the rest of it -- to suggest that standard hours might work some or even most of the time, but not when you get that big client on the hook who wants something custom next week. I think that's in line with what you're saying.

With that said, most of the successful startups I know involved long hours early on, and not just occasionally. It absolutely involves borrowing from future productivity and present quality of life. Sometimes taking that loan is worth it, and sometimes it's just a stupid, pointless death march and the urgency is manufactured. The latter might be more common but the former definitely exists.


Also, just to tie back to original post -- the poster's complaint was not, "I'm really giving this job my best but I just can't be productive for longer hours than I'm working right now." It was, "I'm giving this job all I'm willing to because the rest of my time goes towards work on a separate project."


If you've signed a contract that states working hours are between 9-5, I think it's not his job to communicate any diverging preference, that would be the job of management. If 50 hour work weeks are expected, put it in the damn contract.


We're both speculating a bit; neither of us knows what the contract said or how the conversation went during the courtship process. But regardless of whose fault the miscommunication is when it happens, both sides would be better off if they discovered the mismatch in values sooner rather than later, right? FWIW when I'm talking to potential employers I always have an open discussion around work-life balance expectations long before there are contracts on the table. It's a practice that has served me well.


True enough - we don't know the details, and your advice is sound.


"but you can't run a startup at crunch time with devs putting in 7.5 hour days"

You can at 8 hours a day / 40 hours / week. The only reason more hours would be required from engineering is bad management that has unrealistic expectations. So what if it takes an extra week to develop the product? It won't matter. You can most certainly run any company with with a 40 hour workweek. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it.

An eight hour workday may not be a universal human right, but it is well understood to be the standard workday. Any deviation from this like the ten hour days you describe should be stated up front by the employer.


They're simultaneously threatening to fire you and also begging you to do more work; those are polar opposites. Do you feel like they need the work and are trying to use the (empty) threat of termination as motivation, or do you feel like they're trying to take advantage of you and get something for free?

Either way, you should probably quit. But if you can figure out what they actually need, it might help reduce your stress a little bit. Only a little, though, because having abusive managers or coworkers is really terrible and wears at you in a way that's pretty hard to describe. So you should probably quit.


Leave. You're a bad fit for the company culture. The company culture is a bad fit for you.


...best answer.


Its hard to do, but I really think you need to leave.

Give your 2 weeks but be OK if they let you go on the spot.

If you dont have a lot of money, maybe you could put in a few more weeks before you quit and literally try and save every penny you can. If you have vacation time in the bank hopefully you get paid out for it.

I've been in situations where the "Boss" doesn't have a clear technical understanding between different roles and it is very hard. It feels like a Dilbert and/or Office Space moment to me.


> If you have vacation time in the bank hopefully you get paid out for it.

I was under the impression that is legally mandated (at least where I live - NYC). Is that not true?


I think it is, at least here in CA. I also lived in NY and it was the case too.

What I was thinking is that maybe if they terminate him and he is a contract employee they could get out of paying it for a while if there was legal action brought by either party..so he shouldn't count on that money to live until it clears his bank.


I once worked in a cafe in my teens, we would be paid up until half an hour after close to do cleaning. Mopping the floor was the last task I did, it would usually end up running 5 or 10 minutes over the time I got paid. Your post makes me imagine dropping the mop half way through finishing the floors and walking backwards out the door while flipping off my boss because that half hour ticked over.

"The moment I step through my work door I set a timer for 7.5 hours." This is a terrible work ethic. You set a timer? I don't agree with doing unpaid overtime either, you certainly won't see me in the office on a Saturday, but sometimes things need to be completed before you leave for the day. But maybe that's just my opinion working in a remote office in a vastly different time zone to head office where my work needs to be delivered.

Although not a metric, I did chuckle that you state your co-workers work twice as long as you (14hrs vs 7.5) yet have three times as many fixes as you and then reference the reason for this is the time they spend at work.


If the stress is overwhelming you, then you should see if there is a solution to remove the stress. If not, then you should probably quit. It isn't worth what stress can do to your health and relationships.

If they need you to do more work beyond your 40 hour week, to the point that they threaten to fire you, then your supervisor likely realizes they need you.

If you find that at 5pm that you are twenty minuets away from finishing something up, then you should consider doing that from time to time, just to show you're on the team.

I am lucky enough to be in a position that I am on salary, but I am still paid overtime if the work load moves beyond 40 hours a week. If I need to work an extra 15 to 30 minutes to finish up what I'm working on, I don't count that as overtime. If I get a ticket that needs addressed, but there isn't time to do it in the normal work day, that counts as overtime.

Maybe consider proposing something similar. If what they really need is a little more help, but don't want to hire a new dev, they may be willing to come up with a compromise.

Good luck.


As stated by other, the obvious answer is to leave.

What is puzzling to me is that you sound like a skilled and confident developer, yet seem afraid of wading into the job market. Are your local employment options that bad?


They can be that bad depending where you live.

I've got 16 years experience with Linux, more than 20 years experience of programming, more than 3-4 years commercial experience on my current stack.

I've written desktop applications for businesses, I've written software for market traders, I've written web based systems for engineering companies.

I still wouldn't want to be looking for a job where I live right now.


May I ask where you live? I live in flyover country, and I can't imagine you would have a difficult time finding a new gig around here.


North East England, Just outside a town called Hull.


> Are your local employment options that bad?

Well.. I'm not even qualified to apply for job positions in the company where I work, when those positions are for grades two or three rungs lower than me.

And I used to be those positions!

That's the IT job market in the UK these days; infeasible technical criteria in every job posting. 3 years iOS required for a junior developer?


Stress isn't good for your clients and your personal relationships. I've had a similar problem, I'm quite insistent on using my own equipment, my recent client said yes to get me move over 4hrs away from my home, then the security team said no once I setup my kit and put down a six months deposit on a flat. I insisted on new equipment or a pay raise for pay in lieu of my slower rate of experience and discomfort which effects my out of hours work. They bought me a new iMac and I'm now technical lead for a reputable sports product. I arrive at 7am and leave at 3pm but turn out 200% more than other members in the team and maintain test coverage +90%. Remember to keep a smile on your face when you discuss it with them though. They'll worry about what you know and what they don't. The first one to lose their manners is usually wrong regardless of the technical details in companies like these.


I don't think they necessarily "don't give a shit about the company".

In fact, I think setting appropriate personal boundaries is extremely important. A lot of devs recognize 'hour creep'. You know, stay in a few days until 6, and before too long, it becomes expected. I am saying this as a founder and someone who puts in as many possible hours.

At first, I thought, "Are you guys not really in the game?". But now I recognize that there are only a few people who I should really expect to be on that level, and it should be made explicitly clear from the get-go.

In this case, there is a clear metric that the employee is facing. However, this person certainly adds quite a bit of value.

I think this is worth confronting management over. But I also agree, that if there is a rare occurrence for weekend work, then that is also part of the team. Rather than quit outright, like many suggest, I would confront management very clearly about your personal boundaries and ask them explicitly what is the gulf between their expectations and what you are giving.


For reasons like this, I'm not sure I'll go back to a salary model (in favor of hourly model). I value my family time and personal time, but for those times where "the barns burning down", at least I'm compensated for putting out the fire.

(...And if the barn is always burning down, look for a new job.)


Sounds like management doesn't appreciate you, nor are they competent at what they do. You deserve better. It's commendable and professional to work a set number of hours (~7-8 / day, though it varies). It is unprofessional and a sign of management's failure to ask you to work more, work on weekends, or catch up to hours you don't owe them. It would also be unprofessional for you to bow down to such ridiculous requests. It sounds like you are contributing more than anyone and with your skill-set, you should have no problem finding another job, hopefully one that isn't filled with unprofessional managers who can't manage and demand one work unprofessional hours.

tl;dr: Working more than 8 hours a day is unprofessional (except in rare, extreme circumstances where it is rewarded).


> They come in at 8am, and leave around 10

> Now they want us to come in on Saturday.

I would definitely GTFO!

Productivity != hours sitting at a desk.

I have worked at a company like this and the issue was definitely poor management direction and poor technical discipline.


In addition to having a bug "scoreboard". That is so easily gamed it not funny. Grab all the easy bugs, get the top score.


I worked a job where this was the case. The "worst" programmers would literally stay late and knock off the easiest fixes. They got credit and were fine.

I once spent 2 weeks solving 4 related weird crashes that everyone complained about. Involved rewriting code that when I was finished removed 4,514 lines of code and never crashed again. I had my annual review 2 weeks later and the scoreboard was brought up. I told my boss I should get paid more for removing 4,514 lines of spaghetti from the software that made the "company nut". He laughed at me. 3 days later the CEO came down, personally thanked me as they were flooded with client happiness and took me to lunch. Some ear bending and casual talk about vision...next day the scoreboard was taken down and I was in charge of "core" functionality.



Wow! That was an interesting read. Thank you!


I always find it funny when management lauds developers for aggressive bug fixing. Do they not realize that the developers introduced those bugs in the first place?


A bug scoreboard needs two columns. One for bugs fixed and one for bugs created.

Edit: actually, bug scoreboards need to die in a fire. But until then... they need two columns. :)


And a few more columns for:

1. Did you really understand the bug you were fixing?

2. Did you test it at all?

3. Really did you test it?


Not necessarily the same developers.


Or even worse, the Wally-from-Dilbert strategy when a bug bounty was announced: "I'm gonna write me a new minivan this afternoon."


My two cents is that this situation is more prolific than you might think.

My own theory is that most young engineers start out by valuing their own time -- but they find themselves in a situation like this. They then relegate themselves to working long hours to please management, and eventually they work inefficiently all the time and are OK with that.

They're too withdrawn/introverted to stand up to management or take the leap to find a new job.

Regardless, like many others said, time to quit. They're not a good fit for you and a "bugfix scoreboard" sounds absolutely vile.


Look for a new job. Your relationship with them can't be salvaged.

Also, this is why you keep a 6-12 month emergency fund, in case you have to walk away or get fired.


If you aren't already looking for a new job, why aren't you? It sounds like a bad fit and they don't appreciate your contributions.


You posted this looking for support for what you know you need to do.

Quitting isn't fun, but sometimes it's the only way to solve a problem.


Sounds like they are trying to exploit you. There are plenty of companies out there that want you to think of them as "more than a job", but don't want to give you equity or pay competitive wages. Start taking interviews for other jobs. Once you have on lined up, you can either quit, or use it as leverage to talk to your boss.


Instead of writing to the HackerNews posters asking for common sense advice, just quit your job.


It is not easy to leave a paying job for some people. In the same way it is not easy to leave a paying job that is crappy. He isn't asking for common sense advise his is looking for some sort advice that will serve as validation to give him the confidence to make this decision. He probably knows what he needs to do, our answers can only serve to assist him in making this decision.


Seriously, considering the top comment right now, HN is the last place to look for common-sense advice on this issue.


No matter what, get out. They are toxic people with twisted values who do not understand quality. Get out.

Accept their offer to buy out your contract. If they try to terminate you, be ready to lawyer up for a breach-of-contract suit.

Get out.


Like everyone else said the best option is to find place with a better fit. Second, I would throw them a bone here and there until you find something else. third, do enough to get off the bottom of the list.


My suggestion: Look for a company that you can comfortably work the 9-5 and not have any issues with that.


There is no point to play that game, you will loose anyway. Keep with sane hours, find a new job, quit.


Just.. leave. I know it's easier said than done but, I've been in a similar situation. No money in the world pays the stress you're going through.


Environments like this aren't worth dealing with, +1 for bailing. When you're looking at new gigs, ask questions about what the culture is like, oriented around work / life balance, and try to get a feeling for the number of people with families. I personally am a single guy with no children, but I like working around family oriented folks because they are used to the idea that you have many aspects of your life that are more important than your job (whether that happens to be family obligations or not).




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