Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Does your employer mandate your hours?

I started to post this as a comment to an earlier topic, but it was more general than the original topic, so I decided to hoist it to top level.

I'm curious: Do a lot of employers mandate specific hours?  Most of my experience is with Silicon Valley companies, where my employers haven't cared much at all what time or how much I'm at work as long as the job is getting done.  It seems obvious to me that this is the only model that makes any sense, but I know it is far from universal.

On the other hand, I worked very briefly at an East-coast company who mandated 9 to 5.  Occasionally I would skip out early, and I'd find pissy post-its on my screen the next morning like, "It's 4:00.  Where are you?"  I didn't stay long after that.

So: What is the more common model?  Is this more or less an East-coast/West-coast thing?  Don't the hour-mandating companies realize that you'll have much better employees if you trust them to do their jobs and let them do so when they wish?  (One of the best coders I've ever known couldn't drag himself into work until near noon most days, but he stayed well toward midnight most nights and he was  really productive.  Making him work 9 to 5 would've cut his productivity by at least 50%, not to mention his actual work hours by at least 1/3.)

Joe Ganley
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Camel fired me for not keeping their mandated hours (be in the office by 9:30). This was while I was an independent contractor.

A previous employer also "suggested" I try to be in the office before 10am, while I was an independent contractor.

The Navy also had some kind of weird thing about working hours...

Microsoft, however, just wants the work done and scheduled meetings attended.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

we have recommended hours. i actually like concept of getting up every morning and going to the office to work. i might not always like what happens, but it's a nice dream ...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I pretty much  work 7:50- 5 - I like getting up and getting done early.

That said, my big boss, the CFO, wanders the office and makes sure everyone is in their seats. Just like the 4th grade.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Can't wait to read muppets predictable comments on this topic...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I can pretty much come and go as I please. Today I left at around noon to take care of personal stuff. My boss doesn't care as long as I get the work done.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

We generally have to be around from 9 - 4, with some exceptions.

Working long hours is usually discouraged, since it doesn't seem to lead to as much productivity increase as one might think. As well, I've seen it promote more procrastination than necessary (Yeah, let's go drinking, I'll just work till 4 am tomorrow morning to get it done ;-) ).

The telecommuting thing has been tried; that didn't lead to anything worth promoting.

Yes, there are exceptions; I'm talking broad strokes here.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I get both.  I have to be at work by 9, but can leave whenever (well, whenever after lunch anyway), as long as the work is getting done.

Greg Hurlman
Thursday, August 19, 2004

At my current company we have fairly flexible hours and it's a fairly conservative financial services company.  We have a guy who comes in around 6am and leaves at 2pm and another who comes in around 11am and leaves around 7pm.  Most people come in between 9 and 10 and leave between 5 and 6.

I don't think I could work anywhere that didn't have at least that level of flexibility.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

My boss is obsessive about coming in on time. She has no idea what I do all day or how I use my time, but heaven help me if my butt isn't in my seat at 8:30. If you dare to suggest that coming on time isn't all that important since you make up the time anyway you get stock speach #12 about how she always came to work on time even when she was a single mother with two young children.

I once managed a a group of engineers who liked to work late hours. They would come in at 10 or so and then work till the wee hours of the night/morning. They liked the quiet at night, and since the work got done and they were in during most of the day, I took no issue with their hours.

Then a funny thing happened. They started coming in later, and staying later. I was getting in at around 6:30 AM back then and I would see them just leaving for the day. The process continued until they found themselves keeping normal daytime hours again.

At least for a couple of weeks. :)

The Mad Hungarian
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Current place wigged out anytime I arrived after 8 am. Since I now am travelling via public transport, the last bus of the morning will get me to the office at 0730. Since there are 3 busses I can utilize, they get me to the office between 0630 and 0730. The only time I called in because I overslept, word got back to me that one of the co-owners said something like: "if I took that call, the only question I would have for him is where does he want his final check sent." Sounds like it is time for a new job.

A previous place I worked at was run by an old ex-army guy who believed that if you were not in the office by 0730, you were late, no matter what your scheduled hours were. Watching what went on, since he claimed to be in the office by 0500, he got nothing done in the first 2h 30m each day. But by god, you better be there or else. All meetings were scheduled for 0700 (during which nothing got done except moaning about coffee).

Most places I have worked at were looking for 0830 to 0900 for arrival times. One was very flexible, since we had to support a call center and network center which were open from 0700 to 2100, one of my group liked early mornings, so he was there by 7am, I prefer afternoons, so I arrived at 1100 and left at 2200.

Hint: if they mandate your hours, you cannot be an "independant contractor." That is one rule that will cause you and your employer to fail an IRS audit, should the matter arise.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

8 to 5 with an hour for lunch between 12 and 1... I kid you not.  Fortunately, I no longer work there!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I'm not certain what "independant contranter" precisely means, but I've worked as a contracter where the hours were set between 7:00 and 18:00. You could work whatever hours you wanted inside that.

To be fair, it wasn't their requirement, but a by-product of their Top-Secret work. There was a few exceptions, but that was usually reserved for upper management due to the security headaches involved.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Might help if I could spell contractor though.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Wow.  How does anyone who isn't a morning person last year after year at jobs that require an exact on-time early AM presence?

I was fired from my first real job at the age of 20 for arriving at 8:05 for five days straight, instead of 8 am.

Thank goodness that happened to me early.  Ever since then, I've gotten that issue out of the way:  I'm never going to be a regular, early bird worker bee and I let my employer know that.

My work zone goes in streaks anyway.  I worked 20 hours straight yesterday because it was going good.  I didn't do anything today and I worked from home.  I may never have it this good again, but I won't ever work a job that doesn't allow me to be at my best.

Friday, August 20, 2004

"How does anyone who isn't a morning person last year after year at jobs that require an exact on-time early AM presence?"

By becoming a morning person, perhaps?  At the place where I work now, we can do just about any hours from 6:30a-3:30p to 9a-6p, just so long as we get our 40 in.  I've never been a morning person, but going in at 7, I've found that I can get a lot done before other people get to the office and start yakking.

Of course, if I worked late hours the office would be just as quiet at the end of the day.  But as the day goes on, my will to work ebbs, and that last hour or so is very nonproductive.  Starting early has the incentive that even in the winter it'll still be light out when I get done.

One thing that really helps wake you up for a morning job is a bicycle commute, if you have the necessary conditions for it.

Friday, August 20, 2004

"By becoming a morning person, perhaps?


But as the day goes on, my will to work ebbs, and that last hour or so is very nonproductive. "

Perhaps you could change YOURself by becoming someone who doesn't need a push to become productive.

Sorry to be snide, but...I find it nauseating that people are willing to change their whole being by giving up so much to their employer, who could easily hack off your head (assuming you are American).

I value my morning time.  I only sleep well between the hours of  2am and 7am, and I'm not willing to give up not having to punch an alarm clock.

By insisting that my life run the way I want it, I get more out of it.  Sleeping in means I'm a nicer person throughout the day. 

Of course, I didn't complicate my life by having children.  This way, I can tell people to kiss off at will.  I value that more than anything in the world.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Should an employer mandate set hours?

It isn't an easy 'yes-no' answer... do you want the operators at the local nuclear plant all checking out early because 'things seem to be running smoothly' and they don't think they have more work to do?

Likewise why does some back office drone have to clock 9-5 if the poor stiff has been done for two hours already?

People (and I include managers as 'people'... usually anyway) have to use common sense here... or at least should try to use common sense.

Wacky midwestern guy
Friday, August 20, 2004

Can I ask the question, does anyone prefer set hours? I ask because it seems a good deal of people work to them.

I for one struggle with them so badly.

I love getting to work early in the morning, in summer I have been known to be at work before 5am (admittedly I lived a 10min walk from work). Yet I am stepping out the door as the clock hits 5.00pm I just want to leave as soon as I am allowed. Unless I am enjoying a task and have forgotten the time (rare that anything is that much more exciting then being home), my productivity hits zero about 4pm.

Aussie chick
Friday, August 20, 2004

I prefer set hours.

Realistically, I'm not interested in being at work past 5.  I like the day, I like to go outside. 

I basically just like to get to work as soon as I'm awake.  That means wake up at 6-6:30, at work 7-7:30, home by 6.

There simply aren't that many more hours in the day where I can produce.

Friday, August 20, 2004

My job requires me to report by 8.30am. My bosses don't hang me or send stick post-it notes on my 'puter for being late. BUT whenever they get the chance, they would take turns to wag their fingers at me and pass reprimanding statements in department meetings where the whole team is present.

It doesn't matter if I have delivered outstanding work, or generated $xxx millions for the company, or stayed back past midnight or worked the whole weekend for them. They just want me to be in the office *before they do* - every single work day. My immediate sup sticks her head into my cube to see if I'm around as she walks past.

I once worked till 3am and got busted in front of all my co-workers for not being back in office by 8.30am.

Now, how does one get one of those jobs with flexi hours?

Friday, August 20, 2004

When I joined we had to be here starting at 9am.  Then we got a new management team (or rather existng one was let go and a current manager stepped up into the head of engineering position).  He mandated be in by at least 10 am.  Then he quit and we got a new head President of this branch and he mandated be in by 9am.

It's amazing how people that know nothing about the egineering process or company life think they can improve worker productivity by having everyone here at 9:01am.  It's a joke.  It's an insult.

Why do people say make "yourself a morning person".  Why don't they say "I'll make a myslef a night person"?  The reason?  Tolerance and ignorance.  They have none and they have a lot.  They want things done their way if if it hurts.

I would easily feel good about coming in a 9am if I knew the head of engineering had read peopleware and disagreed with it, but when I ask him about it he says, "What is that?  Software?  I just need everyone to be here an working at 9am".

Friday, August 20, 2004

My experience is that large non IT corporations tend to be real sticklers when it comes to mandated hours. Whenever, you start a new job or find yourself reporting to a new manager you should always ask about flex time and whether a "core hours" policy is going to be enforced.

While I believe that most good programmers truly are special snowflakes and software development/maintenance work is very different from what a typical office worker does on daily basis, most managers don't seem to agree with this POV.

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, August 20, 2004

I worked in a place that had flextime and core hours.

The core hours were 8:30am to 7pm. They were flexible about whether or not you wanted to show up at 7am or leave at 9pm in addition to that.

I usually showed up around 9:30-10:00am and snuck out of the office at 8:00-8;30pm.

Those were the days. I never got anything done, but boy did I work a lot of hours. I also always felt like I was cheating the company by surfing mindlessly.

What really sucked was that I was forced to work off of a server that was always put to some other use until 4pm, so I couldn't start work until 4pm. I'd complained about this a few times, but nothing was ever done about it.

Real flextime: Better.
Work any hours as long as you get things done: Best.
Friday, August 20, 2004

Oh, and did I mention the 9am on Monday weekly meetings, or the 5pm status update meetings and the "Who wants to work on the weekend" Friday evening crap we had to go through?
Friday, August 20, 2004


"The only time I called in because I overslept,"

You NEVER oversleep. You can wake up with a sore throat, stomach flu, etc. and then show up a few hours later after the DayQuil, Vicks, {insert Over The Counter medicine here} kicks in... but you NEVER oversleep.

I thought they taught that implicitly in college :)

But talk about overreaction on the part of the owner... you have my condolences...

Friday, August 20, 2004

> if you were not in the office by 0730, you were late

7:30? AM?! I do remember once hearing of that time of day, but assumed it was a myth.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I've worked in all three environments - set your own hours, flexitime, and - currently - incredibly anal be-on-time-or-else.

It's definitely a cultural thing for the employer. It's not just large companies that are fixed hours freaks, though. My current employer is a 25-man company and 3 minutes late is considered 'properly' late and will probably get you a lecture.

Had you asked me a year ago, I'd have said I prefer to set my own hours, no question. Now I'm not so sure. I'm definitely not a morning person, but there is something to be said for consistency of hours - it certainly has helped to fix my sleeping pattern, which used to be all over the place.

There are advantages to fixed hours beyond keeping your life consistent, too - the team is all in at the same time, so communication is better; the non-techies are all in at the same time, so PMs and PHBs prefer it; and of course your clients are going to be around during normal hours and will be annoyed if they find they can't call you because you don't start work until they go home.

One thing which does amaze me is the (not uniquely, but mostly) American predeliction for starting work so damn early. In the UK, the vast majority of offices don't start work until 0900 or 0930. The idea of having a mandated 0830, or worse, 0730 start seems a bit perverse - you'd need to be going to bed at 8 or 9pm just to get enough sleep... personally I rarely go to bed before 1am as I just can't sleep any earlier.

But then I guess it's the same cultural difference that means US employers get away with only offering 5 days paid holiday a year, when UK employers have to give a minimum of 20 (plus official bank holidays etc), and the whole 'at will' thing which means your employment is never truly protected no matter how long you work at the same company. Over here, if you've worked full time for an employer for 2 years your employment is protected and you can't just be dismissed for no reason - and if you're being let go because your job is redundant they at least have to pay you something. OTOH, too much regulation can certainly be a bad thing :-)

Neil Hewitt
Friday, August 20, 2004

Yes - 9.30-5.30 (although they don't quibble about a few minutes either way).  I get to choose when I take my 28 days holiday though.  Other than that I agree with Neil - you poor workaholic buggers...

a cynic writes...
Friday, August 20, 2004

We all just need a good dose of Gene Therapy


"The monkeys became extreme workaholics, as evidenced by a sustained low rate of errors in performing the experimental task, irrespective of how distant the reward might be," said Richmond. "This was conspicuously out-of-character for these animals. Like people, they tend to procrastinate when they know they will have to do more work before getting a reward."
Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm a independent contractor at a smallish (100) person company in the midwest.  I'll generally work 7AM-4PM and eat at my desk 3 days a week or so.

EVERYONE there (CEO to grounds people) work the same hours but also take 12N-1PM for lunch.  I kid you not - in almost 4 years I can think of two times when I saw someone in the building between noon and 1 or after 4.  The people line up in the parking lot before 7AM and won't walk into the building until the clock inside the door strikes 7.  This includes the CEO and all senior management.  There's a line at the door at noon and a line again at 1PM.
I routinely get stared at in shock when I leave at 11:45 for my run to the border and then come walking back in at 11:55 with my tacos while everyone is lining up in the hall. 

Nobody seems to mind that their business shuts down for an hour each day.  They operate a large call center servicing several time zones - at lunch the phones go unanswered.

The funniest things?  For lunch most people go sit in their cars in the parking lot.  Don't even drive to the park or anything.  In fact they invite people over to their car for lunch.  Weirdest thing I've ever seen.

They get a new UPS unit for the data center.  Requires power to be shut off for a few hours to install.  I'd schedule that during off hours.  When do they do it?  10AM Monday.  The entire company sits around for hours with nothing to do because the systems are down.  In fact, at one point they jacked something up and cut the power to the entire building.  People just sat at their desks staring into darkness.  At 11:55AM the lineup to the parking lot began.

Despite that, they're HIGHLY profitable.

Seen it all....
Friday, August 20, 2004

I don't care as long as the work is done. I expect people to work their contracted hours over a month but within that I really have no issue with when people work. We have suggested minimum hours, so if you are coming in at all, you need to be available 10-12 and 2-4 so that there is always a slot for meetings. Some meetings are also mandatory. If you want a day off you have to book it. Some people start late and work into the evening and some people start really early.

It's important that people are comfortable with their hours.

In my first job everyone was expected to be in place by eight thirty. Everyone turned up at the same time. Security was a crush. The carpark was a crush. The coffee machines were overloaded. The worst part was if I had a slow day, or if I was feeling fallow, I ended up clockwatching. Now, If my brain runs out of juice, I can just leave. It makes productivity much higher.

Friday, August 20, 2004

It does seem a very European thing to start late. ie restaurants don't open until 9pm that sort of thing.

I imagine Australia is more like the US in that regard. I prefer an early start because I get home earlier. Dinner is over and done by 7pm and most restaurant kitchens are closed by 10pm.

Aussie chick
Friday, August 20, 2004

What part of Australia do you live in? Here in Perth people start between 8-9pm and resturants are open till well into the wee small hours.

Matthew Lock
Friday, August 20, 2004

8-9pm I wish! I mean 8-9am.

Matthew Lock
Friday, August 20, 2004

What time sun goes down has a big effect on what time things happen. Where I am (Queensland) the sun goes down between 5 and 6pm.

I just got back from Paris and at the moment the sun goes down at around 10pm. So you don't eat until 9 - 10pm and don't start partying until midnight.

Rhys Keepence
Friday, August 20, 2004

I was working as a full time employee at a software shop, and had an employee review.

There was a scale of 0-5.

One of the questions had to do with 'availability', meaning how many hours were you at work.

I was very productive, and at the time was working ~55 hours a week, first one in, last one out.

They gave me a 3.

Needless to say, after that, I worked only 40, and had a started a new job in 3 weeks.

Friday, August 20, 2004

"Wow.  How does anyone who isn't a morning person last year after year at jobs that require an exact on-time early AM presence?"

That's easy.  I rarely got up before 11 during my college days (only had one class before 11 during my entire college career - go me), but had to be at my first internship every day by 8am.

It was then that I discovered that coffee is actually a good thing, if taken in appropriate (see also: largest cup possible) doses.

Greg Hurlman
Friday, August 20, 2004

"Core hours"--and the "face time" philosophy in general--is nothing but a cargo cult.  It falls into the same category as overtime in the political spectrum.

People work overtime, generally, not to actually produce but to cover their asses and look like they're absolutely committed to the team.  It's an exercise in visible, virtuous self-sacrifice.

Core hours are much the same.  They are the assignment of virtue to arbitrary punctuality.  One who respects the core hours is the consummate team player, willing to synchronize himself with the time (and therefore the goals!) of the company.

Everyone should realize that no hours on a clock are more virtuous than others.  The company's heartbeat is its profit and loss cycle, not some political circadian rhythm.

And, as (I think) Philo and others have discovered, another purpose of core hour rules is to give managers a convienent excuse to shaft others.  Nevermind a fair and honest evaluation; "he didn't come in on time" is rather straightforward.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Thanks for your responses, everyone.  Yikes.  I'll be sure to ask about this during/before any future interviews.

What strikes me, as many of you have commented, is how plainly (to me) stupid this is.  At that heinous 8-to-5 company where I briefly worked, you better believe that I was out the door at 5:00 sharp, even if I was in the middle of a thought, even if I was on a roll and would have had two or three more hours of work in me that day.  And the extra two hours of work I currently do at home after the kids go to bed?  Forget it.  Developers know when they perform best, and making them work elsewhen makes them doubly unproductive because they're at off-peak performance *and* they're unhappy.

So dumb.

BTW, I should've mentioned that I meant software development, not jobs where your schedule is tied to someone else's (e.g. customers).  And I also understand that in some places hours are mandated by security/clearance/contract issues.

Joe Ganley
Friday, August 20, 2004

PopCulture, the alarm clock either did not go off, or I slept through the honking noise of it. That is how I overslept that one case.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Joe, you obviously weren't forced to sign the contract I was forced to sign just before the 'culture shift' that said:

1. The company can fire me at any time for any reason.
2. I must be available at a moment's notice any time night or day.

One guy at the office had to quit his part time gig as a volunteer firefighter because of it. I already told you about the 5:00 status meetings and the server that wasn't available until 4pm...
Friday, August 20, 2004

Funny, when I espouse these sorts of ideas.. people get the pitchforks out.  :)

Friday, August 20, 2004

I haven't had mandated hours at either of my last two jobs, which was good for me.

Not having mandated hours is good for the employees, but can be a bit of a problem for the company itself.  In both jobs, there have been a lot of people who have used the flexibility to work fewer hours than was required by the employer.  I'm not talking about an hour here or there, I'm talking about literally HUNDREDS of hours per year.  In both cases (so far), no one has even been reprimanded for it, but it has become a bit of a sore spot for those of us who do play by the rules.

Jack B. Nimble
Friday, August 20, 2004

First up: my preference is core hours with flex-time on either side.

But one thing I think is missing is this discussion is that it isn't always about the productivity of individuals, but rather about the productivity of the team as a whole. Sure, it can be a power play or anal-retentiveness, but it can also be a sincere effort to try and keep the work *as a whole* moving forward well. As individual contributors we worry (quite rightly) about our individual productivity and chafe over seeming impediments. But again, maximizing the output of each individula is not the same thing as maximizing the output of a team.

Jeff Kotula
Friday, August 20, 2004

We try to keep people here from 8am to 5pm, with an hour for lunch between 12 and 1.  If you need like an hour off to go run an errand, no one says anything.

Those times aren't religiously enforced.  Some people come in at 7:30.  Some come in at 8:30.  Some people leave right at 5.  Some stay until 6ish.

I agree there should be some flexibility (if someone comes in 15-20 minutes late, it's ok as long as the work gets done).  However, I do not approve of letting people come in whenever they want.

I've found that it leads to a major lack of discipline.  Once the lines become blurred between when they should show up and leave, it gets blurred for other things.  Before long, you have programmers doing nothing but browsing the web all day with the attitude "I'll just stay all night to get it done".

On top of that, random work hours tend to adversely affect the social life of the employee.  They can put huge strains on a relationship.  This leads to an unhappy (less productive) employee.

Part of being a good employee is discipline.  Discipline to comment your code.  Discipline to use source control.  Discipline to to actually spend some time making the code neat and modular.

I like sleeping in as much as the next guy.  I sleep in until noon every weekend.  But if you can't discipline yourself enough to wake up every morning and come to work at a reasonable hour, then you're not disciplined enough to be a good employee.

I'm not saying you have to be here at exactly 8am, but if you start showing up more than an hour late, I start to become concerned.

(I'm sure at least someone will flame me for this)

Myron A. Semack
Friday, August 20, 2004

"But again, maximizing the output of each individula is not the same thing as maximizing the output of a team."

Fair enough, but if there truly is a hit to team output because people can't call an on-demand meeting at 9:02am or 4:57pm, then something is fundamentally broken in the team to begin with (i.e. it's a red herring). The "doing what's best for the whole" has been used to justify all sorts of self-destructive policies (take a look at communism).

Dennis Forbes
Friday, August 20, 2004

I don't realy have a preference,  but I do have my requirements.

If its a mandatory set hours, then the amount  of time I spend working will match the schedule to the minute.

The opposite is also holds, If they're flexible, then so am I.

I if have to give  up my personal time, then they can give up work hours. I usualy have no problem working late into the nite. But if I work till 2-3am, don't expect me to be at my desk exactly at 8am.

As a salaried employee, there really is no incentive to work beyond the standard 40 hrs unless there is some extra reward. I know keeping my job should be reward itself. But if my effective hourly rate goes down, then what's the point?

Friday, August 20, 2004

"But if you can't discipline yourself enough to wake up every morning and come to work at a reasonable hour, then you're not disciplined enough to be a good employee."

You've taken the classic mistaken approach of presuming that flexible hours means lack of discipline, which is entirely missing the point. Someone may choose to work 11-7 because they got up at 6 and went to the gym, got their grocery shopping done when the aisles are empty and the shelves are stocked, and then commuted on the beautifully empty highway where they'll have ample time to meet with business partners and codevelopers, and then enjoy a quiet workplace for some highly productive output. For a similar reason other people opt to work 7-3 (are they the "super disciplined"?). In any case the only way to measure the productivity of software developers is output, and if you don't have awareness of that and instead substitute sneaking around and peeking at what they're doing (or proxy servers or punching the time clock when they arrive in leave) then you _are_ being screwed - that method of management virtually guarantees sloth.

Flexible time has to do with optimizing one's life, not about sleeping in.

One sidenote - Homorous when shops decree that people work 9 hours, with a mandatory 1 hour unpaid lunch.

Dennis Forbes
Friday, August 20, 2004


Undisciplined because of flex time?  Gimme a break.

How stupid is it that corporate America hits the roads at the same time, driving on crowded highways, stressing out?

Stupid. If everyone had flex time and used it, the "market" for expressways would solve itself.

I sleep til 7:00am, go to the gym, shower, change, grab my laptop and ride my bike 8 miles to work, in my office by 9:30-9:45 most days.  I work until around 6:15-6:30, ride my bike home, or during inclement weather, I take a NON-CROWDED train. 

Anyone who says I'm undisciplined doesn't know me. Yes, if you hire a bunch of immature hacks who TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU, YOU DESERVE IT.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I made no such mistake.  Someone who's not disciplined enough to wake himself up in the morning is NOT disciplined enought to be a good employee.

I find it no coincidence that the people who have the hardest time making it here in the morning are also the worst performers.  They are always the ones with the sloppiest code.  And yes, I do review everyone's code.

Also, I NEVER said people who work 7-3 are super disciplined.

Myron A. Semack
Friday, August 20, 2004

"Someone who's not disciplined enough to wake himself up in the morning is NOT disciplined enought to be a good employee."

Well, let's be clear, then.  I never said I can't wake up.  I won't.

Not for an asshole boss, not for anyone, unless *I* want to.

My life, my rules.  I work for people appreciate my talents and will not try to pigeonhole me based on some ridiculous, mythical Puritan work ethic that other more reasonable western cultures dismiss.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I've always been a night person, not a morning person. I've worked many jobs that said I had to be in by 8 or 9. I've usually shown up late. I have a very difficult time making it anywhere by 8 or 9. And I'm not productive in the morning AT all. I hate traffic and rush hour and that makes it even more difficult Jobs that have disciplined me and told me to show up at the mandated 8 o 9 start time, I've made an effort to comply. It usually doesn't last and I've been disciplined again. A few companies turned a blind eye because I was the person who put in the MOST hours of anyone and got more done than all of the loyal 9-5ers.  I was also the one who they asked to come in on weekends and I did it. I was the one who came in super early (5 a.m.) on the days when they launched some new application and had last minute freak-outs. I was also the one with the pager who they called when something went wrong and I always went in.  I just have a tough time with 8 and 9 start times. I also have a tough time with 5 o'clock quitting times. They don't suit me.

Now I work for myself. Some days I start at about 8:30. Other days I start at 9:30 or 10. Some days I work till 2 or 3 the next morning. I rarely take off in the middle of the day when I'm busy. If things are slow, I like to get outside and enjoy life when it's sunny for a few hours. I work really hard. I'm very productive in the afternoon, evening and even night hours.  When I'm onto something, I like to roll with it. I work on weekends. I don't like having set "work" days and set "play" days. That depresses me and makes me hate Sundays because the next day is Monday. 

My code has never been sloppy. I'm not a sloppy person. My code has always been some of the cleanest and organized. My previous bosses always complimented me on my work ethic and said I did the work of 2 people. "If Neo could only make it in on time .." was usually the only complaint.  Progressive companies promoted me and I spent a good deal of time as a supervisor/manager. I never judged anyone under me by their punctuality. However, I did look at total time worked. If they came in at 9:30 and left at 4:30 we had a problem.

Trying to make me a 9-5er is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I resent anyone's remarks who thinks that means I'm not a good performer or that I'm sloppy.  I'm an excellent performer and I'm not one bit sloppy.

To the person who said all that, I think you should stop judging everyone by the same standards and look at each person's individual qualities. In my opinion, that makes a good manager.

Friday, August 20, 2004

"Part of being a good employee is discipline.  Discipline to comment your code.  Discipline to use source control.  Discipline to to actually spend some time making the code neat and modular."

What a bunch of parochial bullshit.  Sorry to flame. :)

The term you're looking for is self-discipline, not discipline per se.  You're describing a sort of parental discipline, the carrot and the stick.

We're all (for the most part) adults here, in the working world.  We do not need to be mommied and daddied.  If you think discipline should be externally imposed, then you may also be led to the conclusion that we should all code with a monitor constantly looking over our shoulders to ensure quality.

Let's dispense with the "command and control" attitude in the workplace once and for all.  It heightens the already-burgeoning distrust that permeates business.  Programming is a creative job that comes in ebbs and flows; the quality of mental output is not a function of forced exertion but, more often than not, the right conditions.

Consider "flow," the state in which quality mental output occurs.  It's decidedly fragile.  I think we should carefully consider whether, in addition to loud and materially-oppressive workplaces, another factor in the hindrance of flow is a forced sleep schedule that does not fit the employee well.

Not that I have empirical data to back this up, but I think it's a pretty intuitive conclusion.  There's something obviously wrong when we observe the "need" of employees to imbue themselves with caffeine to begin their workdays.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Saturday, August 21, 2004

People coming late = wrost performers? Give me a break. In my experience, those who were late were just able to afford it without fear of being fired. Such valuable empoyees they were.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Firstly, Myron, thanks for having the courage to post your beliefs when they're obviously flame-attracting.

However, I don't believe in your logic.  If there's any connection at all between the on-time arrivers and the good performers, it isn't cause and effect; it's because the people who take their jobs seriously both perform well and arrive on time.  Think how productive those people would be if they had some flexibility.

What about people like me, who are extreme morning people?  When I worked in an office, I was usually there by 6:30.  I'm at my most productive then.  Under your plan, those two hours in the morning -- when I'm sharpest -- are wasted.  Now that I work at home, fully 30-40% of my working hours are spent before 8am or after 8pm.

As for mandated hours as a way to force people to toe the line and do their jobs, it doesn't work.  Or at least, it's a poor tool for that purpose.  Instead, give your employees some flexibility, and if people slack off or take advantage of your flexibility, fire them and replace them with people who actually care about their work.  Simple as that.

Joe Ganley
Saturday, August 21, 2004

"I find it no coincidence that the people who have the hardest time making it here in the morning are also the worst performers."

Ever stop to think that the reason for their bad performance is that they're being forced to come to work at a time that is unnaturally early for them?

T. Norman
Sunday, August 22, 2004

"If there's any connection at all between the on-time arrivers and the good performers, it isn't cause and effect; it's because the people who take their jobs seriously both perform well and arrive on time.  Think how productive those people would be if they had some flexibility."

An excellent point.  I think you're illustrating the "cargo cult" mentality around forced hours.

i.e., the great performers work 9-5, so if we force everyone to work 9-5, they'll be great performers too...:)

Think about it:  by the logic that's applied to forced working hours, we should also force employees to eat a certain way, too.  After all, the _best_ employees certainly may have different diets than the rest of us.  Let's examine their eating habits, and impose them on the general working population in the name of productivity...

After all, a good diet is also a sign of discipline.  And as the above poster has pointed out, it is the role of companies to impose discipline on their poor employees.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Well then, let's enforce a uniform dress code as well so that everyone wears the same clothes.  Perhaps what they wear affects productivity levels. 

In the case of women, they have to think about what makeup to wear as well so let's ban makeup in the workplace.

And on that subject, I think everyone should have the same haircut.

Oh I get it now .. we're redesigning the military. 

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Why not just enforce everyone to work between 11am and 7pm?  Then those who appear to be the best performers and most disciplined are a different set of people (the people that like those hours).  The 9-5 would be so angry and upset they might have worse perfomance.

What a ridiculus concept that those who like 9-5 are the best disciplined.  What about the 8-4 and 10-6 crowd?  Ridiculus!!

Can't anyone realize there are different types of people in the world and if you want to have a successful company you need to be "Flexible" in many aspects of managing them.  It's such a simple concept.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home