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Work hours/week?

This weekend I snapped.  I took Friday & Monday off to visit a friend in Houston and found myself working (on my laptop) when not out and about in Houston instead of relaxing, etc.  My boss hadn't noticed I requested those days off and scheduled a meeting to demo the application on Tuesday.  To make a long story short, I lost it and emailed my boss telling him to reschedule the meeting.  And to my surprise, he did.  No issues, etc.

So since then, I refuse to work 1 minute past 5pm.  I think if more people took this attitude, we'd have fewer unemployed programmers and generally happier employees.  Today, a programmer friend of mine goes off on a rant that his boss expects too much and that he puts in way too many 80 hour weeks. 

So, I'm just wondering, how many hours do you work per week?  That includes learning new skills, research, etc. 

Personally, I can't justify working more than 40 hours anymore, no overtime pay and I've gotten to the point where I don't enjoy programming because just like anything else, too much of anything can be a bad thing.
Even after just 3 days of 8 hour days, I find myself in a much better mood.  Oh well, just food for thought.

GiorgioG
Friday, February 14, 2003

I often wonder why programming has a culture where long hours are the norm. Personally, I hate it. It makes me sad to see the 40 year old guys at the office at 8:30 PM. I don't want to be like them.

jw
Friday, February 14, 2003

Its called 'Promises'

Look we promised we'd get this release out, and (ok I promised), and we just have to (ok, no I didn't ask anyone first), but you agreed that you'd have this done (ok I know you had a hardware problem but they don't understand), we just have to do it.

Repeat ad nausiam.

Simon Lucy
Friday, February 14, 2003

Stop whining. If you do not want to work 80 hours a week then don't.

I am happy putting in sometimes 90+ hours (yes that includes weekends) a week. I would hate to *have* to go home after an 8 hour day just because some politician decided that it was in the public's interest.

To call for a limit to the hours to increase employment is preposterous. I mean why stop at 40 hours. Why not all work only 20 hours. That way we get even more folk employed, and we all get to spend more time with our families etc etc etc.

Long live long hours!

tapiwa
Friday, February 14, 2003

Tapiwa,

You don't honestly think the 40-or-so hour work week was "invented" to increase employment, do you?

Don't you think it would be based on practical experience with and scientific research after human productivity under specific working conditions?

Meaning that in general, people become less productive, or even counter productive after a certain period of continous work.
"In general" means that it isn't exactly the same for everyone and for all kinds of work, under all kinds of circumstances.

So why agree on a 40-hour work week? Because that at least gives you some idea of what is reasonable to expect. As opposed to not knowing anything at all and having to find out in practice. With all the consequences that come with it.

Practical Geezer
Friday, February 14, 2003

Tapiwa, how long have you been working? Because I am starting to see a scary pattern emerge. People leave college and join a company where long hours are the norm. There is this culture of "We're techies, we're hard-core, we work long hours because we're committed to getting things done". So you learn this culture at the knees of the "old folks" and you preach it to anyone who will listen. Adding to this is the fact that most good developers really love what they do - often they started programming as a hobby and they love the idea of turning a favourite pastime into a job.

But cut down to a few years down the line. The guys are demotivated, their health is falling apart and they start hating their jobs. But by then the culture is entrenched and they have set such a precedent that they can't walk away any more - they are now known at the company for being a "gets things done" kinda guy and their bosses just keep loading it on. They also often don't have the skills to say no because they've never tried it before!

And then you get really sad things happen like people quit "for no apparent reason", or go postal, or have a heart-attack. Or my absolute worst, suffer in silence.

Astarte
Friday, February 14, 2003


The problem here is that organizations typically are geared so that "rewards" are given to those who put in long hours simply for the long hours.

Example: Joe Programmer puts in an 80 hour week finishes some promised feature just at the deadline. The crowd goes wild. Joe's a hero.

Unfortunately, later, when that feature spawns 20 or 30 defect reports, no one thinks back and says "You know, maybe Joe putting in 80 hours a week isn't worth it".

Joe remembers the pat on the back for pulling off the miracle. He doesn't think about the extra work he's created. Hell, it's possible he doesn't even see the defects and that some other poor schmuck has had to fix them instead.

Combine this with a manager who's not really seeing what's going on and who rewards Joe with a promotion and more money and is it any wonder that Joe is going to continue pulling all-nighters?

Bruce Rennie
Friday, February 14, 2003

IMHO (love this disclaimer); humans have to work (or stay busy some way) to live a content life.  Your work "should be" fulfilling.  If its not, then find a way out.  Working long hours sometimes is a part of life.  Things just have to get done (feasibly).  Some people though are workaholics and they build a culture and lifestyle around work.  Its more understandable if you're running a startup (lots to learn!), but even that has to wind down after time.  If not, the human will burn out.  Even overtime pay loses its luster after a while because people eventually start asking, "What the heck have I done with my life?", after 'x' number of years.

Monster.ca and others love to advertise "work=life".  And in North America it seems to be true.  You live to work!  The morons who decided to give human civilization on this continent only two weeks of vacation time were obviously workaholics.

There are still occasions where some long hours are required within the schedule.  But ultimately, its your choice (atleast here, in Canada).  I used to live at work, but realized that unless those extra hours are directly going back into your own interests (eg. own company), then all you are doing is wasting good daylight.

I now work 40.001 hours a week, and try not let work get in the way of life.

sedwo
Friday, February 14, 2003

Tapiwa, I'm guessing you don't have a family.

Because 80 hour weeks are for people who either (a) don't have a family, or (b) don't give a shit about their families, and surely you don't fall into group (b).

But your attitude ("long live long hours") also suggests you don't understand families and how they are important to a good life.

programmer
Friday, February 14, 2003

I work about 41 hours per week.

The purpose of work is to give me money so that I can live a fulfilling life. Of course, I also happen to enjoy it, so I do programming projects in my spare time sometimes. Or I go to the movies. Or I hang out with my kids. Or I take the time to prepare a nice meal with fresh ingredients.

If I have to work late one evening (it happens sometimes, and I don't mide), then I come in late or leave early the next day. When you get paid on salary, the value placed on your time decreases when you start to work more than 40 hours. Don't do it.

Furthermore, if you work 60 or 80 hour weeks, you're contributing to a culture of error in the IT sector. Want to know one of the reasons that programming deadlines are so impossible to reach? They are based on 8 hour days. If you say to a manager "I can get that done in a week," the manager adds 40 hours to the development schedule. Unfortunately, you probably meant "I can get than done in 80 hours." Time estimation erros like that pile up pretty quickly and ruin life for everyone else.

Benji Smith
Friday, February 14, 2003

"What would you do with your life if you won a million dollars?"

Well, of course my first answer is "two chicks", but then my second answer is that if I won the lottery, my hobby would be coding.

So that means that at work I'm being paid to do my hobby. I do not see this as a bad thing.

The other contributing factor is pride in one's work - generally when I'm working long hours, the long hours are a result of my own standards (or a demo, but that's a rant in itself). But the hours don't wear me down as "work", because I'm usually enjoying what I'm doing, and attitude is a major contributor towards mental health (if you hate your job, it wears you down faster)

Of course, the final thing to note is that I've only worked a job that didn't pay overtime once, and I'll never do *that* again.  ;-)

Philo

Philip Janus
Friday, February 14, 2003

"The morons who decided to give human civilization on this continent only two weeks of vacation time were obviously workaholics."

This (above) and the long hours is one of the reasons I decided to turn down job offers in the US.


Work to live, not the other way round !

.za
Friday, February 14, 2003

I worked 80 hour+ weeks while contracting to dotcoms a few years ago and what did it get me? zippy. nadda.  Never again.

I usually work about 40+ because I get paid by the hour and I like to put in about 9 a day. Anything past that and my mind wanders and I become unproductive. Plus I have a 3 hour commute each day and a daughter to watch on the weekends. Even at 40 hours I find myself only having 1-2 hours of free time each day to just sit and read or relax.


Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint race. There is no end in sight so don't burn yourself out just to buy your boss another summer home.

Ian Stallings
Friday, February 14, 2003

Philip Janus,

I can understand your love of programming. I think that if I won the lottery, I would still do a fair amount of programming.

But you really still shouldn't work more than 60 hours in any single week, ever, unless you have ownership in the company. You also shouldn't average more than 45 to 50 hours per week over any given year.

When you work long hours for the same pay, you are lowering your value as an employee. You are saying "not only can I deliver X in a week, I can deliver X+1 in the same time period, for the same price." If too many people are willing to give away extra work for free, the wage statistics for the entire industry suffer.

If you really like programming, go have at 5:00 and work on personal projects. If you put in 40 hours a week at work and then another 40 hours on your own projects, and if you're even remotely innovative, you should have a product within a year or two that you can sell yourself. Having all of that extra code, that you own yourself, is a significant asset.

Do yourself, and everyone else (but more importantly yourself), a favor and retain the value of your extra hours for your own benefit.

Benji Smith
Friday, February 14, 2003

I rarely see a need to work over 40 hours per week.  But I mean a solid 40, not read JoS, read slasshdot, read email, check stocks, chat about TV.  I mean 40 solid hours, period.  Then I'm done.  I go home and at least *try* to forget about it.

Nat Ersoz
Friday, February 14, 2003

You are saying "not only can I deliver X in a week, I can deliver X+1 in the same time period, for the same price."

****

No, I'm paid hourly. "Not only can I deliver X in a week, I can deliver X + 1 in the same time period, but it will cost you more." The people you really want to rebuke are all the wage slaves that keep taking jobs that don't pay overtime.

Philo

Philip Janus
Friday, February 14, 2003

tapiwa,

I'm curious.  Have you ever calculated your hourly income based on salary / hours worked per week?

I used to work at a bank on salary where I got the hairy eyeball whenever I dared take my hour lunch or leave after eight hours of work (which I pretty much always did).  Eventually I quit because they wouldn't let me off for Thanksgiving (important family holiday).

A friend of mine, who got me the job, was a manager there, probably making twice as much as me, but working as long as 18 hour days in his department.  In return for his dedication, he got fired over a departmental irregularity that wasn't really his fault, and he's been looking for a job now since August.

I don't know about him, but I sure learned a lesson from these circumstances.  In my new job, I make less, but work for a university where I get 18 hours of no-strings-attached free tuition a year, all of which I use; add in the value of that, and I make more.  And I'm hourly.

And I'm bored stiff, but that's another story.

Kyralessa
Friday, February 14, 2003

Simon:

So true!

Here's a very common dialogue with our CEO (30-something people at our web dev./web software firm, so she's still involved in such things)

Boss: "How long is this going to take you?"
Programmer: "Barring any unforseen issues, I'd estimate a week."
Boss: "No, that's not good enough. Guys, we NEED to get this done by tomorrow."
Programmer (to self): "Oh, well since you put it that way, I'll just bend the laws of time and space!"

To her credit, she's getting better about it -- due in no small part to the fact we've had 70% turnover in the two years I've been here (some programmers, some not).

Joe Grossberg (who worked 12 hours yesterday because our team is spread so thin)
http://www.joegrossberg.com

Joe Grossberg
Friday, February 14, 2003

I work 40-50 hours / week.  I generally try to put 8 of my best hours in per day.  This means that 8 hours of me actively coding, working on problems, etc.  Time I spent towards lunch and chatting and phone calls and surfing the 'net doesn't count towards this.

I've met some mutants who manage to keep concentration and be able to work more than 8 hours in a row and not break everything.  Those people are rare and special.  Usually, the rest of the time, you either write code that's quite buggy, or you are working 8 hours and goofing for 4 hours and calling that a 12 hour work day.

Coding in 12 hour days is like playing guitar whilst smoking pot.  You think that you are in an awesome guitar groove, but the stone-cold-sober person who's listening is probably thinking that he's heard better music from a 4 year old.

It's a viscous cycle.  The boss expects you to work 12 hours, so you measure your effort so that you don't burn out in a week.  You get used to that, so the idea of working a shorter day doesn't occur to you.

But really, I think most people would rather surf the web and play games from their comfortable chair in comfortable clothes, with the dog napping on your toes.  They'd rather spend quality with their friends and family instead of chatting with co-workers.

flamebait sr.
Friday, February 14, 2003

"Coding in 12 hour days is like playing guitar whilst smoking pot..."

flamebait (the XXII),  That paragraph should be made into a motivational poster or trophy or something.

That's the best synopsis of what a work day should and should not be I've ever seen.

Nat Ersoz
Friday, February 14, 2003

My view is this:  There are a very rare few companies where working overtime makes any difference at all.  For the rest, many waste your time so that you're working to maintain average productivity, except that there's a cost in resentment and burnout.

Maybe there are so many answers because companies differ wildly in this regard.

I'd say one big factor is the amount you can talk with others interestingly.  And also, how gratification occurs.

Tj
Friday, February 14, 2003

Oh yeah, and individual variability.

Tj
Friday, February 14, 2003

(this is not directed at the poster or any of the respondents, this is simply a rant.)

Ah, the idealism of the techie working on his bosses' projects... slaving away 60+ hours per week for glory, for nothing in writing, for pipe dreams and promises.


Companies work techies into the ground because they can get away with it, because in turn many techies (and presumably many 'bright' people) are convinced that there is honor in killing yourself to make someone else rich.


It's always amazed me how brilliant 130+IQ types that can rip out 10s of thousands of lines of C++ can be such completely gullible and naive simps when it comes to understanding that they are being exploited. It's as though there is a law of nature at work that says something like "academically brilliant but must be utterly clueless and retarded about craven exploitation." It's no wonder that heahunters and borks (contracting brokers) consider us nitwits and dick with us mercilessly.


I think it's a sick system that is supported both by the greed and dishonesty of business culture as well as the pencil necked geek idealism of the fool that thinks that coding is the entire universe, who is "paid to play" in his mind. Try to sustain that for even 5 years and see how many all nighters you pull. The main problem is - companies and bosses conveniently *forget* your accomplishments. Business is ALL about "what did you do for me lately?" Younger techies let themselves get whipped into a fervor for some new crap that their company is interested in, they bleed themselves white for months, and often wind up disregarded or even fired.


This is why I'm a contractor. Businesses lie, and deferred rewards not supported by written contracts are for *fools*.


I'll take my rewards on the tabletop in real time, thankyouverymuch. Glory is for the naive.

Bored Bystander
Friday, February 14, 2003

Oh, one more thing. This was not a socialistic, business hating rant. Business is entitled to do whatever it wants with consenting adults. If those consenting adults en masse think that it's a good idea to act as slave labor, it's really nobody's business to 'reform' either party.

Normally, most classes of workers have more common sense than to live for the job. Not so for programmers.

My point is that programmers and other techies are in a special class of paraprofessional that is simultaneously extremely vulnerable to unfair labor practices as well as thinking itself a sort of elite godhood of meritocracy.

Bored Bystander
Friday, February 14, 2003

I'd only work 80 hours/week if it's for a company I own or I have tons of stock options. Otherwise, it's just a day job.

this and that
Friday, February 14, 2003

I'm salaried and I work 40 hours a week.  And if I work 45 hours one week, I'm allowed to work 35 the next. It works similar if I work 12 hours one day (on my own choice), I can work 4 the next, or however I want to account for it. "comp time" is what they call it.  Its nice that where I work they're really attentive to whats healthy and productive, and they don't work you into the ground.  fyi, I work the US gov't.

A related anecdote:  I was talking with a client the other day about a very large application port we're working on (4D database and client app ported to Oracle & oracle forms and reports).  She asked when I'd be finished (its almost done, kinda), so I said "its too big with too many variables to give you a reliable estimate, but I'll keep you updated weekly."  She said "OK" and that was that.

Andrew Hurst
Friday, February 14, 2003

"It's a viscous cycle."

Quite so.  Thick, gummy, and sticky, and hard to work your way out of.  :)

Kyralessa
Friday, February 14, 2003

"I often wonder why programming has a culture where long hours are the norm. Personally, I hate it. It makes me sad to see the 40 year old guys at the office at 8:30 PM. I don't want to be like them. "

If you were married to their wives, you'd probably change your mind.  The work-all-day-and-nighters are doing that because it's the best offer they've got, usually.

Robert
Friday, February 14, 2003

An enormous number of studies have been done to determine  how much work it is possible to extract from a human being.

The US Navy has been especially persistent.

Bottom line: 56 hours per week sustained.  Attempting to get more is very counterproductive.

Even in times of crisis one can't get much over 60, and maintaining that level for more than a week or two causes effective productivity to be less than 40 hour week.

Anonymous Coward
Friday, February 14, 2003

The "if you really loved programming, you wouldn't want to work less than 80 hours a week" logic is an evil lie used to keep sane people out of computing.  It's like saying "if you really loved me, it wouldn't matter that I'm sleeping with your best friend."

Unless your definitition of love doesn't include the word "healthy."

Contrary Mary
Friday, February 14, 2003

"if you really loved me, it wouldn't matter that I'm sleeping with your best friend."

-gotta agree with this - hilarious:-)

Prakash S
Friday, February 14, 2003

Hmm... What are you guys talking about?

If you work for McDonalds, the question of hours per week is easy. You flip burgers - you work. You stop - you don't work. Simple.

But for programming as something that has to do with thinking (well, sometimes), the measure of "hours per week" is not that meaningful.

When you say you work _exactly_ 40 hours per week, does it mean that you stay exactly 40 hours at your office and never:
- look at news web-sites
- never read JoS, usebet, slashdot, etc. at work
- never spend any time on other not directly-work-related activities?

Or does it mean that you include reading JoS, interesting programming books, etc. in these 40 hours, justifiying it by the fact that you learn new things, that can be related to your work? But then, do you read anything work-related from home? In this case, do you include these hours to the beforementioned 40 hours/week?

I'm curious because I have no idea how many hours per week I've been working, typically. Depending on the definition, it could be anything from 10 to 100 hours per week.

raindog
Friday, February 14, 2003

I work 40 hours a week.  I'm a technical writer, though, so that's not precisely the same as programming.  But I certainly have deadline stress ("The developers just finished this feature!  We're going to ship it tonight.  Can you write the documentation by then?").

That number includes breaks and relaxation at work (reading websites, eating a quick lunch, etc.).

I only work more than 40 hours a week when there's a critical deadline.  I make sure to schedule *plenty* of time in my estimates, so that crunch times are rare.  (Note that this is not needless padding; it's recognition that things *will* go wrong, and providing adequate time to deal with it.)

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, February 14, 2003

raindog:  Good point.  I can think of a few good tests for whether something counts as work:

Am I spending this time the way I want?
Are they paying me to do it?
Would I do it for free?

Analogies might help; if I lead a bicycle tour, it's a safe bet I enjoy cycling.  But leading a tour group is probably not the first way I'd spend my time all day (more likely I'd ride solo), and I wouldn't lead a group for free.  So it's work.

If I'm studying a new technology at the office with the boss's approval, or because it's to be used specifically on a work project, then it's work.  If I'm doing it because I think I might use it later on the job, but then I might not, then I doubt it's work.  Probably one good way to ask is: Who gets more benefit out of me learning this, me or the company?

Oh, and if it bores the hell out of me like my job does these days, it's definitely work.

Kyralessa
Friday, February 14, 2003

Anonymous Coward (or anyone else):

Those Navy studies sound interesting.  Could you point me to an origional source?  I'm interested in research in this area - the anecdotal stuff here is great, but I'd love to read some "real" studies. 

Tim M.
Friday, February 14, 2003

> So since then, I refuse to work 1 minute past 5pm. 

This attitude is why firms opt to hire 25 year olds and/or outsource.  Of course, it then becomes "age discrimination."  Not "work ethic" discrimination.

Bella
Friday, February 14, 2003

> It's always amazed me how brilliant 130+IQ types that can rip out 10s of thousands of lines of C++ can be such completely gullible and naive simps when it comes to understanding that they are being exploited.

Who's exploiting whom?  Who made you king to decide ?  No is forced to work w/ a gun to their head.  They are there by their own volition, and its your OPINION that they're being exploited.  Get a clue.

Bella
Friday, February 14, 2003

Back in the good old days of the dot-com era, the local
newspaper of the Silicon Valley would frequently run the
same basic fluff piece about those crazy hardworking kids
in the next-big-thing startup.

And without fail, each of these articles would mention
the 20-hour work days, and every single article would
be accompanied by a picture of those same hardworking
troopers playing foosball at midnight.

In my experience, sixty hours weeks at most places
simply means "nothing better to do, and no where else
to go". 

Jeff Hultquist
Friday, February 14, 2003

Bella writes:

Who's exploiting whom?  Who made you king to decide ?  No is forced to work w/ a gun to their head.  They are there by their own volition, and its your OPINION that they're being exploited.  Get a clue.

----

It's an accepted norm.  And personally, I can't see myself doing that in 5 years, let alone next week.  My lifestyle wouldn't change all that much if I were making $10/hr doing something much less stressful.  But that isn't the case for probably a good deal of you (seems like there's an abundance of really smart & experienced people on this board.)  I don't have kids, family, blah blah.  Others do and that's why they can't say 'screw it' and go work at some lowly job for much less $.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the work, but it should not be my primary mission to make my boss extra money on my time.  My contract says 40 hour work weeks.  Does yours?  If so, why are you working on your time?  Maybe people don't look at it this way.

In any case, it's more about fighting myself into ignoring imaginary deadlines (they all are imaginary) and enjoying the work at my own pace, on 'their' time - because hey, in the end, it's just a job.

GiorgioG
Friday, February 14, 2003

Giorgio,

From all your previous posts I can guess you are pretty smart guy. Why the hell do you want to slave away in a cubicle.

If you are getting paid by the hour, don't work for more than 40 hours, and absolutely no work on weekends.

If you have not yet read "The 7 habits of highly successful people", go read it now.

Cheers!

Prakash S
Saturday, February 15, 2003

>  She asked when I'd be finished (its almost done, kinda), so I said "its too big with too many variables to give you a reliable estimate, but I'll keep you updated weekly."  She said "OK" and that was that.

Are you bragging about bad project management ?

Bella
Saturday, February 15, 2003

Prakash wrote:

<<
From all your previous posts I can guess you are pretty smart guy. Why the hell do you want to slave away in a cubicle.
>>

Not sure if I'm all that smart, but thanks for the complement.  I don't want to slave away in a cubicle.  In fact I slave away in my home office and sometimes in bed, which is why it's hard to get away from work.  Boss calls at 5:30pm, wants this, wants that.  Ok, it's not everyday and it's not usually a big deal, but still.

<<
If you are getting paid by the hour, don't work for more than 40 hours, and absolutely no work on weekends.
>>

I'm salaried and at the low range of the pay-scale at that. but mostly the issue is there's no separation of working in an office vs. working at home.  Granted, it's nice, but I have other issues with it (I feel like a hermit, etc.) 

I think I just might need a change (shameless plug - my resume is at http://www.galantecorp.com)

<<
If you have not yet read "The 7 habits of highly successful people", go read it now.
>>

Bought it a couple of weeks ago.  Also reading "What should I do with my life" by Po Bronson.  Pretty decent so far.

GiorgioG
Saturday, February 15, 2003

<<
>She asked when I'd be finished (its almost done, kinda), so I said "its too big with too many variables to give you a reliable estimate, but I'll keep you updated weekly."  She said "OK" and that was that.

Bella wrote:
Are you bragging about bad project management ?
>>

If the project has loosely-defined requirements, many change requests, or the developers are delving into new territory, there's no way to guestimate the right completion date unless you're going to pull it out of a magic hat.  Usually these are hourly projects (at least at my company.) 



<<
GiorgioG wrote:
So since then, I refuse to work 1 minute past 5pm. 

Bella wrote:

>This attitude is why firms opt to hire 25 year olds and/or outsource.  Of course, it then becomes "age discrimination."  Not "work ethic" discrimination.
Bella, just an observation - you seem to jump to conclusions fairly often.  Relax. 
>>

I am 25 years old ;-)

GiorgioG
Saturday, February 15, 2003

I've quite enjoyed this thread, it's nice to see everyone's getting away from the horrible must-work-more attitude of a couple of years ago and realising social life, family etc is also important. Maybe it's because of all those stock option promises turned out to be worthless.

The thing is though, the person who works extra hours for *no more money* is spoiling it for everyone else, both in the workplace and in the marketplace. Put it this way, if I complete a piece of work in 10 hours and charge the client for 20 that is obviously fraudulent (and probably illegal under the accounting rules, I don't know).

But if I promise them 10 hours and charge 10 while actually taking 20, that's seen as acceptable. But you're still cooking the books, how can you know how to be competitive if you're not doing your accounts properly? It's just not a sustainable way of doing work.

I guess this could be one of the many reasons all those new media companies struggles and failed once they got big enough to take on more staff.

Neil E
Saturday, February 15, 2003

Jeez, I did not think I would stir this much emotion.

First, a disclaimer. IANAC (i am not a coder). I work with figures. I do however end up doing some database and web stuff in my department. (because it is quicker than waiting for helpdesk to sort it out). Maybe it would be different if I was a coder, but I find I can work *many* hours a week, and produce work of the same standard as I do when I work a 40 or 35 hour week.

Secondly. Maybe my attitude is a result of my upbringing. As a kid, I worked for my parents. They ran their own business. The attitude of doing what it takes to get the job certainly prevailed in our household. Secondly, because I was the bosses son, I could not really be seen to be slacking ... ...

tapiwa
Saturday, February 15, 2003

<<Don't you think it would be based on practical experience with and scientific research after human productivity under specific working conditions?>>

I am always suspicious of studies on human behaviour and what the optimum conditions for perfect workmanship are.

Why does most of the world have a five day working week? Even God is supposed to have done six days and then rested. (not sure what he did after that though, so he might still be on a long weekend.)

Is 35 hours the law in France because some politicians thought it would be a good thing(tm) or is it because of some scientific research.

Why, in a lot of countries, is the retirement age set at 65 for men and 60 for women.  I am sure that there is some research to support that one too.

In fact, why are the halves in a soccer game 45 min long? Bet you some scientist decided that that was the optimum time to have players on the pitch to avoid overexertion :)

One thing that comes to mind is an album by the Doobie Brothers .... What were once vices are now habits. I would add what were once habits, are now laws! (EU directives on working hours anyone?)

tapiwa
Saturday, February 15, 2003

<<Tapiwa, how long have you been working?>>
I have been working for a long time. I am 26, but I started working for my parents when I was pre teen.

<<Tapiwa, I'm guessing you don't have a family.>>
Not really. Family lives in another country. Having said that though, I do have a solid social life.

<<But the hours don't wear me down as "work", because I'm usually enjoying what I'm doing, and attitude is a major contributor towards mental health>>
Hear Hear!!

<<Work to live, not the other way round !>>
Your assumption here is that you can seperate the two. I get on really well with the folk I work with. My mood or attitude does not change when I am at work. If I am having fun, does the fact that I am having it at work make it any less than if I was with my family? Personally, I don't think so.

<<Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint race. >>
The problem with the rat race, sprint or marathon, is that even if you win, you are still a rat!:)

tapiwa
Saturday, February 15, 2003

<<I'm curious.  Have you ever calculated your hourly income based on salary / hours worked per week?>>

I have, and it does not change a thing. Still happy.

<< many techies ... are convinced that there is honor in killing yourself to make someone else rich.>>

My motivations for working long hours are personal, and I am happy if other people are happy to stick to the 40 on the contract, but don't force me to go home after X number of hours.

<<But for programming as something that has to do with thinking (well, sometimes), the measure of "hours per week" is not that meaningful.>>

I totally agree with raindog on this one. This is one of my problems with the idea of the 9-5. There are a few jobs that require your physical presence in the office from 9-5.

If I agree to do a job, by a certain date, then the onus is on me to deliver. If I get the figures wrong and end up working muchos hours, and I don't like it, then next time I will think twice before saying yes.

<<"nothing better to do, and no where else to go". >>
I agree with Jeff on this too. Sometimes I get to the end of the day. Decide I have nothing else/better to do, and continue working! I need a life .. .. (anyone know any single, good looking, intelligent and interesting females in London?)

tapiwa
Saturday, February 15, 2003

<<The thing is though, the person who works extra hours for *no more money* is spoiling it for everyone else, both in the workplace and in the marketplace.>>

Yo Neil, let's put it this way, every pub that is running a happy hour, aka buy-one get-one-free is spoiling it for all the other bars:)

Why is there a natural tendency to not view labour as a commodity which must be traded at the market value.

It's called competition. If I know that there is a shortage of jobs, or rather a glut of programmers, I can try and convince a potential employer to get one and a half programmers for the price of one (long hours for same pay). If I can convince him that I can deliver, then he will more likely employ me instead of someone whom (all other things being equal) will walk out the door at 17h01.

tapiwa
Saturday, February 15, 2003

Tapiwa wrote:

<<
First, a disclaimer. IANAC (i am not a coder). I work with figures.
>>

Are you an accountant/finance person?  Do you make money for your company?  The reason I ask this is because most developers I know, with exception to ones that work in large enterprises, produce a product that will be sold, be it as a retail package or a consulting type product.  So in effect, we are directly producing income.  And most of us do not get any extra compensation for shipping the product 1 day, 1 week or 1 month early so Inetrode's stock can go up 0.25%


<<
Secondly. Maybe my attitude is a result of my upbringing.
>>

I think everyone's attitude is a result of their upbringing ;-)
My father's worked 70+ hours for most of his life in a factory.  But he's hourly and makes more an hour than I do.  Would I find that to be an acceptable lifestyle?  No.  Even if I were being paid hourly.

<<
The attitude of doing what it takes to get the job certainly prevailed in our household.
>>

At the end of your life, what do you want people to remember about you?  That you were a hard worker?  Or that you lived life to the fullest?  If work 'completes you', great - I suspect this is not the case for the other 99% of the people out there.

GiorgioG
Saturday, February 15, 2003

Quick response before I dash out.

I believe in working hard and playing hard. I don't  think that there is a single person in our offices that can outparty me. Work life balance.

More importantly though, I like to live life day by day. I want to go to bed every night, and think "It's been a good day". This might mean having been super productive. It might mean having been to a great party. It might mean .. ..

I figure if I have a great day everyday of my life, then its been a good life!

Epitaph:: Sleeping, not dead.

tapiwa
Saturday, February 15, 2003

"Why, in a lot of countries, is the retirement age set at 65 for men and 60 for women.  I am sure that there is some research to support that one too."

Actually, according to my sociology prof from "Sociology and Work" (several years ago, but I could *probably* dig up the reference if I needed to), the retirement age was first set in Europe (Germany?).  65 was chosen based on then-current life span ranges.  At the time, a relatively small percentage of people would live long enough to collect social security upon retirement - meaning that the cost of implementing a retirement age was minimal, although it looked good.  Other countries gradually adopted the same measure. However, as our lifespans increased, the retirement age was not adjusted.

Most sociology of work and organizational behaviour courses at the university level these days also mention that the "you should retire at 65" mentality is relatively new, and not at all based on research on mental capacities / ability to work of people over 65.

Phibian
Saturday, February 15, 2003

tapiwa,

In regards to your question, there are plenty of good looking young single women living in your neighborhood in London who are looking for a good looking fellow like yourself.

You will have to work less than the 80 hours a week you say you work to meet them though...

It's all part of the life decisions we make. Where do you invest your time? If you love programming, then work for the man 40 hours and work on your own stunning new product on your own time during another 40 hours and become a billionaire. If you love women, work 40 hours for the man and spend your free time travelling about with your beautiful girlfriend during another 40 hours. But if you try to do all three, you are up to trying to sustain 120 hours a week.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, February 15, 2003

"It's called competition. If I know that there is a shortage of jobs, or rather a glut of programmers, I can try and convince a potential employer to get one and a half programmers for the price of one (long hours for same pay)."

Or to put it another way, "I'm all right, jack, I've got a job. I may be getting paid 33% less than I could be, but I've got a job. Aren't I clever. God bless the market."

Lets hope you can find food and lodging for 33% less, too - no doubt the market will satisfy that need, too?

Hell, why not just go the whole hog and work for free?

Neil E
Sunday, February 16, 2003

"If I know that there is a shortage of jobs, or rather a glut of programmers, I can try and convince a potential employer to get one and a half programmers for the price of one (long hours for same pay)."

You could try being more productive instead of just doing long hours.


Monday, February 17, 2003

Hard as it may be to believe, you are only worth what someone is willing to pay.

God bless the free market.

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

And there was me thinking they'd abolished slavery.

Neil E
Monday, February 17, 2003

They haven't. They have just flipped the coin.

So now instead of slave owners forcing people to keep working for them, with threats of violence, we have unions forcing companies to keep them employed, with threats of violence. (strike action anyone?)

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

You know, you're right. I'm so sorry I've been so insensitive to the plight of these poor companies. We really should dig deep for them, the poor things. It's no wonder all those CEOs are running off with the pension money - they're under seige!

Neil E
Monday, February 17, 2003

It's not about feeling sorry for anyone. It is about basic transacting with no one holding a gun to your head.

Your services for their money. Either party not happy, and they walk.

tapiwa
Monday, February 17, 2003

> It's no wonder all those CEOs are running off with the pension money -

Such ignorance. 

Bella
Monday, February 17, 2003

> Such ignorance. 

Go on, enlighten me. I suppose taking a huge final salary pension yourself while closing everyone else's is merely *pretending* to take the pension fund. Or did 'the market' do it, in the drawing room, with a candle stick.

That market gets into a lot of scrapes!

Neil E
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

<<<
<<
>She asked when I'd be finished (its almost done, kinda), so I said "its too big with too many variables to give you a reliable estimate, but I'll keep you updated weekly."  She said "OK" and that was that.

Bella wrote:
Are you bragging about bad project management ?
>>

Georgio wrote:
If the project has loosely-defined requirements, many change requests, or the developers are delving into new territory, there's no way to guestimate the right completion date unless you're going to pull it out of a magic hat.  Usually these are hourly projects (at least at my company.)
>>>

The problem isn't that the project changes a ton, or that there are loosely-defined requirements.  The problem is that I am the 3rd developer working on this migration to oracle, and the ealier developers didn't document what they did.  So when I hear about a new feature that sounds easy, quite often it turns out it would have been easy if its related features were implemented correctly, or even finished, but they were not, so it takes 3 times what I thought it would.

There are quite a few sections of this project that look like they work (i.e. the ui is there, and you get some data) but when you look closer you see that nothing works, right down to the incorrect views in the database.  Luckily the clients understand how much work this project is, and its history.

Andrew Hurst
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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