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Office Work Ethic In the IT Industry? 709

An anonymous reader writes "As a recent graduate entering industry for the first time at a large software and hardware company, I have been shocked at what seems to be a low standard of work ethic and professionalism at my place of employment, especially in this poor economy. For example, at my company, the large majority of developers seem to each individually waste — no exaggeration — hours of time on the clock every day talking about football, making personal phone calls, gossiping, taking long lunches, or browsing the Internet (including, yes, Slashdot!). Even some of our subcontractors waste time in this manner. Being the 'new guy,' I get stuck with much of the weekend and after-hours grunt work when we inevitably miss deadlines or produce poor code. I'm not in any position to go around telling others to use their time more efficiently. Management seems to tolerate it. I would like to ask Slashdot what methods others have used to deal with office environments such as this. Is my situation unique or is it common across the industry?"
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Office Work Ethic In the IT Industry?

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  • by ipX ( 197591 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:08AM (#30667330)
    Get ready to work Sundays.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @08:35AM (#30668160)

      That's why I'll take my signals at work from Thomas Anderson (Neo) rather than Peter. Remember when Neo gets that call from Morpheus that allows him to escape the cubicle farm? Peter Gibbons should have taken THAT call.
      Come to think of it, can you imagine a mashup mix of "Office Space" and "The Matrix"...that would be awesome! Lumbergh could team up with Agent Smith. Lawrence (Peter's next door neighbor) could make inappropriate remarks about Trinity's boobs at various times to break the tension.... I'd pay money to see THAT movie over Avatar any day!

    • Yup, or leave.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by El Jynx ( 548908 )

      If it really bothers you, either start looking for another job - or join them in slacking. But be prepared to log all your hours - and those of your colleagues - so that when the inevitable gripe comes you can show that you're more productive than your colleagues, as endorsed by management. That's no way to really run a company (normal for governments though). I'm guessing they're in a segment where there isn't much competition. Once that heats up they won't know how to get into gear on time, and will eithe

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:10AM (#30667346)

    They aren't going to sit down, do 8 straight hours of work, then go home. You'll burn out even trying. People work better with short, frequent breaks taken at their own rate. So long as they get the work done, there's no problem. The only issue I see here is you- first off, grow some balls and refuse to work the extra hours. Trust me, you won't be rewarded for them. Secondly, unless someone isn't making their individual units of work, mind your own business. Or maybe even join in the next time they talk football, you might make a friend or two.

    • by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:24AM (#30667434) Homepage Journal

      Mod parent up. This "Ask Slashdot" is a typical reaction of someone who is very very new to the workforce and doesn't understand (yet) it has a human component. During your studies, you don't work 8h straight either, but you don't notice. Well, most of them don't. I remember that, when I was a student, I could at most study 4h over the whole day. However, when I did that, I was concentrated. My neighbour claimed 10 to 12 hours studying per day. In reality I caught her more than once just staring out of the window, not really studying. For her that was part of "studying" but in reality it isn't.

      Personally, I still adhere to the 4h/day effective work. If you have worked fully concentrated on your work for 4h during the work day, you did have a productive day. At least in my eyes.

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:53AM (#30667602)

        In reality I caught her more than once just staring out of the window, not really studying. For her that was part of "studying" but in reality it isn't.

        I was taking second level "window studies" as a subsid to my sociology degree you insensitive clod.

      • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:57AM (#30667618)

        This "Ask Slashdot" is a typical reaction of someone who is very very new to the workforce and doesn't understand (yet) it has a human component.

        Clearly I learnt something useful on my placement year :-).

        One of the contractors said to me, "do you realise they only employ you because you cost half what I cost? You're currently working twice as hard as well, next time I walk past your desk I ought to see Facebook, not Java".

        (I was also surprised that working was less stressful than studying. Of course, I had less free time -- I was at work from 9:30 to 17:30, plus I spent longer travelling, but at 17:30 I would walk out and not need to worry about work until 9:30 the next day. My free time at university was spent thinking "I shouldn't be doing this, I've got a project/revision/etc to do")

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FShort ( 91112 )

          Nice attitude by that contractor. No wonder IT jobs are being shipped overseas to people that are willing to work twice as hard for 1/5th the pay.

          • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:39AM (#30668664)

            LOL @ twice as hard!

            No disrespect to our non-western programming chums, I've worked with great programmers of a lot of different nationalities. The thing about outsourcing to the far east and india is that all the good people already left for the western economies where they get paid more.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by BobMcD ( 601576 )

              all the good people already left for the western economies where they get paid more

              I heard they're returning, though, due to the slump. They earn less over at home, but their cost of living is lower and they would stand a decent shot at being a manager instead of a production employee.

          • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @12:36PM (#30671072)

            Nice attitude by that contractor. No wonder IT jobs are being shipped overseas to people that are willing to work twice as hard for 1/5th the pay.

            Yeah. They had real work ethic in the early days of Industrial Revolution: 16-hour work days and the rest of the time spent on-call in case of fire or something, none of this "safety regulation" stuff, the manager could ask you to bend over (literally) anytime to get himself a little extra morality boost perk, and the children also worked rather than waste time in school or playing! And when you got injured or crippled by those machines with no profit-eating safety devices, you didn't suck on public teat by expecting to be fed, no: you starved to death so your betters didn't need to pay taxes. Then Marx went and invented communism, and suddenly everyone is afraid workers rather than treating them as the subhuman wage slaves they are, and giving them things like rises and social security!

            Good thing we can outsource to India, China and Africa to help return us to those glory days when hads were gods and had-nots were nothing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Seakip18 ( 1106315 )

          Quite true.

          My first "IT" job, during my Sophomore year, was a contract gig doing simple office installs across four floors.

          The contract was for 4 weeks, a week each floor for both me and a fellow friend of mine.

          By the end of the first week, we had completed 3 floors and that Friday, went to our supervisor to report we were way ahead of contract schedule.

          His response was simple and eye opening-"Don't work yourself out of a job. It sets up a bad precedent that you might not be able to keep up with."

          I'm all fo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by beelsebob ( 529313 )


      The Idea that if people are browsing the internet, or having a coffee break, they aren't working is *bull*. Programming is hard... It needs problems to go round in your head for a while before you settle on the right way to do something. Doing something idle is *exactly* what's needed to get that to happen.

      Programmer productivity is not measured in: lines of code written
      Programmer productivity is not measured in: amount of time spent not browsing the web

      Programmer productivity *is* measured in: Actua

      • by dintech ( 998802 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:37AM (#30667506)

        browsing the Internet

        Oh dear. 90% of the people reading this are probably at work.

        Nerd Rage in 5... 4...

      • by aurispector ( 530273 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:39AM (#30667518)

        You guys are a bunch of lazy assholes. The guy even says they miss deadlines and the code they produce is crap. Of course people rarely work full out for an entire day, but he's clearly describing a situation far worse than normal. The organization obviously lacks leadership and focus because tolerance of this sort of behavior comes from the top.

        Why is it that coders typically seem to have enormous egos when it comes to their work. Everybody works hard. There's nothing special about coding. My workday include tasks that are both physically and mentally taxing, I often juggle several tasks at once and am held to a very high standard of quality. Man up, buckle down and produce because you don't work in a vacuum.

      • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:41AM (#30667530)


        Try to code your ass off for 8h straight every day and you'll end up tired, burned out and making a huge number of mistakes where you haven't thought things through properly.

        You can do it for a while after you first start working perhaps, I know I did and I was more productive for a while, but you can't keep it up forever and frankly if you can stay interested, inspired and creative for four hours a day your doing bloody well!

        I know one or two people who are the exception to this. They seem to live for their work and revolve their lives around it much more than most. They are very highly valued but they are not always promoted first or given the best opportunities. They also seem to be the types with little to do when not at work.

        • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:01AM (#30667634)

          I know one or two people who are the exception to this. They seem to live for their work and revolve their lives around it much more than most. They are very highly valued but they are not always promoted first or given the best opportunities. They also seem to be the types with little to do when not at work.

          I worked with someone like that. If he ever stopped for a chat it would be about the pros and cons of using a linked list or a circular buffer in various circumstances or something like that. I found out later that when he went home he programmed open source projects. He was the ideal programmer, accurate and highly productive. He needed careful management however because he was only a programmer. A manager once asked him to discuss requirements with a user and both came away angry, the programmer because the user "was being ambiguous" and the user because the programmer "wasn't listening".

          • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:07AM (#30667666)

            I work with one who turns his brain to the whole thing, design, methodology, requirements, coding, testing. Highly, highly valuable. Not the world's best team lead, and no life to speak of outside of going to see his parents once in a while.

            I'd hire him in a second, were I in charge of a company, and promote hime way up the technical chain. He's that good. But I don't want to be him.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by swb ( 14022 )

              He sounds like the kind of guy that shows up with a sawed-off shotgun one day and pulps the office.

      • by fabs64 ( 657132 ) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:19AM (#30667724)

        The solutions to so many design problems pop into my head while I'm walking to get coffee or on my lunchbreak it's not funny.

        • by SuurMyy ( 1003853 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @08:00AM (#30667962) Homepage

          I used to smoke and very often I figured things out when I got up from my desk and went for a smoke. Another old regular was that I figured things out when I was walking home, about 300 meters along the way. Nowadays a common time is in the morning brushing my teeth. So there's a lot of stuff happening in the background and what's on the foreground may be distracting. I also often take the old pen and paper way when I really need to design something or when I need to figure out a hard problem. For some reason when the problems are really hard changing your approach can help.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ignavus ( 213578 )

          The solutions to so many design problems pop into my head while I'm walking to get coffee or on my lunchbreak it's not funny.

          The shower. Best place to solve programming problems. Because there is no keyboard to distract you from the problem. You are just standing there, mind in idle mode ... so your mind plays with problems and doesn't get hung up about having to solve them right now.

    • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:38AM (#30667512) Journal

      I'm not necessarily sure you read the full question. From the information contained there, it sounds like the big part of the problem is that the work isn't getting done; at least not to the quality that's needed.

      I've been in a similar situation once before, early in my career, when I came as a relatively junior member of staff into a part of my organisation that had a really toxic, time-wasting culture. And despite what you may think, ill-disciplined working habits were a big part of that. I understand that people like to structure their days differently and that properly managed, this can make people more productive, but there needs to be some form of control exercised to prevent people from crossing the line into taking liberties. By all means, show toleration of slightly eccentric working patterns, people listening to ipods at their desk and a moderate amount of personal web-browsing, provided it doesn't start to eat up most of the day. But if the job isn't getting done, remedial action is needed to break the culture. And yes, in the short term, this might involve imposing a draconian regime (with rigidly set hours, dress code etc), which can be relaxed slightly back to a more normal level once it's safe to do so.

      The problem is that if you have come in at a junior level, there's almost nothing you can do, particularly if your management chain are complicit in the culture. Personally, when I found myself in that situation, I transferred sidewards to another part of the organisation after a few months; I didn't want my reputation to be tarnished, and was worried that the lack of self-discipline shown by my co-workers would rub off on me. About 18 months later, the head of the division in question was replaced, with his replacement apparently having a specific brief to clean the area up. So yes, working hours were suddenly enforced more rigidly than anywhere else in the organisation, dress codes were were imposed, music at desks was banned, all personal web-browsing was blocked and so on. About half of the staff resigned in protest (we weren't in a recession at the time), while the other half knuckled down and became more productive. 18 months after that, the area looked more or less like the rest of the wider organisation.

      The message: sometimes "I work differently to other people" is just code for "I don't want to do any work". Learn to recognise the difference and stamp ruthlessly on the latter. Also, understand that if not monitored, the former can develop into the latter over time.

      Oh, and working the odd late night or weekend can, in the right situation, do your career a power of good. Try not to make it a habit, but a willingness to do so when actually required will usually be noticed.

  • Websites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mxh83 ( 1607017 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:12AM (#30667362)
    Many people browse IT websites at work. In this industry, how to you propose we keep ourselves updated? You sound like one of those irritating prudes who can't understand how the normal world works.
    • Re:Websites (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kijori ( 897770 ) <ward.jake@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @08:08AM (#30668002)

      Many people browse IT websites at work. In this industry, how to you propose we keep ourselves updated? You sound like one of those irritating prudes who can't understand how the normal world works.

      Firstly, if you're meeting deadlines and producing quality code then this seems reasonable - but the submitter specifically states that his colleagues aren't. A lot of people here seem to be over-generalising this - it isn't an attack on IT in general, it's a specific case where people have taken things too far and their work is suffering.

      Secondly, the majority of web browsing isn't them keeping themselves updated. I know it wasn't when I was working as a programmer, and I'm sure it isn't for you either. Even if you are working on a huge, over-arching project that uses dozens of different components and a wide variety of ideas there's no way they change often enough to justify more than 10-20 minutes web browsing a day. That isn't to say there aren't other uses of the internet for an IT worker, or even that personal use of the web should be banned - people need to relax from time to time. Just that if you aren't meeting your deadlines because you're on the web all day it's time to stop pretending it's helping you and accept that you need to knuckle down.

  • Get use to it ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ls671 ( 1122017 ) * on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:12AM (#30667364) Homepage

    It's the same in every field of activity (banks, everything), not only in IT.

    I admit it might be hard to realize at first but you should get use to it eventually ! ;-)

  • Oblig XKCD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:14AM (#30667370) Homepage

    http://xkcd.com/303/ [xkcd.com]

    I'm starting to wonder if there is a case where no XKCD comic applies.

  • by dsavi ( 1540343 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:14AM (#30667372) Homepage
    Hopefully they will see this while browsing /. during work and straighten their ways. I mean, that happens all the time, doesn't it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by n3tcat ( 664243 )

      Hopefully they will see this while browsing /. during work and straighten their ways. I mean, that happens all the time, doesn't it?

      Well, this anonymous Ask Slashdot could really be any office with any noob who's complaining that they're the new bitch.

      So here's hoping that several hundred office noobs take shit for this article today.

      Way to spread the wealth buddy!

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:16AM (#30667380)

    The more real work which is done, the less it's worth. As a supplier of work it makes no sense for you to reduce the value of that work.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:18AM (#30667396)

    It's you, isn't it. You're the little douche bag who keeps bitching about us taking breaks. We actually have a pool going on how many times you'll say yes to extra hours before you crack. Hey, you got something brown on your nose.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:21AM (#30667408)

    This is how the world of work is. In time you'll fit in. As the new boy, expect to take the crap. You won't always be the new boy. Until then don't be a pain in the arse trying to get everyone else to change.

  • Normal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CountHiss ( 110786 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:22AM (#30667416)

    This is just the way it goes - nobody is able to do the same routine job they've been doing for a while for more than say a cumulative 6 hours a day. Taking a break to say read slashdot (= keeping up with developments), socialising, talking about football (= good for teambuilding!) relaxes the mind and will allow for another few hours of good, concentrated work. If you want to make a career, better to join in occasionally, otherwise you'll be the odd one out, the one who won't be part of the team, and, importantly, the snotty just-out-of-school kid who thinks he knows better that everyone loves to hate. Which in end-effect you are because a. you have no experience, b. no life-experience and c. you don't keep up with developments, whether it be professional (slashdot reading!) or social (talking about football, the families and so forth). So, relax, get used to it and participate as much as you can without screwing up your own portion of the work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:23AM (#30667424)

    Glad you got that degree aren't you?

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:25AM (#30667442)

    I used to work in an IT research group in a university. All of us were single or in relaxed relationships where the other partner was also a professional, so there was no pressure to keep to 'school run' times, pick up kids, get home for set meal times etc. Which meant we worked erratic and long hours. Some days we'd kick back and mess around, other days we'd work late, weekends etc.

    We got a new guy in who laid down the rules politely but firmly with the boss. He said "I've got a 3 year old son and he's the most important thing in my life. I'll come in early, and I'll work hard from 8.30 til 5.00 and if you need me to do more hours I'll even come in earlier. But I leave here at 5.30 to get home for his meal and I don't work weekends because I spend time with my family".

    The guy got a lot of respect for his stance, and he was true to his word. He'd come in bang on time, work damn hard, not goof around when we were kicking back, and leave prompt on 5.30. We all knew if we needed his help on a project we couldn't leave it til 5.25, we had to get organised and get our questions to him for lunchtime.

    I think you should do the same - tell the boss you'll work the hours and you'll work hard while you're in the office but you have other commitments and you'll not be able to pull all nighters. You'll be respected for it. And if they say that this isn't fair, and you should be prepared to sacrifice your life to the job, you should be looking out for other employment.

  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:25AM (#30667444) Journal

    In my experience, this is common. I've been at both ends. The weekend working newbie employee, and the casual relaxed contractor not busting my ass.

    There are a number of reasons for the perceived slack of attention that you notice. One main one, which relates to something you don't necessarily learn in college, is that even in a technical environment surrounded by socially awkward geeks/nerds, there is a necessity for social bonding. It can make the work day less stressful, lead to cross-pollination of ideas, outside perspectives on problems you've been working with, etc...

    We tend not to value these things when we're fresh faced and eager to code 40 hours straight. Give me a problem and let me solve it. But the older you get, the more you realise the advantages in it. For one thing, as we get older, our brains require some distraction to avoid burnout. Even when coding, sometimes you need to take a break before the subconscious can solve a problem you've been consciously wrestling with.

    Basically, there's a reason management tolerate it. They've learned that if they crack down on this sort of behaviour, and start clock watching themselves (monitoring lunch breaks, toilet breaks, net usage, phone usage, etc...) the company suffers. Either because humans will strive to find ways around rules they perceive as unnecessarily restrictive, or the really talented guys get depressed and move somewhere else.

    My 40 hour working week these days is very different to my 80 hour working week 15 years ago. I may not produce as much code, solve as many bugs, etc... But I have a good idea of everything that's going on in my department. I am regularly asked for advise by colleagues on technical matters. I know which of my co-workers are good people, who are the experts and in which fields, and which are assholes. I know who can be relied upon, and who can rely on me. Basically, I'm better at being able to bring my years of experience to bear on different problems. And that doesn't require me to knuckle down and concentrate fully on these problems for 40 hours in isolation.

  • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:34AM (#30667484) Homepage Journal

    Having worked in numerous fields (probably more than the IT workers who have thus far replied) I can say without a doubt that IT consists of the biggest bunch of slackers I've ever in my life seen. I enjoy it quite a bit, but I'm actually getting to a point where I'm starting to feel a little guilty. But only a little.

  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:35AM (#30667490)
    I know, I've been asked if I'm feeling okay by colleagues when seemingly all I did was to stare into the empty space, at the window or someplace else. In reality, I was working more efficiently than most of them, preferring to think about a problem before I try to implement a solution for it. Probably 90% of the work I do is designing a good architecture, making sure it's fast, scalable, robust, flexible and maintainable enough. This requires weighting dozens of different factors and thinking about a lot of "action at a distance" kind of problems.

    I love my job. I would do it even if I wouldn't receive financial compensation for it. One drawback is that you can't really work office hours with it, it's hard to switch off iterating a problem in the back of your mind (resulting in several House-esque moments of some totally unrelated thing reminding me to a neat concept that helps me implement an elegant solution).

    I guess the point is, different people work differently. Yeah, if someone's browsing for porn or looking at bash.org, they are probably not doing anything useful, but taking a break or if someone looks like he's idling, it's not always the case that they are not doing anything productive.
  • by PeteV ( 1704822 ) <pete...valerio@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:46AM (#30667572)
    I've been on both sides of this, as a developer and as a manager: first off, its wholly impractical and counter-productive to try and control every thing staff do. The more controls you impose, the more time you spend policing the rules - and all that does is make for a miserable unproductive environment. One of the first rules of a "happy" productive team, a happy engineering team, is mutual trust between those doing the work and those responsible for ensuring it gets done - its a quid pro quo. And at the end of the day, in my experience, good engineers WANT to work, want to solve problems, want to design, they/we get a kick from it, job satisfaction if you will, pride in a job well done. And every single engineer needs "think" time - chaining people to a rigid set of work methods really doesnt work (unless you are working on a production line). THAT said, it is certainly true that some offices/teams are poor, thats the nature of things - and if productivity is low and people are just taking the p*** then sooner or later the manager gets replaced and the situation is rectified or the good engineers move on. My teams get total freedom, the senior designers have the flex to work from home too. But i know exactly who is and who is not productive - and I get rid of engineers who dont pull their weight - its that simple (and very rare). And that never causes an issue with the others, and nor did it when I was a "grunt" - in fact, you dont want idiots in around you who dont do any work. Gauging productivity is the managers job and responsibility - they should be able to do it, they should have a range of choices/skills/options that allow them to improve it when needed. As a new person with little industry experience your assessment may be premature - I would say dont jump to instant conclusions or be too judgemental, it may well be you've landed in a poor office - and in due course you will either understand that to be the case and move on to a better place, or you will adjust. Bottom line, if you're unhappy and remain unhappy, find somewhere else.
  • by simoncpu was here ( 1601629 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:47AM (#30667574)
    Do your female officemates have questionable work ethics as well? If so, then you're in good company!
  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:00AM (#30667632)

    ... and having worked in at least 12 different companies by now, i can tell you that:

    a) It depends on the company - company culture, profit margins and the business the company are in all make for more or less hectic enviroments in the IT areas (and others).
    b) It depends on the morale of the employees. Recessions actually mean that there are more unmotivated workers around since many which would otherwise left will stay put until "the storm passes".
    c) It the depends on the point of the development cycle you are on. For all you know, a week before you joined people were over-stressed and working long hours to make a release and now they are in the decompression period before a new major project is started.

    Also and to put it plainly: as a recent graduate you know nothing working in IT.

    Let me break this too you now before you learn it the hard way:

    • You'll have to unlearn a lot before you're a proper professional
    • Activity is not the same as Productivity. To give you an easy to understand example: if a guy is breaking stone in a quarry with a hammer the whole day without stopping, he still vastly underproduces the guy that does it for 2 hours with a jackhammer and then loafs about the rest of the day. Working smart always beats working hard.
    • If you're really good, people will take advantage of your innocence, ignorance and eagerness to overwork you to death. The funny bit is that, because you have no real professional experience (and due to overwork), you will make all the mistakes in the book and somebody (maybe you yourself) will inherit a POS that they will have to fix.
  • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:20AM (#30667730)

    Working as a developer back in the 1900s, I had free subscriptions to some relevant magazines. Yes, the time I spent reading them was time I didn't spend coding, but it meant I kept abreast of developments in the field, which was a Good Thing as far as my employers were concerned.

    Slashdot's "news for nerds" and "stuff that matters" are generally more useful, and certainly more timely, than those magazines ever were. I'm not in IT any more, but I'm close enough to it that people still appreciate and value me knowing what's up in technology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tim C ( 15259 )

      Working as a developer back in the 1900s

      I knew the low UIDers here were generally old, but I didn't realise just how old...

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:22AM (#30667746) Journal

    You sure you've chosen the right profession? Sounds to me like you want to be in management, you'll fit right in.

  • by Inda ( 580031 ) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:27AM (#30667764) Journal
    Something I learned a long, long time ago was don't worry about your peers. Just do your work and don't worry about anyone else. Don't go crying to your boss, he'll already know the score.

    Turn up on time, do your work, go home, get paid. You'll be happier with this attitude.

    You probably already know that life is not fair and some people seem to get all the breaks. Life is not fair. Take it on the chin. Play the cards you have in your hand.
  • Subject (Score:5, Funny)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:36AM (#30667822) Homepage

    "I would like to ask Slashdot what methods others have used to deal with office environments such as this."

    I usually dump my extra work on the new guy so I have more time to relax and goof off. You should pressure your company to hire someone newer than yourself.

  • When I were a lad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:46AM (#30667876)

    It gets worse... much worse. When I was working for a leading multinational computer vendor back in the 1980s, I distinctly recall beavering away at work while other team members chatted over coffee. I felt rather superior and smug, thinking "Well, even if they are letting the side down, I am making sure the work gets done".

    You could have knocked me over with a feather when, at my next review, my supervisor criticized me sharply for my anti-social behaviour. He told me I should relax, chat more with the others, and generally be more human. The strong implication was that I had actually been undermining morale by failing to socialize and, perhaps, by making some of the others feel guilty.

    As time went by, I found it tempting and easy to start slacking myself - especially if I was getting no credit, but actually harming my career prospects, by working flat out all shift (and sometimes several hours beyond).

    That's how Wally came to be the way he is today!

  • by Dr_Ken ( 1163339 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @08:04AM (#30667986) Journal
    ...and we'll see what he says then. It always looks different when you're outside looking in. Talk to us after your first layoff kiddo.
  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @08:27AM (#30668112)

    Ask the people at your workplace. I keep an eye on various relevant technical and social issues with Slashdot, and it keeps me on my toes to chat with sharp people here who know about other fields. A certain amount of slack at work while my code is compiling or my brain is working on other fields seems harmless, and I normally put in plenty of after hours work to cover any missed worktime. Conversely, you may be right about people slacking off: it can be due to many reasons, such as genuine frustration at not being allowed to do anything useful or watching their good ideas being thrown out by an incompetent manager.

    Also, IT work is often like firefighting. You spend a lot of time cooking meals and reading magazines and keeping yourself and your equipment fit, and then at disaster time you and your equipment are supposed to go all out with skills and _plans_ to fix things and recover data. That on-call time can be valuable, too.

  • by RedCuber ( 1487889 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @08:36AM (#30668168) Homepage
    I'm sure this will probably be an unpopular comment.. but it starts from the Top. I've recently joined a large investment bank in London (transferred back from the US) and it's IT dept 'was' run in a very similar manor. Lots of screwing around, no customer focus and a second-rate service. If management are willing to tolerate it, and are not willing to put in the extra hours/effort to fix the culture of the department, nothing will change. I'm management and it's a continual up-hill struggle to motivate not only the team, but also the other managers. Happy to report though, we're making progress. If i were the grad, either work your ass off to rise above the clutter, or ride the wave of bone-idol. Good luck!
  • by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:13AM (#30668434)

    If everybody worked hard for 40 hours a week, 25% of the working population could do 100% of the work, and we'd have a 75% unemployment rate. Or 75% of the population in marketing.

  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:19AM (#30668474) Homepage

    We were openly encouraged by the boss -- a lesser geek himself -- to use company time and equipment to screw off. To his perspective, if it encouraged loyalty and relaxation while dealing with tough projects, so be it.

    I've seen some very tightly wound geeks in my time. Especially among the talented ones. I think if a business has to err on this issue, it's probably wiser to err on the side of relaxation.

  • by The Grim Reefer2 ( 1195989 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:24AM (#30668522)
  • Peopleware (Score:3, Informative)

    by lwriemen ( 763666 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:41AM (#30668692)

    Read Peopleware by DeMarco and Lister, and then take another look at your workplace.

  • IT vs. factory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:44AM (#30668726)

    You're entering the Information Technology field, not a factory to produce widgets.
    IT requires creative thinking and, in my experience, creativity comes when you think and create a solution to a problem.
    The next stage is implementing the solution via coding, building, or other processes.

    What you seem to be expecting is everyone bent over their keyboard, hammering away at the keys, for 8 straight hours a day. That's the mentality of someone who works on an assembly line.

  • by Vermyndax ( 126974 ) <[vermyndax] [at] [galaxycow.com]> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @09:56AM (#30668826) Homepage

    I jumped from the broadcast industry to the software industry once and had the same thought... I was shocked at how much time was spent in hallway discussions and whatnot.

    Then I realized most of the discussions from the developers were centered around the code itself and creative approaches to solving problems. The sales and management folks were the ones walking around and talking about football. I decided this was part of the job. But you're right, there is a lot of time wasted in hallway discussions. ...and so, like they said earlier... enjoy your Sundays working...

  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:46AM (#30669388) Homepage

    Is my situation unique or is it common across the industry?

    Not unique but not extremely common. Your team is clearly broken and your management isn't being measured against stated goals therefore your teammates are not measured by against their sub-goals. I presume the group is failing to record and reiterate--on a daily basis--the tasks identified to accomplish them. What you need is to adopt a system that surfaces who is working on what, what the volume of work is, and how much time is required. In our group, we use scrum to manage that. You can use something else but your team should be using something as opposed to nothing and allowing chaos to reign.

    Scrum is not perfect and occasionally it can be annoying (such as after having a bad day and not having progress to show), but it's simple and incurs a relatively low overhead demand on bookkeeping. We use it because it helps everyone stay informed of the bigger picture by what user stories we're working on. It gives us a visual feel of how much work there is to do, helps enforce who is working on what, and shows our progress within the sprint at a daily resolution. It also helps develop a log of milestones, and improves individual productivity because it strongly emphasizes priorities first and makes it obvious who's getting things done, who's spinning their wheels on difficult problems, and who's blocked by teammate or external dependencies.

    More importantly, it's designed for sculpting a team that self-organizes and self-manages. Since your team's management is weak, pushing for self-organization is important. You will need buy-in at many levels, but you may find if you write a proposal with your recommendation and argue why it's needed, you might flesh out supporters who needed prodding.

    Doing this will show initiative and motivation. You will stand out amongst your more experienced but lazy teammates. A good developer provides well written recommendations that identifies a particular problem, argues why it is a problem, enumerates a list of solutions, and finishes by selecting one of them. Unless your recommendation is ridiculous, issuing it should give you a boost by showing you have leadership skills. Management not recognizing that would truly indicate a broken team.

    Scrum is not likely to be done well unless someone on the team goes through the training, so if I were you I would recommend the team experiment with selecting and using a software development model (Agile/Scrum/XP/RUP/etc). Shipping a few developers off for training, or bringing in a trainer for a few days would be a good idea.

    Give it a year. If in the end you cannot cause change, then log it as a learning experience and move on. Use what you saw to identify the same symptoms during your next job search.

    Being the 'new guy,' I get stuck with much of the weekend and after-hours grunt work when we inevitably miss deadlines or produce poor code

    The new guy always tends to get stuck with the less interesting or maintenance work. That's expected because you haven't proven your value or had a chance to build relationships. It can take time to learn the system before taking on high profile tasks, but it's absolutely unacceptable if they expect you to work more hours than they work. If you're pulling weekends and they aren't then that's an abusive situation. Part of getting ahead is showing leadership and drive, but the other part is knowing how to play the defensive game by proving due diligence on your part and pushing back when required.

  • by barzok ( 26681 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:50AM (#30669446)

    Being the 'new guy,' I get stuck with much of the weekend and after-hours grunt work when we inevitably miss deadlines or produce poor code.

    As you're also a recent graduate, I'm guessing that you're also single or at most have a girlfriend you're not living with, and have no kids. Probably very few other family obligations too.

    I've been there. Got shat on endlessly. Everyone else takes advantage of your situation, saying "I can't work that weekend/late tonight, I have to do something with my kids" or something like that. You're stuck on-call every week, working late 3 days a week, working every Sunday, all because everyone sees your non-work life as less important because you don't have a spouse or kids.

    You need to put a stop to it. Don't refuse every time you're asked, but at least once a month if you're asked to work a weekend, you need to say no. Tell them you're going away skiing for the weekend with friends. You have to go visit your ailing grandmother. Even if it's not true. They tell you someone has to stay late on Wednesday? "Sorry, that's my dinner/poker night with the guys."

    If a disproportionate amount of the after-hours/weekend work is falling on your shoulders, go to your supervisor. Being a team player is important - being a doormat is dangerous.

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:53AM (#30669476)

    Software Development is hard work, so is construction. How often do you drive by a work site and see half the crew standing around and chatting? Fairly often I would bet. The rest of the time they are busting their ass. Software development is the same, except its the muscle between your ears you have to flex. It is part of the job, get used to it. There will be idle time, you will need to decompress.

  • by Atrox666 ( 957601 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @10:54AM (#30669492)

    I used to kill myself. Work my ass off. I accepted excuses as to why I couldn't get a raise or a promotion even though I was told I earned one. People I learned were making big bonuses were telling me there was no money for bonuses. Then the excuses started to pile up year after year and I watched other people who worked less and had less responsibility get paid more because they were not IT. I watched it happen to all my co-workers too so I know it wasn't something I was doing. So if I can't get paid more I just give less. I'm naturally a hard worker so I had to train myself but now I'm happy to say I am taking advantage of the fucking parasites who were ever so happy to take advantage of me. It's not a good relationship or the one I would have chosen but at least I'm no longer the bitch. I'd type more but I got in late so it's almost time for my coffee break.

  • by RabidMonkey ( 30447 ) <canadaboy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:07AM (#30669644) Homepage

    In my office, I see the same thing. Myself and some others tend to be heads down, work work work, but that's because we have a LOT of work to do, and only 8 hours a day to get it done in. The joys of working in a large production environment that is constantly growing

    Beside our group are 2 groups of people who work in labs, testing things before they go into prod. they seem to frequently have time to stand around, chat, have lunch (what a novelty!) etc, while myself and a couple others rarely have enough free time to grab some lunch and eat it in peace.

    For a long time, it drove me nuts (and still does when I'm having a hectic day and hear them laughing it or, or worse, they come into our group just to chat), but I came to the conclusion that so long as i am getting what I have committed to doing done, I don't care what others do. My teamlead and manager have set expectations, I have my own expectations, and so long as I meet those, then I am content. It can get frustrating when work isn't evenly distributed, but I look at that as partly my fault, for taking on extra work and striving to deliver something that doesn't simply meet requirements. I can't fault others for my own expectations.

    Plus, I decided to try and join them occasionally for social time,and find that it actually helps. When everyone is standing around chatting, I not only get a break, but I get to know my coworkers better, so when I, or they, need help with a problem, it's much easier to approach and relate and get things done quickly. It's a tradeoff in time, and I use it liberally, but it's good to get up from my desk and give my brain a break sometimes.

    The sooner you realize that you can't change how others work, only how you work, and that some people will always seem to get away with doing nothing for some reason, the sooner you'll find comfort/peace in the workplace. If you really want to fix things, work your way into a TL position, or even just a leadership position of some sort, so you can nudge people the way you think they should go. ultimately though, it's up to the person, and their manager, to adjust a work ethic.

    Best of luck!

  • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:37AM (#30670108) Homepage Journal

    Ignore the haters telling you to relax and join the herd. They wouldn't know what a hard day's work or real productivity looks like anyhow, so you can't turn to them for good advice on making use of your solid work ethic. They'll do nothing but try to bring you down to their level because you make them look bad or face the uncomfortable truth that they suck at their chosen profession. Look to people giving you positive advice that will let you grow and succeed.

    That said, don't bust your ass doing a buch of work for lazy coworkers who will take credit for your sweat and/or managers too corrupt or stupid to notice what you're doing. These people will suck your soul and waste your valuable time during these years when you could be learning so much about how to reach new levels of personal performance. If you're going to stay where you are, you need to "manage up" to see if you can start getting noticed for the job you're doing. Avoid the temptation to take on a lot of small tasks in your current environment. You'll never get any more credit for all the hard work than the guy next to you who simply manages to look busy but web surfs half the day. Get your manager's agreement to break down the current project into specific pieces that you can take ownership of and deliver apart from your coworkers. That way, when you deliver your piece it's obvious who did it, how well it works, and how on time it was. On a technical level, it's also great to break things out anyway to avoid overly tight component coupling.

    Maneuvering things so that you can better benefit from your work ethic involves some politicking, which sucks, but you don't want to be used by those around you and never get anything out of it.

    If you spend a few months working the personal ownership angle and it gets you nowhere, then you may need to cut your losses and switch to another company. My personal preference is to work at small companies where you can negotiate for better merit-based rewards like stock options, profit sharing, or performance bonuses. At a small company, your efforts will be obvious and your opportunities to learn and succeed will be greater. You'll also find more people like you from whom you can learn at small companies. They'll be looking to create successful products rather than to just punch in to collect a paycheck. Screw-ups normally latch on to the big companies where they can fade into the cubicle farms.

    Look at the pathetic work ethic of your current environment as an opportunity to outshine them and people like them.

    Good luck!

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken