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All foreigners rise early

In treads on the bless or doom of outsourcing to lower cost countries, an argument that is often used is the problem of the different timezones involved. Yet looking around me, I'd say more programmers fall into the "night owl" category rather than the "early bird" section.
In that case would an outsourcing firm in Russia that is focussed 100% on US work realy have a problem finding guys working the night shift, thereby eliminating the asynchronity such as described in http://discuss.fogcreek.com/newyork/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=242 ? Or can we assume that the software industry outside of the US is stricktly a 9-5 excercise?

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, March 10, 2003

I thought that was just a Seattle thing - something about the sun never shining anyway 9 months of the year.

But it seems that most developers do not show up until 10 AM (pacific time) or later.  This tends to aggravate problems of communication with the east coast since we're already 3 hours behind.

My best hours are in the morning - maybe that's because no one else is here.  I don't know...

Nat Ersoz
Monday, March 10, 2003

I'm just across the pond in england but I get up late too.  I also find that working later is more productive for me.

Colin Newell
Monday, March 10, 2003

I used to code into the late hours of the night but now I like to get up and come in early just so I can beat the traffic (3hours+ every day) and take off early and go fishing. Or I sometimes come in after fishing before dawn ;-)

I found that when I worked late at the office I tended to drag ass toward the end of the day and found myself constantly checking the clock, reading forums such as this, and generally avoiding work. When I get here early my mind seems a little more fresh and I can get some things done before others show up.

Ian Stallings
Monday, March 10, 2003

Depends entirely on personality.

There are people who are at their best early in the morning and those who are at their best late at night.

If you get a night owl who needs to communicate with an early bird then there is probably only a one or two hour windiow when neither of them is past it.

Indians would I suspect be used to day working, simply because of the social structure, but that would be more convention and crowded living conditions than choice.

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 10, 2003

Sir said...

'Yet looking around me, I'd say more programmers fall into the "night owl" category rather than the "early bird" section.'

This is an over generalization which could be or not be true.... I come in at 6:30 am and try to leave around 4:00 - 6:00.  I find that 50% of my co-workers come in at 9:00 am or earlier.

Do the other 50% stay until 7:00 Pm or 8:00 PM ?  I don't know, nor care...

The fact is that if you need to talk to someone in another time zone, you will try to setup a time which is mutually convenient to both parties....

This is California and people in this bussiness get up early to talk to Europe and stay up late to talk to Asia .  It is just a matter of juggling your schedule....

Paul B
Monday, March 10, 2003

I'm an early person. Most of the developers I've worked with are late persons.  Either way, being in your optimal state while there are fewer people around to interrupt is the only way to go.

Being an early, Ive always had more interaction with East Coast and Europe. But the late folks here interact more with India. And on a recent business trip to India, I observed that everyone in Inida on average works a much later shft than here.

I don't know how the distribution works out for optimizing communications but I'd rather come in even earlier than a little later.

And then there's Texas time....

fool for python
Monday, March 10, 2003

It also depends on the market habits. Here in Mexico City, the software development industry has adopted a generalized belief that a developer that doesn't work untill 9:00 or 10:0 pm is just not working enough.

All software consulting firms hire programmers on a 'must be result oriented' basis. No matter how ridiculous the deadlines are, you should work to death to get the work done.

The bad side of the story is that consulting firms have to sell 80-hours programmer weeks to be competitive and get projects sold, so the bad habits keep on and on.

Developers, on their side, tend to balance the sitation getting to the office as late as they can. If you come to my office at 10:00 am you won't find anyone from development. Everybody arrives more towards 11:00 am or often later.

So, no. Outside US software development is not sctrictly from 9 to 5.

sergio acosta
Monday, March 10, 2003

We've done 'outsourced' work for years, and the meetings are easy - the one paying picks the schedule : ). For some jobs we work the nightshift so work can get ping-ponged during the day, other times we do the day shift. I've never saw the time difference thing was anything but a benefit, for the customer anyway..

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 10, 2003

There's no big difference between programmer working hours (or between development methodologies) in the US and Russia. In this regard, there's not that much cultural difference between these countires.

The difference is that the companies doing off-shore type of development there got used to adjust their working hours, according tho the time zone difference. So, my guess is -- it's possible to find programmers willing to work night shifts there.

raindog
Monday, March 10, 2003

All that was stated above is valid for Brazil. I've seen people working during the night for Korean and Japanese clients, and I didn't mind at all arriving a little later to accomodate the small difference between Brazilian and US East Coast time for a year-long Java project.

One interesting phenomenon I noticed is that most small, loosely structured teams prefer arriving late (around 10 am)and sometimes burning the midnight oil, while large, highly organized teams (specially ABAPers) stick to business hours (9 to 6, here) and they seem to actually like it.

Come to think of it, Sergio brought a very interesting issue. Some programmers arrive late because they tend to play chicken in the evening until someone gives up and goes home to sleep. On the other hand, some people simply feel more productive at night and resent having to leave just when they are at their peak performance.

I hope I didn't get too much sidetracked.

Marcos M. Rubinelli
Monday, March 10, 2003

This might be interesting:

There are some small companies in India , who have three - 8 hour shifts everyday, this drastically reduces infrastructure costs.

It has disadvs too, but that is a diff story.

Prakash S
Monday, March 10, 2003

I wonder if in countries such as Russia, Germany, Mexico etc.. If when they see an American, do they refer to them as a 'foreigner'?

Floppy Disk Drives Are Outdated
Monday, March 10, 2003

Only if they are speaking english!

Robin Debreuil
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Your answers seem to confirm my suspicion that the big "timezone differences dramaticaly slow down communications in oversees outsourcing" issue is in reality basically nothing but a myth.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

as a 'foreigner' in a foreign country (sweden), I marvel at the hours people claim to work!  10 hour days?  More?  80 hour weeks?

Here in Sweden overtime is rare, and it is rarely needed.  Yet I do have visibility of the work of many American-based offices run in the American way, so I feel quite safe in assuring everyone that a Swedish office is no less productive than an American one.

So do long hours actually contribute to amount of real work you do, or is it a ploy to deceive clueless management?

Will
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Will, you shouldn't have said that. You'll be branded a european latte sipping liberal socialist by this board's resident right wing whiners


Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I don't think that the outsourcing timezone problem is a myth.  The timezone problem combines with communication restrictions to create the fundamental problem.

If your co-worker is in the same building and works different hours, that's OK; you can still communicate easily for part of the workday.

If your co-worker is not in the same building but works the same hours, that's OK; you can still contact him or her any time you're at work.

But if your co-worker is not in the same buliding *and* works different hours, it's quite difficult to communicate effectively.  I think that that's the real timezone problem.

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Novosibirsk offshore companies usually start their work at  12-13 PM, so they have some time in the evening to sync with their US partners.
So we get up late.

Slava
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

One advantage I find with being separate is that it requires you do have 'good practices' - it requires a plan that is effectively communicated at the outset, it requires very modular tasks. You write down (as opposed to mention) issues and go over them regularily, often by email where you have a record. When working in the same office its easier to get away with being sloppy, which is a bad thing.

The switch from central time to china time really has changed almost nothing. Often clients ask if we are still here in fact.

Robin Debreuil
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

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