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Programming The Almighty Buck IT

Are 10-11 Hour Programming Days Feasible? 997

Posted by timothy
from the what-share-of-the-company-is-he-offering? dept.
drc37 writes "My current boss asked me what I thought of asking all employees to work 10-11 hour days until the company is profitable. He read something from Joel Spolsky that said the best way to get new customers is to add new features. Anyways, we are a startup with almost a year live. None of the employees have ownership/stock and all are salary. Salaries are at normal industry rates. What should I say to him when we talk about this again?"
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Are 10-11 Hour Programming Days Feasible?

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  • Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:21PM (#34870034) Homepage Journal

    'Nuff said!

    • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Evets (629327) * on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:26PM (#34870162) Homepage Journal

      Well rested and happy people are far more productive than tired and unhappy people. A successful focus would be on motivation and efficiency, not on length of workday.

      • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:00PM (#34870806)

        Well rested and happy people are far more productive than tired and unhappy people.

        This is certainly true if you measure productivity in value of output per unit of time worked. OTOH, if you have exempt employees, your labor costs don't scale with hours worked, and you may, within a certain range, get more output per unit of labor cost by expanding hours past the point where that would be beneficial in a system of hourly wages.

        On the third(?!) hand, there is going to be a point at which that becomes counterproductive, even in the short-term, and in the long-term it probably isn't good for morale and retention.

        A successful focus would be on motivation and efficiency, not on length of workday.

        But a boss can't just declare motivation and efficiency, whereas a boss can just declare longer workdays. "Motivation and efficiency" require the boss to do work...

        • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Informative)

          by jrumney (197329) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:30PM (#34871306) Homepage

          This is certainly true if you measure productivity in value of output per unit of time worked. OTOH, if you have exempt employees, your labor costs don't scale with hours worked, and you may, within a certain range, get more output per unit of labor cost by expanding hours past the point where that would be beneficial in a system of hourly wages.

          Indeed. Studies have shown that the peak point for knowledge workers is something like 7.5 hours a day, 4 days a week, so going up from the standard 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (which we have Henry Ford to thank for - he carefully researched the optimum working time for assembly line workers) is already giving you diminishing returns.

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Funny)

            by losfromla (1294594) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:44PM (#34871562)

            citation please. I do agree and want to believe but laziness prevent me googling and filtering

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by floop (11798) * on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:30PM (#34872160)
            The ford motor company set a 48 hour, 6 day work week because, as Henry Ford said himself, for social justice reasons but it was really to reduce an extremely high turnover rate. This wasn't the whole picture in practice though. http://books.google.com/books?id=4K82efXzn10C&pg=PA126#v=onepage&q&f=false [google.com] He didn't invent the assembly line either. Ford Motors wasn't even the first to use it for auto manufacturing. Ford is not a hero. He was a CEO.
          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Informative)

            by TapeCutter (624760) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:39PM (#34873330) Journal
            The 40hr week [wikipedia.org] was fought for and won by the union movement, it had absolutely nothing to do with Henry Ford.
          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Friday January 14, 2011 @01:14AM (#34873994)

            That would meanhe would have to respect research. Hell,the fucking article doesn't say that more features sell software. In fact, it says quite the opposite. It says solve a problem better than anyone else, without worrying about your competitors.It has good advice. But read it and discuss it with your boss. Especially the many paragraphs about the importance of spoiling your programmers. HEll, Sposky talks about why overtime is bad in Joel On Software.

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by byte twine (1276352) on Friday January 14, 2011 @01:31AM (#34874100)
            Yeah, and willingly gave his workers health benefits so he could sell more ambulances...

            Oh, right, he did none of those things. You were born to a 40 hour work week because generations of workers fought for it. They fought for Sunday off, they fought for the 10-hour workday, and they fought for the 40 hour work week. Thank the workers who organized and fought in unions and gained this victory. Celebrate it and remember the struggle on May Day.
          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Hammer (14284) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:04AM (#34875144) Journal

            I worked for a company once that had a strict rule of 7.5 hours per day 5 days a week. If you needed to work extra to finish something you had to get clearance from the director of development.
            Their reasoning was that after 7.5 hours per day you introduce much more errors and that will increase testing and bug fixing time and ultimately the company product.

            With that reasoning in mind..... 10-11 hour days will likely f-ck up any programs developed pretty badly :-)

            • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:30AM (#34875498) Homepage Journal

              I worked for a company once that had a strict rule of 7.5 hours per day 5 days a week. If you needed to work extra to finish something you had to get clearance from the director of development.
              Their reasoning was that after 7.5 hours per day you introduce much more errors and that will increase testing and bug fixing time and ultimately the company product.

              With that reasoning in mind..... 10-11 hour days will likely f-ck up any programs developed pretty badly :-)

              OK, one size does not fit all. Some people work well for longer than others. Furthermore, things a person can do for short periods - a few weeks, perhaps - are not necessarily things the same person can sustain over the long haul. And if you push people too hard, not only do error rates go up short term, but ultimately they burn out and become unable to work effectively at all (where 'ultimately' can mean a year - or less).

              I've produced some of my best code working sixteen hour days. But I've also burned out working sixteen hour days for too long. In my opinion you need to treat your workforce as individuals each of whom will have a different most effective working pattern - and recognise that for any given individual their most efficient working pattern will vary over time. To get an effective workforce, someone in the team needs to be monitoring how individual team members' performance is changing over time, and seeking to understand why. And then, helping them to modify their working practice to achieve the best effectiveness they can.

              But in my opinion if you have someone who's basically a good, creative programmer, and they're having an off period, perhaps because of domestic problems, a good team manager will allow that person to 'slack' for a period - work less, or be assigned less difficult or more interesting work - in the expectation that when they get back to full strength they will be a more committed and more loyal team member.

        • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Surt (22457) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:59PM (#34871754) Homepage Journal

          The third hand is traditionally referred to as 'the gripping hand' in nerd circles.

      • by Skal Tura (595728)

        and prolonged periods of 10+ work days is an easy cause for burnout eventually.

        IT is mentally one of the most, maybe the most demanding industry, especially true for programmer's. Unfortunately people don't see a job "where you sit on your arse all day long" demanding.

        • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:37PM (#34872240) Journal

          I've worked for a bunch of startups, though no Google or such that I no longer need to work. There are all kinds of people out there, and you need to be very careful not to get screwed. It's amazing still to me how rational likable people can turn into true horrors when money is involved.

          So, here's what I recommend based on the very small amount of data presented. First, tell your employees that you have been asked to ask if they will work 10-11 hours per day until profitable without any stock or additional compensation. Be sure to mention the words stock and additional compensation. They will naturally, unless they are seriously whipped employees, say they would like to have either stock or more cash, but they're probably happy to work their hearts out if treated fairly. If you and your employees believe the company has a decent chance at a good future, go back to your boss and tell him the employees want stock, and that you feel it might be a good idea, and that you think you could run the team hard for a while if they all thought it was in their best interest. Also mention that if they own stock, they'll all want to work harder, even after they are profitable.

          Unless your boss is a complete dick (which is actually quite common), he'll find a way to get your guys stock. Be sure to ask how many outstanding shares there are, and be prepared for the possibility that he lies about the answer. Don't be a sucker. Try to double check the number by mentioning it to another investor, board member, the CFO, or someone else who knows the truth, and judge their reaction. Do a quick estimate of the current value of the company, and figure out how many shares per hour you could by with the cash that those hours are worth. Maybe be nice and work for a discount, but don't get totally screwed.

          Unfortunately, I see way too much of two kinds of people in startups. There are way too many dishonest owners and bosses who will take advantage of trusting geeks. After all, our skills are all engineering and software, not negotiation and conflict. On the other hand, there are way too many gullible geeks, and geeks who like so many beaten house wives are simply unable to grow a pair and stand up for themselves. Assuming you care about your employees, it's probably up to you to stand up for them.

          Then, there's the standard compromise, which I hope you will avoid. It is very common in these situations for your boss to offer you personally a fair stock deal, so long as you can sell a crap deal to your employees. The standard way this is done is for you to be asked to claim each share is worth X, when in reality it's worth less than X/10. The way to help your employees in this case is to somehow leak how much stock is outstanding. If your employees are too dumb to guess what the stock is actually worth once they have this information, they may not deserve extra compensation. The fact that you're posting here may mean you actually care about your employees. I hope you do, and can stick up for them.

          Finally, if your boss is one of those fairly common jerks who will absolutely refuse to get you stock now, but goes on and on about how much money he's going to pay you once their profitable, then consider moving to a new company. I have never in all my years in industry seen any such promise fulfilled.

          I'll end with a story where I got screwed for not growing a pair. Back in 1999, I was doing some consulting for Zvi OrBach, founder of eASIC. He'd promised me 2% of his stock for access to all my source code, and he promised to keep the code confidential, etc. I delivered the code, and the next day he sent it to Romania, where of course nothing is confidential. I asked for stock certificates, and he gave all sorts of BS reasons he couldn't do it right away, but if I'd wait a reasonable period of time, he'd make it happen. He sent me to Romania to train the team to use my software, and you know what he asked me to do? He asked me to tell them to work extra hours without pay, and he told me

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:37PM (#34872812)
            That's a nice story, but the fact remains that working programmers 10 hours a day for more than a couple of weeks max (for a particularly nasty deadline, for example) is just plain counterproductive. There are many years of stastistics to back that up. I don't have them right at hand, but I am sure someone here does.

            The statement that a happy and relaxed development team is more productive is still true.
            • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by dr2chase (653338) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:57PM (#34872988) Homepage
              It depends upon how you count your 10 hours. I worked for quite some time in a startup (distributed, in multiple homes), that ultimately failed, and astonishingly we all remained friends (we started friends). I looked at some logs of when we did commits and when we exchanged emails, and we worked ridiculous hours, for a long time, and generated code at a sustained rate (years) of something like 100 lines per day per person, not too picky about definition of "line", not too buggy (it was a brand-X JVM. We could run Swing apps. We could run Websphere.), including overhead for a fair amount of the crap that goes with running a business. This also included learning how to do stuff that was completely new to us, like emulating Sparc FP on an Intel, or translating gdtoa (FP-to-string) from C to Java, and debugging it.

              However, we were working at home, and I know that those "work hours" had holes in them, sometimes lots of holes in them. If I got stuck on a problem, I would do laundry, wash dishes, rake the yard, anything else that needed doing, and usually a solution would occur to me while I was doing something else. I think if I had been in an office, "forced" (by social pressure, if nothing else) to "look productive" for those hours, there is no way I could have done it.

              And yes, we all got non-trivial amounts of stock. Those of us who were getting paid a salary, obviously got less.

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Friday January 14, 2011 @12:10PM (#34878748) Journal

            As I've just thrown out a bit of a nasty story about Zvi above, I'd like to explain a bit more here. First, Zvi considers himself a man of high ethical standards. I'm no moral relativist, but Zvi is from the Middle East, where I suspect lying to the patent office and Romanian employees is considered wise, rather than unethical. At AMI, I dealt mostly with very ethical Christians and Mormons, and I figured it'd be hard to be screwed by the likes of these people. However, I discovered that a company with weak leadership is capable of acting like the worst individual that could be made from the worst aspects of all of it's leaders. One John Stone provided much of those worst aspects, but others provided irrational fear, NIH, kingdom building, genuine stupidity, etc. The individual made from these traits is not someone you can actually deal with.

            I loved the trip to Romania Zvi sent me on in 1999. I often wish I could go back there for a while. I'm sure Romanians on this list could properly describe Romania, but I'd like to say how it was for an American geek. First, I was not allowed to carry any significant amount of cash, and there was no such thing as credit cards. Instead, I had a person assigned to make sure I was well taken care of all the time. This is probably a very good thing. The first day, my guide and friend stepped between me and a poor child on the street who was reading a newspaper while walking past me. My guide explained that it was likely that the kid had a knife behind it to cut the laptop shoulder strap while another kid stole it. The poverty on the streets in Bucharest was quite sad, but the city was in many ways like all international cities, vibrant with activities, great food, and culture. We drove to a city which I believe is Iasi, though Zvi called it Yas or something similar, so I remained confused as to where I actually was.

            Iai for me was a place of great contradictions. The beauty of some architecture was breathtaking, old and magnificent, while much of where people actually lived was dull and uninspired, built under communist rule. I stayed at a hotel considered very nice for the area, and have no complaints. The bed was very small, more like a cot, but it was fine. One night a very beautiful tall slender girl knocked at my door, and opened her over-coat, revealing barely legal clothing underneath. She said "Speak, and I there", and pointed to the floor. Now, I am a huge geek, and I was married, but you'd think I'd figure out what she meant. I thought she was saying she had lost her dress under the couch, but there was nothing there. It took about five minute for her to get me to understand what she was suggesting, and then I was quite embarrased and turned her down as nicely as I could, which frankly was hard for me to do. I think fear was what kept me honest to my wife that night, fear of catching some disease, fear that my room was being taped and I'd be black-mailed, fear that she would somehow wind up taking my laptop (the only valuable thing I had).

            The software team was a group of around 10 employees, mostly in their 20's, who had degrees from the University. They worked in one room, on stools, with the worst PC hardware available on the market. Zvi had a Jewish buddy living here, who was running the whole thing, and one thing Zvi may not have realised is that he paid for Dell computers or equivalent, but the team got much cheaper hardware. His buddy pocketed the difference. A major problem was that the network barely worked at all, because the wiring was sub-standard. Their eithernet cables were super thin, and many just didn't work. I'd never seen eithernet cables like that, but someone was making money by skimping a penney per foot, and the software team was hard pressed to collaborate at all. It was litterally a sweat shop, where the heat from the machines and our bodies made the room quite uncomfortable.

            But, the team love to write code, some of them were pretty good, and the others seemed to learn quickly. There was an ex

    • Yeah, I was thinking something similar: "GFY".
    • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Funny)

      by linear a (584575) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:50PM (#34870614)
      If he wants you to cut back on programming hours then that's his choice.
    • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Informative)

      by syousef (465911) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:52PM (#34870650) Journal

      'Nuff said!

      The only correct answer as far as I'm concerned. OP is an idiot for even posting the question. Correct response: Start handing around your resume, talking to head hunters and agencies, and old colleagues. Get out ASAP.

      Boss is not going to pay more (or he'd be thinking of hiring more people, plus the company's not profitable). Boss is not smart enough to understand that what he's asking will result in lower quality and won't turn around profitability. Boss probably doesn't care about the welfare of the employee.

      Sounds like OP is in a sinking ship.

      • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by c6gunner (950153) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:24PM (#34872072)

        Boss is asking his opinion, ergo boss apparently cares enough to not just slam people over the head with his authority-stick. I could think of far worse people to work for. OP should be explaining to him the downsides of the plan, and perhaps suggesting better ways of achieving the desired goal - not pulling the pin and fucking off at the high-port.

        • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by syousef (465911) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:14PM (#34873110) Journal

          Boss is asking his opinion, ergo boss apparently cares enough to not just slam people over the head with his authority-stick. I could think of far worse people to work for. OP should be explaining to him the downsides of the plan, and perhaps suggesting better ways of achieving the desired goal - not pulling the pin and fucking off at the high-port.

          No, the boss is a manager of people but does not understand that working them into the ground for a sustained period isn't going to save the company. He is either desperate or stupid or both. In any case a manager of software developers that does not know the answer to this question is an amateur at best and has no business running a company.

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by c6gunner (950153) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:43PM (#34873354)

            I'll take an amateur who's willing to learn over a "professional" who thinks he's infallible, any day.

          • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Kjella (173770) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:58AM (#34875386) Homepage

            No, the boss is a manager of people but does not understand that working them into the ground for a sustained period isn't going to save the company. He is either desperate or stupid or both.

            Of course he's desperate. His company is tanking, and he's got a helluva lot more invested in it than the employees who have been paid for time worked. Calling it quits, folding the company and taking that loss is the very, very last option - driving his employees into the ground is actually a step up on that list, if it works. If you can't survive in the here and now, nothing else matters - no matter how much you crash your long term chances, burn your bridges with employees - you're not going to be around to see it. Long term you pray that the market will turn and jump on your product and that people can be replaced. Just the way it's suggested makes me think they're on the last page of options already, I mean everybody must understand being asked to pay much much more for the same pay is the same as cutting your hourly salary by a lot.

    • Re:Bye-bye! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:19PM (#34871146) Journal

      For me, It'd be a simple equation.

      Lets suppose I'm a junior making 50k a year.

      That works out to be ~$24.65 dollars an hour, at the regular schedule of 8 hour work days 5 days a week (40 hours a week).

      They want to bump up the yearly hours from 2028 to 2600 or 2860?
      That's 572 to 832 overtime hours in my book. Overtime usually means at least a time and a half (1.5x) but if you are feeling like this will be particularily draining you could ask for more.

      So $24.65 x 1.5 ~= $36.98 per hour
      coming to a total of an extra $21149.7 or $30763.2 a year.

      So, if I were making 50K, I'd ask for 72k to 80k a year for them to ask for an extra 2 hours of work a day. And thats being pretty generous.

      If you make more than that, and you think overtime should be 2x the pay, be prepared to step up and show them the math. At first they'll think you are joking but when you lay it out in terms that are normally accepted by the working society, they won't have much to argue with. If they want to fire you because you won't work the extra hours for less, you can file for wrongful dismissal. Unless of course you signed a contract at the beginning of your job lending yourself to be run over.

    • by Aronacus (1330507) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:43PM (#34872864) Journal
      I used to work as a Field Service Computer Technician for a Large Corporation. We had Mandatory unpaid overtime and a 60-80 hour week was the norm. I was 23 when I started that job and when I left at 27 I was a dead man. High Blood Pressure, Borderline Diabetes, High Cholesterol. My Doctor had me on a stack of drugs just to keep me going and warned me if I kept this up I'd be dead in 5-10 years. I worked and worked and one day my boss pulled me aside and said "you can't take that vacation! You are too important to your Territory. I was shocked. He told me I'd lose my job if I took the Vacation. Long Story short I took my vacation. I posted my Resume and I got out of there. I work for a new company where we work 35 hour weeks. get paid lots more money and I sit at a Desk most of the day. Here's the best part. Of all the medication I was on about 7 prescriptions I now only take 1. With all the Free time I was able to get Married and have a good life. I now know about the Dangers involved in pulling 60-80 hour weeks. Don't be stupid. No jobs worth the bull shit.
  • No thanks... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:21PM (#34870046)

    My current boss asked me what I thought of asking all employees to work 10-11 hour days until the company is profitable. ... None of the employees have ownership/stock and all are salary...

    Hahha ha ha ha haaaaaha ahaaa... Chortle... Yes. Well.

    Please tell me where you work so I can avoid having anything to do with you folks...

    • Re:No thanks... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chapter80 (926879) on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:06AM (#34876842)

      It seems I have a different opinion than all the other posts. Maybe my (PHB) pointy hair is affecting my thinking.

      Sounds like the boss is asking for about 30% more hours. Would you like it better if the boss announced a 30% layoff (in these tough times)? Or maybe he might be demanding more hours, with the expectation that he'll have some attrition. This isn't a bad strategy for him, if all the employees are approximately "worth what they are paid", but a horrible strategy if he has some employees who are a bargain, and others who are overpaid for their contribution. He might want to swiftly eliminate any under-contributors.

      There are several factors that you should consider when getting this request from your boss. They are:

      What are the company's prospects?
      What are your personal prospects inside the company? (Are you well respected?)
      What are your personal prospects outside the company? (How's the job market?)
      How much do you like the job?
      What leverage do you have in this situation?

      Let's take an extreme example as an illustration. Say you are paid $150K, the people at the company are great, the boss is highly ethical and has a good mind for business, and there is a downturn in business, obviously temporary, because your largest customers went bankrupt. The job market is bad in your part of the world (and so getting a 75K job might take a couple of years of job hunting), The company has treated you more than fairly over the year (even though you have not received ownership, they've paid you well). In this case, if the boss asks for more hours, you'd be a fool not to go along with it. Probably the best thing you can do is to try to negotiate a short duration of the long hours - say a month or two - or request an agreement that back pay will be provided when things turn around. But if you can't negotiate it, you suck it up, and do the hours. Or, as an alternative (if you are inclined), you ask if you can take a lesser salary to simply work 8 hour days.

      More likely though, this company has never been profitable, you are burning through the investment dollars (or you are costing the ownership money every month, and perhaps the boss is the owner). He might be looking at a situation where he is "working for free" or even at a loss, simply to pay the employees.

      I have been both an employee and a boss/owner in those situations. It's tough. It's very stressful to be the boss/owner, who works hard every day, and at the end of the month, instead of getting a paycheck, he has to write a check ("pay to work here" sucks for a boss!). Let me tell you, it sucks. And it really sucks if when you hear your employees doing normal office social interaction (chit-chat) - and doing everything you can to resist yelling "GET BACK TO WORK".

      I found that the best way to handle this as a boss is to think of the business as an engineering problem. And make it a shared problem. Instead of doing something haphazard, like asking people to work 10-11 hour days, you formulate a plan, and make it a shared plan. This is more of advice for your boss, not for you, but perhaps you can direct him to it.

      This approach requires a lot of honesty of the boss, and a trust in the maturity of the workforce. But I have seen it work MANY times. (get Jack Stack's books (1 [amazon.com], 2 [amazon.com], 3 [amazon.com]) to read about one of the more high profile cases of this working, with factory workers!)

      First, start out with the statement of the problem. The boss has to lay it all out there. And he has to approach this like a problem-solving exercise, not a threat.

      Gather the team together,

  • Don't Say Anything (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:21PM (#34870054)

    Start your job hunt now.

  • by adisakp (705706) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:22PM (#34870058) Journal
    I'd take a reduction in hours anyday.
    • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by adisakp (705706) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:23PM (#34870080) Journal
      Seriously... I work in the game industry and on one project I worked over 100 hours a week for four months straight.
      • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rwven (663186) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:27PM (#34870178)

        I don't care what you were working on...no job is worth that.

        • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by adisakp (705706) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:32PM (#34870306) Journal
          Yeah... that project wrecked me. I had to port several hundred thousand lines of assembler all by myself for "NBA Jam" on the Jaguar. Mind you, about 75% of that was data tables which is pretty easy to port but it was still over 100,000 lines of real code as well plus implementing all the architectural changes for a new platform. I had some health issues with my liver almost failing from work stress that plagued me for about a year afterwards (i.e. yellowish eyes / jaundice) but eventually I recovered and I am fine today many years later.
          • Work is killing me (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Tisha_AH (600987) <Tisha.Hayes@gmail.com> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:26PM (#34872114) Journal

            I have worked for two companies that went down the same road. One started issuing all sorts of stock options, then they did a reverse 700:1 split and the new shares ended up going for about $3 each (originally they were as high as $38 a share before the split. At one time, during the.com boom it would have been around $2.24 million dollars in stock. After the reverse split the options were down to a total value of $257. They did re-issue new stock options at the revalued price, it was just an insult.

            For seven years I worked the 50-60 hour weeks. Ended up with ulcers, heart problems, insomnia and some stress related disorders and on a laundry list of meds (I still take 12 prescriptions a day, eight years after I was finally laid off).

            Seeing the doctor at the time I was taken aback when she said "just quit, no job is worth your life". It all made sense at the time, put in a few more years, exercise my options on a few million dollars and retire by age 40.

            The second company just wanted more billable hours (consultant) as they could bill on the hours you put against a project. They just one day, unilaterally decided that our billable targets were set to 50 hours/week. Even working a 60 hour week you still lose hours when doing emails, phone calls, company motivational presentations and the obligatory after hour "social" get-togethers.

            I tell ya, unless it is time with someone you really are in love with, after 50 hours a week the last thing you want to be doing is hanging out with the folks you work with.

            Usually the folks who make these sorts of proclamations on "50 hour work weeks" have already been through a few divorces (because their job was way more of a priority than their families) and would not know what to do with their time if they were not at work. At this last company I was working a really long day, it was around 8 pm when I swung by the owners office to say good night to find him sitting there drinking Jack Daniels from a paper cup in his office. That is the type of life they wanted us to live. Only one priority in the world, work your ass off to make money for them. Not giving a damn about what your decisions mean to other people (probably why his wife dumped his ass too) and making all sorts of money so at your death you can have a viking funeral, burning on piles of $1 bills.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:22PM (#34870064)

    They suck and you will get burned out.

    You will also write shitty code, which will cost more to maintain.

    Market's good, bail asap.

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:37PM (#34870406)

      Basically, I would say anything over 50 hours per week is a waste. More than that and you will get less done (through mistakes, extra breaks, loss of morale, and employees just plain leaving) than you would if you had stopped at 50. Maybe you could do a single week at more than that and get a bit more done, but I find it unlikely.

      And even 50 hours per week is probably not sustainable for anything approaching long term, I've always found that after 3-4 weeks I'm totally burned out and the work starts to suffer. That's if people don't run for the hills the minute the words "mandatory, unpaid overtime" are out of the boss's mouth.

      If I had to guess at a sustainable number, I'd probably pick 45. It's only 1 extra hour per day, most people will grumble about it but not start looking for another job. Note: people aren't going to be happy about it, and even at 'only' nine hour work days you better be ready to spend some money to keep morale up. Things like free meals and gift cards for exceptional work can go a long way towards making people feel like you actually appreciate the extra effort, but are no replacement for overtime pay.

  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:23PM (#34870094)

    Give him three options:

    More pay
    Ownership stake
    Look for your replacement

  • If (Score:4, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:23PM (#34870100) Journal

    If you work 10-11 hour days, what do you do on the other 355 days of the year?

  • by ezratrumpet (937206) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:23PM (#34870106) Journal
    People must be paid. Stock options are a form of payment. But people don't work for free.
  • Feasible? Sure! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fzimper (201054) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:23PM (#34870110) Homepage

    Effective? Hardly!

  • by anjilslaire (968692) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:24PM (#34870112) Homepage
    "until the company is profitable" is way too vague to work like that.
  • by dbc (135354) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:25PM (#34870126)

    Seriously. You hire people to work at a start up, with start up risks, with start up health plans, and expect them to work start up hours without any ownership? To anybody worth hiring, that doesn't even pass the giggle test. Do *you* have stock? if not, why do you work there?

  • Short answer ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bake (2609) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:25PM (#34870128) Homepage

    No.

    Long answer: Heck no.

  • Tell him you quit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:25PM (#34870136)
    I'd say the next time you talk about this should be the day you find a new job. Tell him you quit, and tell him why.
  • by manonthemoon (537690) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:25PM (#34870144) Homepage

    sounds like a great idea.

    Seriously... working an occasional long haul is fine, but expecting and scheduling 5x10 is destructive to the lives of the employees and ultimately to the company. He'll get approximately the same output, but with lower company morale and higher employee turnover.

  • Explain the math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdf356 (774923) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [653fdm]> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:26PM (#34870156) Homepage

    It's very simple. You are paid to think. The quality of your thoughts after 8 hours working in a day is not nearly as good as in the first few hours. Except for a short stint, the quality of thinking after 10 hours is so poor that you will spend more time cleaning up the messes you made when tired than you saved by working longer.

  • Burn-out. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CoolGopher (142933) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:26PM (#34870158)

    Simple as that. That's of course assuming you could get the people to agree to it in the first place.

    You can do long hours for a short period in order to get a particular feature out the door (but will have to give everyone plenty of time to recover afterward). Doing long hours on an open-ended schedule is just a burn-out disaster in the making. Of course, if all the developers quit, the company expenditure is reduced...

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:26PM (#34870160) Homepage Journal
    Unless your employees are completely and entirely dependent upon this job right now (i.e. not enough skills to get hired somewhere else, supporting families, etc.) or they are completely invested, idealistically, to the products you provide, I imagine a lot of them will leave. Folks don't tend to like being told, from on high, that they absolutely have to do something burdensome. So unless they zealously believe in your product, they'll find somewhere nicer to leave.

    I would suggest digging up some research on how, in a given day, most employees only actually produce ~X many hours of quality work (I think I heard something like 4 - 6 hours at one point). Or, alternatively, your boss could address the employee body directly and, rather than demand that employees work those hours, ask for volunteers who would like to see the project succeed to volunteer. Folks prefer long work hours when they are there by choice.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:26PM (#34870172)

    My company has been working 12 hour days for 18 months. I don't think they are feasible in a normal economy (people would leave). I don't think they are feasible for too much longer (now having to bring in outside resources for the first time-- people are fully loaded).

    However, they are providing us high quality lunch and dinner at our desks. The crew is mostly senior resources (35 to 50 years old) with 12+ years experience). They did this back in 1995-2000 and had a hard time hiring anyone for several years.

    The quality is there in my opinion. SO mostly we are just giving up personal lives. I do not watch much TV any more. Every 4 or 5 weeks we get a week or two of 10 hour days as a break. Dinner is not provided those days.

  • See! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:27PM (#34870182)

    This is why fuckedcompany.com should be resurrected. Its services are still in need it appears.

    To poster: As having been an employee in salary-only positions, salary+equity positions, and now a business owner with a small (6) group of employees, let me provide you advice from my 11 years of IT experience: Run as fast as you can. No employer should ever be asking you to work with no equity and without additional compensation for 60+ hours a week.

  • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:27PM (#34870198)

    That all progammers ask him for a doubling of salary and a halving of work time. Because you were reading on Slashdot that having free time and enough money is the best way to produce happy, productive employees?

    Or suggest that if he wants to grow his business, then he either needs to employ more developers, or give his employees stock in exchange for the crunch,

    BTW you should tell him to check out ReWork from 37signals. It makes a good counter argument to "features features features" (or, as I like to think of it: Microsoft vs Apple philisophy - both are evil overlords, but both take a different approach to building their dominions).

  • by rewt66 (738525) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:29PM (#34870236)

    Never work overtime for longer than a week.

    Why? Because your brain gets tired. You make more mistakes. Mistakes slow you down enough that, after more than a week of overtime, net productivity goes down. (This isn't an assembly line, it's brain work.)

    If your boss can't wrap his brain around that, start looking.

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:30PM (#34870252)

    There's legitimate reasons why employees at a startup would need to put in tons of hours until things get up to speed. The flipside is that the potential for a large payday is significantly greater for the startup employer than for an established firm.

    It seems therefore logical that the proper arrangement is to offer the employees a chunk of the profit in exchange for getting the push to release done on-time and with all the features. If your employer doesn't want to pay you like a startup, he has no right to ask for startup-esque sacrifices. Conversely, if the employees are not willing to push hard for release in exchange for such a bonus, they should find employment at a more well-established firm.

  • Well, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:30PM (#34870256)

    What should I say to him when we talk about this again?

    Tell him he's as clueless as he is greedy.

    Or just refer him to this post, and I'll tell him for you.

  • Just Read This (Score:5, Informative)

    by TexVex (669445) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:31PM (#34870290)

    Anyways, we are a startup with almost a year live. None of the employees have ownership/stock and all are salary. Salaries are at normal industry rates. What should I say to him when we talk about this again?

    Here, this link is all you need to know: http://archives.igda.org/articles/erobinson_crunch.php [igda.org]. It's a bit of a wall of text, but you can read the first part and then skip to the end, which contains this nugget:

    In most times, places, and industries over the past century, managers who worked their employees this way would have been tagged as incompetent -- not just because of the threat they pose to good worker relations, but also because of the risk their mismanagement poses to the company's productivity and assets. A hundred years of industrial research has proven beyond question that exhausted workers create errors that blow schedules, destroy equipment, create cost overruns, erode product quality, and threaten the bottom line.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:32PM (#34870300) Homepage Journal
    When I worked for the federal government we had the option to work four 10 hours days and then got to take Friday off. It was pretty sweet especially if you could go down to your car and take a brief power nap during lunch.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      I also work 4 10s, and yes it's sweet BUT I have 3 days tio recharge. Working 10+ every day 5-7 days a week is different.

      I am far more productive this way.

  • Hours (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:34PM (#34870352) Homepage

    Six months ago I began working solo on a commercial programming project. I've been working 16-18 hours each day, most days, because that's what I feel is required to bring the project to market in a reasonable time. It would be great if I had a team of people and we could all work 8-hour-days, but I don't, so long hours are required.

    It sounds like your boss is in a similar situation. He wants to market a product of X size, requiring Y amount of work, in Z time. What he's asking you is: Are you, and the rest of the staff, the right people for this project? Are you willing to do Y amount of work in Z time?

    The tone of your question to slashdot is, I think: How do I tell my boss that this is an unreasonable request, while still keeping my job? In other words: How do I dictate the terms of my employment?

    Really the question should be to yourself, and it should be exactly the same question that your boss is asking you: Are you the right person for this job?

    It's perfectly acceptable for you to decide that you aren't the right person. Maybe all of the other staff are the wrong people too. But the job is what it is. I don't bat an eyelid to working a 12-hour day, but maybe that isn't right for you, and that's fine.

    Good luck, anyway. I hope the situation can be resolved in a way that works for everyone.

    (Note: my answer would be very different if your boss was asking you to do more work for the same money, but as you didn't say anything about that I assume that isn't the case.)

  • by new death barbie (240326) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:37PM (#34870396)

    First, demanding you just work more hours shows a complete lack of understanding of the development process. Forcing programmers to work more hours does NOT equal more results. It equals more turnover. Which can equal LESS results.

    He is asking you for a sizable chunk of your life. What is he willing to offer?

    -- Can he offer a decent incentive, for meeting MEASURABLE, OBJECTIVE goals, which you have REASONABLE chance of achieving?

    -- Do you trust him to keep his word?

    -- Will he get off your back while you get down to business?

    -- Will enough of the team buy in to these targets to make them achievable? Not just deliberate slackers, not everyone can afford to work the same hours. Will the incentive be pro-rated?

    If you like the answers to these questions, then you can decide if you're willing to go for it.

  • by neiras (723124) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:42PM (#34870478)

    Asking a question like that shows how little your boss values his employees, their productivity, and their mental well-being. For that matter, it shows how clueless he is about office politics. Is he trying to weed out the people who don't care deeply for his startup? Hint: NONE of the salaried staff care as much as he does.

    Why on earth would salaried staff agree to sacrifice their ability to actually have a life for nothing but boss kudo points?

    In order to get people to sacrifice for their employer, you need a well-understood, fair incentive. Companies pay for expert employees' time. Your boss needs to put his money where his mouth is and pay hourly for overtime. The problem is, to avoid abuse you would need to be measuring productivity fairly accurately, and since you're a startup you're probably running your projects casually.

    I've worked at companies that tried things like this in half-baked ways. Endless process improvement meetings, coworkers that hate you for staying late for nothing, productivity falling through the floor as people try to game the system. I've even seen people damage their personal relationships beyond repair "for the project". It's not a pretty picture, and your boss needs to understand the magnitude of the possible consequences.

    If your boss wants to add a team-wide incentive program for beating a deadline, fine. But if your salaried staff are happy, he shouldn't fuck with that, and he should be regularly encouraging them to get the hell out of the office at 5PM so that they are happy to come back in the morning.

    Want to get more done during business hours? HIRE MORE STAFF.

  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:42PM (#34870484) Homepage

    I would suggest to not make it mandatory. You may get some to work 10's. You may get some to do 9's, and you'll have your usual group of 8's. Mandatory OT blows for salaried people, Those that don't have a lot going on in their lives or don't mind giving a little extra will do so without a lot of question. Your employees will stay happy. I also suggest your boss creating a realistic time line for profitability and perhaps sharing that with the rest of the employees.

    I personally work over time every day, but I normally do not put in more than 45 to 47 hours a week. Sometimes my over time will just be an extra 15 minutes a day to finish up whatever I was working on. I've also put in 16 hour days where we had a lot going on and every little bit of extra help was gladly accepted. Every year I get a bonus that's larger than most of the other people at my level where I work. So perhaps some sort of incentive along with the over time would be helpful. It doesn't even have to be a cash incentive. Some people just like having a nice place to work at, so maybe a catered lunch would be preferred.

    Telling people to do mandatory over time is an option. Seriously, ask for volunteers first. If a large majority helps out, those that don't will get shunned and move on elsewhere quickly. In my personal experience those who aren't willing to at the very least do a little extra sometimes are also the people who half ass their work and are malcontents. We all value our personal time, but really, how many of us have so much going on in our personal lives that we can't give 2 or 3 hours a week when it's asked? Those that are so gung-ho against it are those that never get anywhere in their careers. They miss those opportunities to show that they can do more and talk to the higher-ups who are still there working.

  • by taustin (171655) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:43PM (#34870500) Homepage Journal

    Depending on what state you are in, there may be meaningful differences between salaried and salaried exempt. Differences that matter a lot, if someone complains about unpaid overtime. In California, for instance, if one assumes that programmers are computer professionals (and the courts haven't, by and large), they can be salaried exempt, but only if they make over $40/hour, or about $80k/year. Less than that, or if they're not computer professionals, they can be salaried, but not salaried exempt, which means they still get overtime.

    A lawsuit like that can put even a successful company out of business very quickly.

  • by johnjaydk (584895) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:50PM (#34870596)
    Sounds like the company is taking a really big gamble. Stay with it if You're cool with such a gamble. Personally, I'd run for the hills.
  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:51PM (#34870632) Homepage Journal

    Sure. The problem is that multiple proven, highly effective ways of losing customers are so closely related to quick and cheesy ways of adding new features. I'll name a few:

    * Adding bugs.
    * Adding complexity.
    * Overloading support.
    * Slowing maintenance.
    * Making just about everything more expensive, including features customers will decide they need in the future.

    I could go on and on, but this is enough to show that going on a new feature spree isn't a no-brainer.

    Now from a marketing perspective, who does this better than anyone else? Apple. For many years Apple earned the sneers of tech heads everywhere by keeping its products on a strict feature budget. They *never* introduce a product that does everything you could easily imagine it doing. Instead they:

    (a) do a really nice job on the features they deliver and

    (b) regularly release a *small* number of new features, small enough they can really hit the marketing ball out of the park when they explain to customers why they absolutely *have* to chuck their old iPod and buy a new one.

    The second point is really the key. Apple doesn't get ahead of themselves, they never do it all in one go. Sometimes the new features are really quite impressive, other times they're things Apple could easily have done earlier, but they've timed to nudge the herd down the upgrade track.

    The first gen Touch didn't have a built in speaker. That's not a deal breaker, because the first gen was so cool. Then Apple introduced the second gen, which really was only a tiny bit spiffier, but it *did* have a speaker. Then every time a happy 1st gen owner could have used that feature, he'd be thinking, "Gee I love my 1st gen, but I'd be just a *little* bit happier if I bought a 2nd gen." This leaves *everyone* happy. The owner now has his spiffy new iPod with speaker, and Apple has sold two nearly identical devices to a customer for much less than twice the cost.

    The only people who are unhappy are cranks who insist on believing Apple does features this way because it's too stupid to come up with new features or see their value to the customer. It's *because* they see the value of new features that they dole them out this way, so they get the greatest possible mileage out of them.

  • No (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:53PM (#34870674)

    No. [lostgarden.com]

    You can only manage that kind of effort temporarily. Soon your work goes into the shitter, despite feeling that you're getting more done. And you need an equivalently long recovery period just to get back on track afterward.

    Being asked to do it for an indeterminate amount of time isn't a good sign.

  • What it takes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by possible (123857) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:58PM (#34870758)

    If I understand your post correctly, it sounds like you are working for a startup where people consistently work 9 or 8 hour days (or less). As someone who has worked as a developer for 15 years (in both startups and large companies) and who has also started my own successful company and grown it to a market leader, let me share my opinion on how startups work. Remember that the vast majority of startups fail. To make a startup successful, you need either:

    (a) An incredible amount of pure dumb luck and good timing (very rare)
    (b) A little bit of luck PLUS an incredible amount of hard work and dedication

    If you go to the owner of your startup and say "We will work harder if you pay us more", that indicates that you don't have the intrinsic drive needed to make a startup successful. If on the other hand you go to the owner and say: "Listen, we are going to work as hard as humanly possible to make this successful. We'll work all nighters, 18 hour days, whatever -- we will do what it takes on a consistent basis, making sure that we don't get so burned out that we're making bad decisions or doing poor quality work. In return, we expect to have ownership in this company [aka stock options or even better, a straight grant of common stock if you can negotiate it], to be compensated well, and to have a productive work environment. We don't need rules on minimum hours per day -- in fact if you need these rules to make people work harder, we probably have the wrong people on the team."

    If you're not willing to get on board with that, you don't have what it takes to make a startup successful and you should seek work elsewhere. If the owner of the company is not willing to get on board with that, then HE (or she) does not have what it takes to make a startup successful and you should seek work elsewhere.

    Cheers

    • Re:What it takes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by glenstar (569572) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:44PM (#34871564)
      As a startup founder, director, and CTO (not all at the same time, mind you) I would frequently send developers home if they weren't being productive... even if they were only there for 4 or 5 hours. Sometimes you hit a wall and no amount of staring at that screen is going to help. Why would I want to pay you to sit there and do nothing when I could send you home and you come back tomorrow refreshed and ready to tackle the problem? I rarely let anyone work more than 10 or 11 hours because my experience taught me that the quality of what is produced is *drastically* reduced during those death marches. Again... sure a team may roll out a dozen new features over an 18 hour day but how many bugs will that produce? More importantly, how demotivated will they be the next day on 3 hours of sleep? It's a vicious cycle that I never allow my teams to enter. It's all about the bottom line and to me inching a race forward is no good unless you meet the finish line. That being said, a developer who has to be sent home after 5 or 6 hours every day is completely worthless to me. You are either on-board or you are not. I don't care how or when you work as long as you produce product that is exceptional. A rule that I had at my first CTO gig was as follows: "I don't care if I ever see you in the office. If you miss a deadline without giving me sufficient advance warning I will fire you. You were hired because you are smart and a quality coder. I shouldn't have to babysit you." Works well if you have a driven team.
  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:01PM (#34870832)

    Oh.... that's in DECIMAL?

    Sorry, carry on.

  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:02PM (#34870846) Homepage

    He wants 25% or more extra effort from the developers, is he prepared to offer something worth 25% or more of their salary extra in return for it or does he expect charity? Will he define 'successful' in writing in a formal employment agreement? Will that include some sort of protection against being tossed out the door uncompensated as soon as that success happens?

    Perhaps offering telework so employees can do productive work rather than sitting in traffic would help.

    The next issue up is effectiveness. What makes him think people can be effective working 10-11 hours a day for a long stretch?

    Of course, unless he is willing to make this a true offer that individuals can decline without penalty (other than not getting whatever is offered in return), he should prepare to watch what productivity there is now walk out the door.

  • by DeathSquid (937219) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:10PM (#34870996)

    How many people can really work 10-11 hours a day solidly, every day, and produce high quality code?

    If you really want to raise productivity, how about:
    * get rid of all unnecessary meetings (those that do not directly move the project forward)
    * get rid of all unnecessary paperwork (including bureaucratic bullshit like timesheets)
    * hire dedicated sales support rather than distracting core engineers
    * give engineers a door to close and respect it
    * encourage working off-site and/or out-of-hours when deep concentration is required
    * encourage engineers to work at time of peak efficiency (don't make a night person work early, etc.)
    * establish a culture of no working on weekends

    Good engineering management like this can raise productivity 50-100%.

  • by shadowfaxcrx (1736978) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @08:16PM (#34871092)

    Did he also read the stuff Spolsky said about paying fantastic above-industry-standard salaries and having a fantastic office with excellent workspace and expensive, comfortable chairs, and catered staff lunches daily? Oh, and a lounge with a theater system and a ridiculously expensive coffee machine that costs more than the GDP of some countries?

    How about the stuff Spolsky says about retaining old customers by squashing bugs and not just adding new features specifically so you can run around claiming you have a new shiny, even though it's useless and buggy?

    Tell your boss to stop cherrypicking from what Spolsky says when he has no idea what his actual management philosophy is.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:11PM (#34871910)

    I kid you not. a local bay area company was upfront and open with me that they require all employees (software and hardware) to work mandatory saturdays (their phrase) for at least the next year, maybe 18mos.

    nope, not a sprint but really a long distance run.

    I simply told them this was burn-out city and unreasonable. I had an offer but had to say no to them. (I won't mention their name but in the last year, they did make slashdot as a story on their own tech, fwiw).

    speaking with one employee, during the interview, gave me the strong impression that they hated this policy and it was wearning them all down.

    I had to say no. I'm too old for this shit.

  • by Just Brew It! (636086) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @11:32PM (#34873266)
    But unless there's a reward for those developers at the end of that tunnel, they should expect people to start jumping ship when the job market improves. Furthermore, developers who are being pressured to put in overtime to implement new features are not going to create the cleanest (or best documented) code; so when those developers leave, the company is going to have a maintenance mess on their hands.
  • Charity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lexcyber (133454) on Friday January 14, 2011 @01:22AM (#34874044) Homepage

    I answer this as I answer anyone asking for this kind of work conditions.

    If you want charity, go to a charity organization. Don't work for free, end of story.

    I have something to sell (my time) employer need something (my time) and he or her should pay for it.

     

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday January 14, 2011 @02:06AM (#34874290) Journal

    This situation is not unusual. But what bosses forget is to enable their employees to WORK more hours rather then just ordering them to do so.

    We single geeks waste a lot of time. Do you make breakfast? You COULD be working already having skipped the rush hour making your commute faster IF your boss served breakfast at the office.

    Same with doing the shopping. Hire a teen to do it for your employees and they don't need to rush to the shops at the last minute.

    Expensive? Not at all, sure it costs a bit of money but the hours saved not just in time but in frustration your employees will vent during the day is huge. THINK of it. How many hours a day are wasted with people complaining about their commute? Enable them to escape it, by leaving earlier/later, and the complaint time is gone and you get a happier employee.

    Same with other trivial stuff. Arrange for someone who can do the waiting in line bits. You know, like a secretary. Who does call the energy company to handle the bosses complaint about his personal bill because that time could be better spend on more productive work.

    Want more out of your workers? Reduce their non-work load. A person has 100% energy, anything not spend on work is a waste. How many of you have taken a few hours off to take the car to the garage? Have the office flunky do it and gain some productive hours.

    Same with the office itself. If a programmer has to load paper into the printer he ain't coding, not thinking about how to solve a valuable problem. So have people to do that.

    It really ain't complicated. Get your development team a secretary. Watch productivity soar.

  • Bad idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dragoness Eclectic (244826) on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:40AM (#34877242)

    That's not the worst idea in the history of bad ideas, but it's pretty bad. Beyond somewhere between 4-6 hours of productive mental work per day, the brain gets tired and your attention and focus goes to hell. Most of us fill out the rest of the day with non-demanding stuff like reading e-mail, gossiping with our coworkers, surfing the Internet, doing paperwork, etc. Push people to work 10+ hours a day and I predict that (a) your best people will suddenly find a job somewhere else, and (b) those remaining will actually slow the project down because of extra bugs and other lost productivity due to mistakes. Or (c), you will ship a bug-riddled, barely-working mess more or less on schedule, like a certain game company is notorious for doing. And lets not forget (d) disgruntled, overworked programmer sells your IP to his new employer or creatively re-arranges your development servers.

    Personally, I wish we'd move to either 6-hour work days or a 4 day work-week. I'd rather have the extra day off than fake working for about 10 hours of the week (that 2 hours of the day where I can't concentrate on productive work any more and do mindless crap).

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