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Philosophy of long hours vs not

I would have to say there is something wrong with the theory of programmers getting bullied into working long hours.  It's more complex than that. 

Honestly, many of us (especially when we're young and have limited responsibilities) enjoy working long hours on occasion.  However, we know (or quickly learn) we shouldn't do it for nothing.  Also, that the people / companies who encourage us are worse than the ones that discourage us, and the ones that get more forceful than "encourage" are not worth any respect at all.  They have less respect for me than I have for me, and I have to cut that off before it affects my perspective and I'm lost in an endless downward spiral.

(I'm currently worried about having to quit my job, a state which many people are not ethical enough to sympathize with.  I would say "or privileged enough" but my situation seems more due to discipline over the last five years and my priorities, not sheer luck.)

Can anyone tell me why I have perfectly reasonable relationships with other humans, yet find myself acting obsessive-compulsive and codependent about companies and ideas?  I get the impression I'm not the only one.

Mikayla
Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Do what you have to do.  Life is too short to be unhappy.

Kevin
Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Not refering to anyone in particular, but coould there be such a thing as a code slut?

Daniel Shchyokin
Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Surrounded by thoughtlessness, it is easy to secondguess the obvious things which go without saying.  Careful.

anon
Wednesday, February 26, 2003

> Can anyone tell me why I have perfectly
>  reasonable relationships with other
> humans, yet find myself acting
> obsessive-compulsive and codependent
> about companies and ideas?

Can't tell anything about you in particular, but it's worth noting in general the psychological research that indicates that people just out of college derive more of their self-esteem from their work and work relationships than from their intimate relationships. Only a fair number of years down the road does that balance tend to swing the other way. When your ego is tied strongly to your work, counter-productive behaviors are perhaps more likely.

Ron Burk
Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Mikayla wrote, "I would have to say there is something wrong with the theory of programmers getting bullied into working long hours.  It's more complex than that."

In most situations it is NOT more complex than that. All companies have a hierarchial power structure and in just about all of these organizations -- a programmer -- works at or close to the bottom of this power structure. You don't want to work long hours to help get a project done sooner? You don't want to come in on Saturday or the middle of the night to fix a production problem? Then don't do it. In many instances, your boss or his/her boss will simply find someone else who is willing to do so.

Like you (I think) I wish things worked differently then they do, unfortunately, we live in a very imperfect world. This (having little power or control) is one reason why so many programmers seem to be interested in starting their own consulting business.

Personally, I didn't catch the techie bug of loving what I do (coding, learning new technologies, losing track of time, etc.) until later on in my career when I moved off the mainframe.  Of course, nowadays I have a whole slew of new things that I like to bitch about besides working too much.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, February 27, 2003

The problem with the current generation of techies (me included) lets say 22-30 is that we are so used to having our butts kissed that we have never learned to negotiate. I are either macho masochists- i.e. I code 14 hours a day and love it and anyone who doesn't is a loser, or have a woe is me attitude.

I for one am learning though, for instance its 11:00 and I am at work because "something came up" but when the manager asked me If I can stay late, my first words were not an angry "no", or a "ins not fair" (which is par for the course for me when I am tired), but a firm but polite  "If do this today, you won't need me for most of tommorrow, right?", and would't ya know it, I won't have to be there till 3:00 pm tommorrow.

keep in mind:
some managers don't realize you wan't to do anything other than code.

some businesses are genuinely evil (I have worked for one) others just need you to be flexible

some managers don't even realize the hours you are working, unless you tell them.

keep your cool don't make every situation a battle of wills, make it a bargaining sessions. most managers and especially business types relate much better to that.

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 27, 2003

"Can anyone tell me why I have perfectly reasonable relationships with other humans, yet find myself acting obsessive-compulsive and codependent about companies and ideas?"

I guess you must find your own answers in this case.

But from a pragmatical perspective, Kevin is right: life is to short not to have fun.

Cheers
Dino

Dino
Thursday, February 27, 2003

"some managers don't even realize the hours you are working, unless you tell them. "

A lesson I learned the hard way.

It's 3am, you've just finished a marathon coding session and checked everything into SourceSafe. What is the absolute most important thing you can possibly do before you shut down?

Send your boss an email with the status.  The contents of the email really don't matter - you just want to "clock out" with a timestamp on the email.

I once worked four 20-hour days in a row finishing an app for a demonstration. Who got the kudos? The guy who worked until 2am one night but sent an email to his boss when he was done.

"I got your email - what were you doing here at 2am? You're the *man*!"

Philo

Philip Janus
Thursday, February 27, 2003

And regarding working long hours, IMHO it's a combination of:
1) Pride in your work
2) Seeing work as a challenge
3) The need for approval
4) Enjoying your work

I think if you don't have one of those factors, you'll clock out at 5. It's the true geeks that have the unfortunate confluence of factors that make us strive to kill ourselves in service to a goal.

Philo

Philip Janus
Thursday, February 27, 2003

You mean you don't program your computer to send an email at 2am while you are asleep in bed?

John Ridout
Thursday, February 27, 2003

I was gonna make a comment about ethics but I figured "nahhh... I don't need to...."

[grin]

Philo

Philip Janus
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Philo,

Though not having those motivations might lead one to leave at five, the argument is not reversible.

In other words, leaving at five does not prove one is not motivated.

Just thought I should mention it.

Practical Geezer
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Philo,
You should use your evil genius side and do what any self serving programmer would do, automate it. Have your app send out an email detailing what you've "done" at 2am. I bet you could randomly generate your accomplishments and it would simply be glanced at. Maybe pull your accomplishments from a dictionary of tech words and marketing fluff ;-)

Ian Stallings
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Mikayla,

If your self respect depends on how much other people respect you, then you already lost the battle. I learned after much grief and pain that I am more than another warm body in a software sweatshop, and I act accordingly. If there's nothing for me, I won't make sacrifices.

By the way, there's no such a thing as a company or an organiztion, there are groups of people that have their own agendas. So you don't work overtime for your company, you work for your manager, or for for your manager's boss, or for a group of elderly stockholders in nice bungalos in Florida. Keep that in mind when you make your decisions.

Rubin
Thursday, February 27, 2003

"You should use your evil genius side and do what any self serving programmer would do, automate it"

Do one better, deliberately find a company that monitors user activity remotely (scwab does this I believe), and use awt robot, or Visual test (comes with vs 6 I believe) to start randomly doing stuff between 5 & 9,10 pm (launch scripts, launch vs type stuff etc...)

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Hehehe..The discussions about sending emails reminded me of an Dilbert cartoon where Dilbert wants to send his boss a voice mail at 2:00 AM to let him know he is still working from home.
So he starts to leave a message with the words "It's 2:00 AM, I'm sitting here in my underwear" then decides that it sounds to weird. Instead of hitting the delete button, he accidentally sends the voice mail to the entire company directory.

Ok, it was funnier in comic strip form.

Go Linux Go!
Thursday, February 27, 2003

A culture of long hours in a company indicates (in order of precedence):

- No process.
- A management that thinks that getting its pound of flesh and seeing obvious sacrifice means that it is getting "real value".
- Stupidity at work on several levels.
Anyone that cooperates with such a regime is basically giving positive feedback to incompetent and/or abusive management.

Be like me. Resist. Live under a piece of cardboard. LOL

Seriously, resist by working smarter and more productively than the fools that are hooked into the local overwork culture.
If that doesn't work to your benefit (because, for instance, even if you produce, you are thought to be less morally upright than the posturer that runs his email script that fires off "I was here at 2:17AM messages"), then find another job with more humane goals and leave.

If nobody joins the borg collective, then there's no borg collective, right?...

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 27, 2003

> Seriously, resist by working smarter and more productively than the fools that are hooked into the local overwork culture.

Even if your produce 2x more by 5pm than other people do by working until 10pm, you still can't just walk out the door at 5pm while the rest of the team stays.  You should not be working on a team like that.    If you don't like your hours, or they dont mesh with your teams culture, you are better off leaving.  Everyone is better off that way, in fact. 

Bella
Thursday, February 27, 2003

>> Even if your produce 2x more by 5pm than other people do by working until 10pm, you still can't just walk out the door at 5pm while the rest of the team stays.  You should not be working on a team like that. 

Absolutely agreed, and I have been persona non grata in those kinds of environments. The people slaving away at all hours think they're doing a necessary sacrifice and they will automatically resent anyone that doesn't bleed like they do. In fact, the management will teach their people this stuff more or less.

A situation like that is a gross misfit of a qualified person in a sweat shop or a shop that lacks process. It's the reason I became a contractor. There's less risk in accepting the market risks than there is in trying to make my style fit a joint like that. Cash on the barrelhead, and nobody gets bent out of shape.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Good points, all, Bored. Don't forget "insufficient manpower and/or lack of priority management" - you can have all the process in the world, but if you continually bite off more than you can chew (or refuse to invest in the personnel assets to make it work) it doesn't help.

Philo

Philip Janus
Thursday, February 27, 2003

> Seriously, resist by working smarter and more productively than the fools that are hooked into the local overwork culture.



The problem with that, is there are very often interdependencies, i.e. a phone call a 10:00 pm asking what you did with ...

Daniel Shchyokin
Thursday, February 27, 2003

>>>>> Even if your produce 2x more by 5pm than other people do by working until 10pm, you still can't just walk out the door at 5pm while the rest of the team stays. <<<<<<

Yes you can and should (in fact if you're producing 2x the work you should produce 1.5x and leave at 3.30

Has it never occured to you Bella that everybody on that team is waiting for somebody to be the first to leave?

Your attitude is that of 1980's Japan where an under-employed workforce put in the longest hours in the world because nobody wanted to be the odd-man-out.

Stephen Jones
Friday, February 28, 2003

Daniel Shchyokin wrote, "there are very often interdependencies, i.e. a phone call a 10:00 pm asking what you did with ..."

If those phone calls come often, then something fundamental is broken and needs to be resolved.  Either the recipient of the phone calls is so irresponsible s/he keeps leaving important things undone and must be paged, or the project is so broken that it needs constant baby-sitting.  Either situation must be resolved now.

It's still no excuse for putting up with frequent 10:00 p.m. phone calls, or anything else that interferes with the rest of your life.  Weren't you hired to work forty hours a week?

(Obviously, this doesn't apply to someone hired to be round-the-clock tech support.)

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, February 28, 2003

<quote>
Can anyone tell me why I have perfectly reasonable relationships with other humans, yet find myself acting obsessive-compulsive and codependent about companies and ideas?  I get the impression I'm not the only one.

Mikayla
</quote>

I find it strange that I'm the first to say this, but here goes:

This is actually not the least bit unusual, in all forms of life. I recall someone else saying on another forum, "I use to have a really high and great respect for PhDs...until I worked with them more and got to know them personally." I can't count how many times I've heard that about so many different things.

Lawyers, politicians, investors, venture capitalists, CEOs, accountants, managers, companies - all these things I use to have quite a bit of excess fear and/or respect or disrespect for, but it has changed alot for one simple reason: I learned more about them, and have actually gone through enough knowledge and consideration of them to consider being one.

And in all that, my assurance that they are people, plain and simple, will not be sufficient. Your problem is not an intellectual one, bit a kind of "skill" one - you need to experience it first hand to alter your thoughts and behavior.


So here is a practical and down to earth way of fixing any excess respect, dependence, or subordination you feel to managers, executives, or just "companies" - learn more about them.

Decide that - in theory - you want to be one (or start one, in the case of a company), and then go about learning what it takes to do that.

Once you understand people better and could actually see yourself in that same situation, you can better think like they do, and then you'll be able to have a more reasonable relationship to them; if nothing else your opinion of them will be inline with reality, and thus you can more freely act to further your own rational self-interest.

If all else fails, just imagine the sick sexual, illegal things they probably fantasize about in their free time. That works too.

Brian Hall
Friday, February 28, 2003

>> Can anyone tell me why I have perfectly reasonable relationships with other humans, yet find myself acting obsessive-compulsive and codependent about companies and ideas?  I get the impression I'm not the only one.

So I'll be the second to talk about this. Dang! :-)

I'll restrict my comments to the employee-employer relationship.

I have found that most employers of technologists *want* us to personalize these technical jobs to a degree that's almost sick. Employers want us to believe that our worth as people is directly related to our level of performance in our job. Employers in IT want us to think that the damned job is our life.

Many times working for certain places I've gotten vibes that amount to school children deciding as a gang that someone deserves to be picked on and others don't. Examples: the few DOS programmers left in the company shifting to Windows, or business analysts vs. coders, or application developers vs. the bitheads that write OS and driver layer stuff for a new product.

The thing is, this kind of hostile, evil and infantile rivalry is often promoted by managements as a sort of sieve to filter out the "weak" performers and to create an internal atmosphere of bullshit "competition". This is on top of the existing pressure to internalize the company's standards as some sort of referendum on our own worth as people.
This mentality pervades the one sided "employment contract" that most of us enter into, down to the stupid periodic personnel reviews that do nothing but slam someone who is a high achiever in their work because they don't meet a vapid Dale Carnegie standard for being a "people person".

Lastly - if you want to be employed in the private sector, there is *NO WAY* to escape this kind of degrading manipulation. If you say "yeah right" you'll "hit the bricks, pal."

This whole scene is another of HR Block's 9,396,223,122 reasons to tell employers to get bent, stick it up their asses, and be a contractor.

Bored Bystander
Friday, February 28, 2003

The attitude Bored Bystander is referring to happens in all fields, not just technology.

I suspect that IT companies have been able to get away with it for longer because they used to pay so much.

The original posters  "obsessive-compulsive and codependent" attitude is more due to the fact that when one is a student one views one's worth by one's acheivments, and is interested in knowledge for its own sake. This attitude carries on to the workplace.

Stephen Jones
Friday, February 28, 2003

Bored Bystander wrote, "Employers want us to believe that our worth as people is directly related to our level of performance in our job. Employers in IT want us to think that the damned job is our life."

*Some* employers.

I've had employers in IT who did not have this perspective, and in fact, were strongly opposed to it.  Everyone worked 40 hours, then went home, and management was perfectly happy.

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, February 28, 2003

Ok, I'll clarify. My home base and metro area isn't coastal nor tech belt. So programmers and "deeper" technology people in my area - you know, the defenseless and sharp MENSA types that get the tar beat out of them on the public playground as children -  tend to feel lucky to get *any* job above maintenance or QA, and employers won't pay much here because they don't have to.  And so the employers here tend to foster little inbred cargo cults to justify the overwork & underpay.


In response to the comment that the intensity was purchased with high salaries - NOPE. In the local area I've typically seen the poorest paid developers to be made or pressured to work the longest hours. The ones like me that draw a distinct line around our personal lives and commitments are paid more.


I've seen, for instance, a place here that was a startup that hired a bunch of (unemployed) embedded people to do firmware for a RISC based board family that drove high speed ink jet printers. This place's culture was such that you came to work in the morning, and you were expected to work until the owner and his wife said you could leave, say 10-11 PM. They would call out for take out so nobody "had to" leave. And they had futons and mattresses around the place to "encourage" people to pull all nighters.


Actually that was one of the jobs that my hapless pal "R" (from the 'persecuted out of thread') had held in  the early 90s. After a couple of weeks of this Jonestown like software cult, he just decided that he wasn't going to work there anymore, and he called them and told them so. They were actually amazed. Of course they promised him the moon if he would only donate the standard package (an eye, a kidney, and a testicle - LOL).

I tend to think that I have witnessed more outright abuse than most IT people in other parts of the country...

Bored Bystander
Saturday, March 01, 2003

Regarding all this talk about programmers being geeks as kids, and having low self-esteems as adults...I don't buy it. 

During the boom, programmers became pretty damn confident in their marketability, and were demanding top dollar, and didn't hesitate to walk out the door if conditions didn't satisfy them.  Hell, do you remember the "massages, foosball tables, and pets to work"?  These are hardly a by-product of meek, docile, exploited drones.  In fact, that indicated the rampant overblown self-aggrandizing.

In a soft job market , workers in general may be taken advantage of, and given a bigger workload, not just programmers.

Bella
Sunday, March 02, 2003

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