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How many hours did you work this week? 583

Posted by JonKatz
from the the-booming-economy's-dirty-little-secret dept.
If you're reading this, you're probably what economists call a "Knowledge Worker," a major element of the new, techno-driven workplace. The government says your average work week is 32.9 hours, and employers enthusiastically agree. Nuts. Thanks to laptops, cellphones, palm pilots and wireless modems, you're probably working nearly all the time, part of every day and night. How many hours do you really work? Post below and read more.

If you're reading this, the odds are shockingly good that you're overworked and underpaid, or, at the very least, not compensated for anywhere near the hours you work.

Government statisticians, media reports and popular mythology make much of the fact that American workers are more productive than ever - the last consecutive quarters of l999 recorded a 5% growth in worker productivity. This rise frequently gets cited as a major reason for the country's long, high-tech inspired economic boom.

In the late l990's, according to economist Stephen S. Roach, productivity sped up fastest in the so-called service sector - transportation, public utilities, trade, finance, insurance, real estate, and a broad array of professional and business services. Collectively, this segment of the economy employs 77% of the workforce that isn't in government or on farms. Contrary to myth, Roach says, these people aren't low-paid, unskilled hamburger flippers and chain-store underclass. Nearly half of them are knowledge workers - like many of the people reading this - now the largest occupational category in America. In fact, almost all tech workers, from programmers to administrators to developers, are knowledge workers.

The government maintains that the average work week in the service sector is 32.9 hours; no different than a decade ago, and five hours shorter than in l964.

Roach and other economists have long argued that these figures are absurd. Surveys by the Labor Department and private pollsters suggest that people in knowledge jobs work a good deal longer. That means lots of knowledge workers aren't getting paid for the work they do.

"The dirty little secret of the Information Age," wrote Roach in Monday's New York Times [you have to join, but it's www.nytimes.com] , "is that an increasingly large slice of work goes on outside the official work hours the government recognizes and employers admit to."

Roach has a very powerful point. Laptops, cell phones and beepers, hand-held computing devices, fax machines and wireless technology mean that tech and knowledge workers can now work all the time - in their cars on the way to and from work, in planes on business trips, in their own homes. Tech and service workers are tied to their workplaces, and can hardly ever escape.

Although few companies openly insist on this, workers who want to remain valuable are understandably driven to work through nights and weekends. If they don't, they know their colleagues and co-workers might be. People hard- wired into their work are commonplace in the tech workplace, a particularly challenging environment for obsessive personalities. In fact, new technology has nearly obliterated all of the traditional lines between office and home, work and leisure time. This is a phenomenal boon to employers and companies, who get more work than ever for less cost. In that context, almost all non-entrepeneurial workers in the so-called knowledge workplace are almost surely underpaid.

College students report something of the same phenomenon - technology keeps them studying, socializing, messaging and researching much of the time, much more than is acknowledged by school administrations.

In fact, this round-the-clock work ethic is an integral part of the high-tech economy. Does anyone reading this actually work 33 hours a week? Or even 40?

Postal employees, cops and assembly-line and factory workers can boost their incomes by working overtime. But how can knowledge workers, who are already working most of the time? Workers who think for a living have a hard time boosting their efficiency.

Beyond that, there are numerous social and health implications: fatigue, stress, single-mindedness, and lack of balance and recreation in life.

Perhaps the toughest thing about being a round-the-clock knowledge worker is that you can't even acknowledge it. The rest of the world, including media and government, thinks you've got it made.

Question: How many hours do you work each week? Is it remotely close to what the government says?

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How many hours did you work this week?

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  • flash forward about 10 years or so, i am now the CTO of an internet startup, getting paid way more than i "deserve" by my old scale, and yet all i do is, sit on the phone, talk to the people that work for me, talk to the people i work for, and think... and for me, there is no difference between home and work. i understand now what my father told me so many years ago...

    So that would make you umm, a CTO at age 16 or 17? hehe. (assuming you were asking those questions at age 6 or 7...hopefully not at age 20!) [GRIN]

    -Davidu
  • I have to totally agree with Jon on this one. I've been in graduate school since 1993 (MS ECE, working on PhD in genetics), and anyone who's going to work "only" 20 hours a week will never graduate, although that's what they pay you.

    For myself, I end up working between 35 hours (on my vacation weeks) to 80+ hours a week, averaging around 55-60. But then again, from the perspective of the Genetics Program I'm breaking all of the speed records.

    If you calculate out the amount I get paid hourly, it would come to about $5.50-$6.00 per hour. I'd be better off working at McDonalds (not that I'd want to).
  • I officially work 37.5 hours/week and am salaried so more work != more money. As for how much I work, well... due to some emergency bugfixes I worked 20 hours yesterday. so I guess with Monday's 10 hours, and the 4 hours I put in on Sunday just because I was bored, that I'm done for the week. I'm not complaining either, I love my job and it's rare that I'm 'forced' to work overtime. I just find it absurd to think that most of us work a 33 hour week. I'm not sure where those jobs are, but sign me up for two of em, I'm used 66 hour weeks anyway :-)
    ----------------------------
  • I officially work 37.5 hours/week and am salaried so more work != more money. As for how much I work, well... due to some emergency bugfixes I worked 20 hours yesterday. so I guess with Monday's 10 hours, and the 4 hours I put in on Sunday just because I was bored, that I'm done for the week.

    I'm not complaining either, I love my job and it's rare that I'm 'forced' to work overtime. I just find it absurd to think that most of us work a 33 hour week. I'm not sure where those jobs are, but sign me up for two of em, I'm used 66 hour weeks anyway :-)
    ----------------------------
  • I would say I work 80 - 100 hours a week, counting Slashdot time. But wait! Slashdot time *is* work for me.

    Last night I logged on at 11 p.m. or so to check the submissions page, and saw that CowboyNeal, CmdrTaco, and Hemos were also taking a look. Everybody who *works* on Slashdot puts in all kinds of crazy hours.

    In our case, the line between work and recreation is thin. Often they're one and the same.

    Does the IRC time I spend on #slashdot or #freshmeat count as work?

    Hmmm...

    - Robin

  • This is truly a useful place for your attention to be. You do know that there is an increasing backlash against IT workers _for_ getting high salaries and tending to be indispensable? This could be easily spun into anti-hacker, anti-geek attitudes. Already people talk about internet geeks like they are some haughty breed of nobility who crash servers for fun and are smart enough to be dangerous. I see fewer people talking about how they work like slaves...

    Also, you don't fully realise how far this problem goes. See Does Your Employer Own Your Thoughts? [unixguru.com]. Evan Brown is property of DSC Communications, for all intents and purposes, and _all_ hours of his life when employed by DSC were 'work'. That sounds implausible, but he signed off on a contract which gave DSC ownership of any thoughts he had, thinking it wasn't a problem as he was only employed to provide technical support for the Motorola Cellular Division software testing group, not to invent things. He did invent something, apparently a method to convert old computer code into new languages, and DSC first tried to buy the idea, and then fired him and sued him for it. The idea has never been written down and exists only in Evan's brain...

    As of January 20, 2000, Evan Brown is bankrupt and has sold everything he has but the farm on which he lives. On his 48th birthday, Judge Curt B. Henderson of the 219th Judicial District Court of the State of Texas has ordered him to work at DSC's PB-6 building in Plano without compensation for time, travel or expenses until he has documented his idea. Evan lives 3 hours from Plano. (I don't know from reading this if he has sold his car to pay legal expenses). He has also been ordered by the judge to write out his idea relating to DSC's product hardware (Zilog Z8000) as the machine executable binary code, rather than the Intel 8080 which Evan prefers.

    How many hours a week did _Evan Brown_ work? Rather, ask if, legally, there was a single minute of any day when he was _not_ at work.

    I know there are many Slashdot posters who respond to talk of collective bargaining and exploitation with cries of 'Wuss! Whiner! You go be a loser because we are tough and smart and better than most people and will take over the world by working 90 hours a week without compensation.' I would ask those people- have you read your contracts? Are you property, like Evan Brown's brain legally was? Can you set a price on that?

    Evan Brown was employed as technical support for the Motorola Cellular Division software testing group. That is exactly the sort of job we're all talking about here, and now there is legal precedent in Texas law that if your employer slipped in details about owning your ideas during the time of employment- they can legally fire you, bankrupt you, sue you for the ideas and get the courts to go along with it and _compel_ you to reveal anything you claimed to have, whether or not they can prove that you invented it 'on their time'. Effectively, you can sign off on a contract that makes your brain property of the company, and the US Government will back it. If you do, the company could come after you ten years later claiming that your current invention was made during the time you worked for them- and with the Evan Brown case as case law, they could win, so even quitting a job with such conditions does not necessarily get you off the hook. The company could legally come after you years later demanding the contents of your mind or seizing ownership of your inventions, based on their prior ownership of your mind and thoughts- and win.

    How's _that_ for an 80 hour week? :P

  • by Masem (1171) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:45AM (#1268620)
    I believe it's due to two factors: First, the IT field is made up by a lot of young ( Second, most of these workers are probably single. Life outside of work, they're not expected to have by management.

    I also think that there is no union as far as I know within tech workers.

    I wouldn't go as far as suggesting a union, but something needs to be done; the workers need to stand up and REFUSE to work unpaid overtime, or have a time where the beeper will not go off, or anything else like that. The fact that 'spineless' IT workers has been the norm means that we need to fight against that. If you are going to be working 60 hrs/wk (and you might enjoy that), make sure you get paid for 60hrs and not 30. Demand vacation time, make sure they know you have interests outside of work, and that you don't necessarily live and breath their work ethic.

    But as with everyone else employed, I'd know I'd be afraid to approach my bosses with such requests. That's why there needs to be some collective effort, maybe lead by those IT workers already engrained in the system so that *they* can fight for better pay and offtime for workers.

  • Yes, the demand for people with my particular skill set (Unix-TCP/IP + management knowledge) is massive. I am in the position of being able to walk out of my job at any time and get a new one with the same base salary in about a fortnight or less. Of course such a move would probably not look so hot on my c.v. but the fact that I can do it (and management knows I can) has a big impact.

    Also, it won't last. I give it about another five years at most, before either the market floods or business practices become more streamlined and the need to hire loads of people reduces.

    I'm rare, because when I was 16 and starting to choose career options, Unix was a black art as practised by a couple of distinctly weird kids in school. Everyone laughed at computer nerds. Now, the 16 year olds are hearing of cool entrepreneurs making easy fortunes. Many will have email addresses at home. The school I went to already has email for every child - where I once looked for my sports timetable on a pinboard they have it on an intranet.

    So, when those children get into the market place, it'll be a whole different ball game - and of course all my skills will be obsolete by then, too :-). I'm _really_ looking forward to it!
  • by Jon Peterson (1443) <jon&snowdrift,org> on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:44AM (#1268623) Homepage
    That is the heart of it, really. The people who work daft hours do it because they want to, or because they start out that way and then feel guilty about cutting back.

    We (skilled computer types) are a very rare resource compared with demand and can easily set reasonable hours as part of our package, especially at big companies. I leave the office at 5.30 every day, unless I'm doing something fun and I'd rather stay late to finish it in one go.

    Yes, at small companies people tend to work later to meet the deadlines. But that's because the industry is incapable of good project management, and because in many small (and large) companies employees feel very loyal, and really want to ship stuff on time.

    There are very few places (in my experience of the UK market) that will have a problem with someone who says 'Sorry, I have a family and I only work my contracted hours'. Of course, if they then also spend 2 hours a day reading slashdot, then sure the boss won't be happy.

    And that's another thing. Alot of people work very inefficiently, so the hours stretch out. Think of all the times you started out looking for documentation on a troublesome driver and ended up spending an hour reading about the latest developments in something else.

    So, yes, there are lots of people who stay in the office alot, but it's not a case of exploitation (of course in some cases it may be, but not as an industry).
  • Folks, this may be a first... Jon Katz has written an article that contains no first-person pronouns! Instead, he's actually writing about something that's relevant to those of us who aren't columnists!

    Wait a minute... What? He didn't use the word "geek" either? Hang on. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Jon Katz? :-)

    Sorry about the dig there, Jon, but seriously, I was impressed by how relevant this article was. I think one of the main reasons you've been criticized in the past has been the perception that you're mainly writing about yourself or some nebulous, ill-defined social group that you call "geeks" that you're hoping we will identify with. This article, on the other hand, clearly identifies the groups involved and doesn't waste space (well, not too much, anyway) with useless verbiage. Furthermore, it doesn't appear self-centered and narcissistic (which some of your columns have drifted dangerously close to, IMNSHO).

    Briefly: Congratulations, Jon, this is exactly the kind of article that I come to /. to read. Keep up this kind of thing.
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • <FX TYPE="voice" STYLE="revival meeting">
    Ayyyy-men! Preach it, brother!
    </FX>

    I'm still in college and single, so I don't have a family that I have to spend time with. But if / when I do, they are definitely going to be my #1 priority. My parents spent a lot of time with me and my sister when we were growing up, and I thank God daily for them. I never suffered all those insecurities of adolescence because I knew for a fact that my parents loved me no matter what. And I knew it because they made time to be with me. And if I ever have kids (and I hope to, someday), I will make sure I do the same for them.

    Pfhreakaz0id, I congratulate you on having your priorities right. May more people follow your example.
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • NT == No Text

    Why are you reading this?
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • Where I work (IBM UK if you must know), we fill in a weekly timesheet. It should add up to 37 hours a week, and if it doesn't I have to assume questions would get asked.

    Personally, I get all my work done (properly, too) during those 37 hours a week, *and* I get plenty of time to browse Slashdot, educate myself with O'Reilly books, and handle a modest amount of personal email while at work.
    --
  • Let's make this more interesting by taking a look at Bureau of Labour Statistics data. Go to http://146.142.4.24/cgi-bin/surveymost?pr and select "Nonfarm Business Output per Hour of All Persons % chq qtr ago" and "All years."

    You will get tables for annual productivity growth for all nonfram businesses since 1959.

    Using this, table, average annual productivity growth during the 90's was only 2.0%. In the 80's t was 1.4%, 2.0% for the 1970's, and 2.9% for the 1960's. The 90's growth in productivity isn't very spectacular, nor are the annualised quarterly rates of the last two quarters in 1999. Indeed, the only reason productivity growth even seems very high is because Reagan bungled the American economy so badly.

    Americans may be more productive than ever, but so is everyone. Productivity growth is normal, it's the rate of growth that's the useful statistic, and by that standard, things are only okay at best.

    So much for the idea that productivity is increasing faster than ever because of computers.
    - obviously it just ain't so.

    Now, we can retrieve statistics for average number of weekly hours worked from http://146.142.4.24/cgi-bin/surveymost?ee . The length of the work-week, on the average, hasn't changed much in the last decade.

    Please not that this is true for all sectors of the economy covered by the BLS.

    However, this is the average. For every overworked tech there is a burger flipper getting half as many hours as he wants. The median would be a helpful statistic here - but I can't get it from the BLS.

    Personally, I put in most 40 hour weeks, a few 60 hour ones, but mostly 40. I also took 3 weeks of vacation last year and days off around midterms and finals each term, so I figure its about even. On the average Americans aren't working much more than they used to, but I suspect the average covers up a lot of sectorial differences.

    It may be true that long work weeks are more standard in technology, but if so, it's being compensated by shorter weeks elsewhere. Non-electronics manufacturing is slowing down, and the loss of jobs there alone might compensate for the small number of people working in technology. Certainly, there is anecdotal evidence of large-scale overwork in certain parts of the computer industry, but remember that computing employs a very small percentage of Americans.

    A more interesting idea is that labour is being underreported. Employees and employers may feel pressure to underreport hours worked, especially at start-ups and non-unionised service companies with salaried employees.

    But there would have to be massive underreporting in order for "this round-the-clock work ethic [to be] an integral part of the high-tech economy." I just don't buy it - I know too many lazy bums like me in every part of the economy. I quit a start-up in order to regain a 40 hour work week, and I don't know many people who stick it out with high pressure shops for long these days.
  • College students report something of the same phenomenon - technology keeps them studying, socializing, messaging and researching much of the time, much more than is acknowledged by school administrations.

    Huh? I think it's the other way around. I've found after five years of school now, that I do less studying, socializing, and researching because of my computer. I can get what I need to have done faster, because I can sort through huge amounts of data in a single search, can type with a spellchecker running, and turn in assignments online. It's freed up a lot of time to do non studious things. Actually, I'm an architecture student, so it's freed up more time to mess with designs, but for us architecture students, that is non studious time.

    On a side note, I work in IT as well. When you're paid hourly, you work 40 hours a week or less (no one wants to pay IT overtime costs), but when you move into salary (as I did last summer), you suddenly end up working more. But you know, the important thing isn't how much you work, it's how happy you are with your job. I may have been working 50-60 hours a week, but it didn't feel like it, and it's a lot more fun than most other jobs. It's not like I was forced into it.
  • Let's see, since I left my last job because I was on call 24/7 for months, let's check my new job (which is MUCH less stressful), since it'd logically follow I'm working less and happier:

    Theoretical Workday: 8 AM till 5 PM, 1 hour lunch

    Real World: Starts at 7:30 AM (I have a 8 AM conference call to discuss the daily schedule with employees in other phyical locations, and I HAVE to have read email and checked calendars by then. How else would I know what's changed since I quit work the day beofre?).

    I get about 15 minutes for a lunch, since my lunch hour is usually sucked up by other employees hunting me down and saying "Hey, since you have a few minutes...". Oh, and I generally eat in front of my computer.

    Then I work straight thru till the end of the business day. Then things get interesting. I have to check emails throughout the evening to see if people in other timezones are finally replying to my emails or voice mails from earlier in the day, since I need that info for the next morning's call.

    And of course I carry a business cell phone/pager, which means my phone rings anytime up until 11 PM or so as some other employee who's working late realizes they need something from me, or someone wants to complain that their email is running slow (It's NOT the email server! It's a 4 MB Powerpoint doc, and you are on a 56k modem!!!).

    33 hours a week? I wish. Notice, I didn't even MENTION weekends! See, there's that cell phone, and powerpoint docs don't download any faster on weekends...
  • Try
    this Google search [google.com]. Read Bob Black's classic rant, "The Abolition of Work". Don't just ignore it where it breaks down... be sure to absorb the good points he does make. If this essay doesn't change your thinking, i don't know what will.

    -dave, currently working 60-hour weeks so he can retire early.
    ---
  • But then I'm a contractor, and that's what it says in my contract. Overtime has to be agreed in writing in advance. When I submit my timesheets, they have to be for 40 hours.

    That said, when I was working in a permanent position, I was working closer to 60 hours a week. I guess that as a contractor, I just have no loyalty to anyone but myself. Or maybe I've just seen the light, and don't feel the need to work for nothing any more. Perhaps it comes with age. I doubt that I'd return to working 60 hours a week even if I did go back to a permanent job.

  • by PG13 (3024)
    Be carefull. The article said:

    The average number of hours worked in the service sector is 32.9

    Most people in the service sector are knowledge workers.

    Computer programmers etc.. are knowledge workers.

    We can neither conclude that

    Most computer programmers are in the service industry

    Or that this statistic in any way is supposed to represent that of computer proffesionals

  • flash forward about 10 years or so, i am now the CTO of an internet startup, getting paid way more than i "deserve" by my old scale, and yet all i do is, sit on the phone, talk to the people that work for me, talk to the people i work for, and think... and for me, there is no difference between home and work. i understand now what my father told me so many years ago...

    And, to clarify, how does that justify your inflated paycheck? I can understand it justifying your inflamed ulcer, but why does the fact that you've sold your soul for the almighty dollar mean that you should make more than others, who actually *do the work*?

    By the way, my father's in construction (and non-union, unfortunately), and trust me, his work does *NOT* stay separate from the rest of his life. He recieves faxes and pages at 10:30pm, and has to review plans and price quotes during dinnertime. And furthermore, he has chronic back problems to deal with, along with strong classist attitudes from the people he works for.

    I'm a database programmer, and I've lucked out with my current job, but I've had a few previous jobs, and trust me, there was no separation. I was once paged at 11:30pm at night so I could fix a simple little bug. I'm sure that's happened to a lot of people on Slashdot.

    Don't feel as though you're justified in recieving an insane amount of money while people who are living paycheck to paycheck are actually *producing* something. Chances are, if all the managers and CEO's called in sick tomorrow (contrary to Ayn Rand), the world would not grind to a halt, but instead function more efficiently and freely than ever before.

    In a way, I apologize for being a bit harsh, but I'm sick and tired of people who make 419 times [aflcio.org] the average wage of their workers trying to justify that gap. I refuse to believe that there is any justification, whatsoever, not when there's hunger in the world, and more imporantly, when Tim Berners-Lee drives a beat up Volkswagen.

    It just doesn't make any sense.

    Michael Chisari
  • The problem with paying based on amount of work done is that it emphasizes quantity over quality.

    Looking at certain software products, you'd almost think this was the case already...

    I work about 50 hrs a week, but I'm only in the office for 35 -- the rest of the time I work is done at home, where I have overall a better setup to do my job (I'm a web developer by job description, but I also do a lot of web programming on the side).

    Of course, my HR department doesn't see it that way. They're based out of our parent company, which has been in the telephone business for a LONG time. They're used to "traditional" business where you wake up, come to work, work, go home, and relax before sleeping and repeating the process all over again. They DO NOT understand the concept of working when you're not at the office. Their view is "If you're not here, you're not working".

    They, of course, need to get a clue about the way jobs based on creativity work. (design, programming, etc... most "tech" jobs fall into this category).

    I CANNOT be creative from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM -- I can't simply turn it on like a switch, and turn it off when the "work day" is over. Hell, I wouldn't want to anyway. I ENJOY being creative. I ENJOY thinking. That's half the reason why I'm working this job, because there's always something new to do, and always something new to learn.

    I'd imagine that many people working "tech" jobs are in much the same predicament. "The Establishment" is built on traditional business, and doesn't understand the new tech work ethic, thus doesn't reward it.

    Paying based on amount of work done is going to encourage shoddy, rushed jobs, just to get them "out the door". Paying based on hours worked encourages slow progress (as the longer it takes, the more you get paid) - but often better quality as well.

    There isn't a simple solution to this. Companies WILL NOT simply pay out more money (IE: basing pay on REAL hours worked). That takes cash out of the executives pockets, and they'll never agree to it.

    What needs to happen (and I believe this is *starting* to happen already) is a paradigm shift in the way business views "work". Instead of only putting value on hours spent AT the office, value needs to be assessed to all work done.

    With more jobs able to be done remotely, and the availability of fairly powerful home computers (with broadband 'net connections) it's possible for more and more people to "tellecommute" and work from their homes. In many cases (including my own experiences with working from my home) people are MORE productive in the relaxed environment of their home than they are in the confines of a cubicle.

    I think this is the way of the future as far as tech jobs go...tech workers will always put in tremendous amounts of hours and time - but industry will have to acknowledge that contribution - otherwise it'll always be the way it is now. Working from home is a good start, I think - as it reduces a lot of the stress involved with the workplace.

    There are also many ethical issues with "removing the workplace" (mainly social ones) but I'm not going to go into that right now - I've ranted long enough, and it's time for me to get back to work (and time for that 2nd cup of coffee! LONG overdue there!)
  • Subject says it all. What do I theoretically get paid for? 40 or so... (I am salaried, after all, and am expected to "occassionally" put in more hours). I have to take sick days just to get things done at home. Sad...
  • by ilkahn (6642) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:33AM (#1268661) Homepage
    when i was young, and my father had already made it in the professional world as an executive, it always amazed me the amount of moneyt hat they paid him, because even though he was in the office 60 hours a week, he was still making like 90 dollars an hour... i would ask him, "dad, i have been to your office, all that you do is sit around, talk on the phone, and think about stuff... you don't lift heavy things, you don't build anything, nothing! how can you possibly be worth the insane ammount they are paying you?" and he would say: "simple, when a janitor goes home, the work stays at work. when a builder goes home, the work stays at work. for me, there is no difference between home and work." and i never really understood that...

    flash forward about 10 years or so, i am now the CTO of an internet startup, getting paid way more than i "deserve" by my old scale, and yet all i do is, sit on the phone, talk to the people that work for me, talk to the people i work for, and think... and for me, there is no difference between home and work. i understand now what my father told me so many years ago...

    when you are paid to think, there isn't an amount of hours that you "work" if you are good at your job, and if you are successful at it, at least in part, you are always at work, you are always thinking about how you can make something a little bit faster, how you can set up a strategic partnership, or whether payroll checks will bounce or not.

    so to answer the question, how many hours a week do I work, i argue, i work all of the hours i am awake, and even some of those when i am asleep, for my job, even visits me in my dreams...

  • Back in the 80's when I worked for Radio Shack,
    I was often asked to report fewer hours on my timesheet than I actually worked, so that the store's "dollar per hour" statistic would be inflated.

    When I got tired of this request, I contacted the Texas Employment Commission. They were *very* interested in my story, and told me that my employer was committing a federal crime by asking me to work hours without reporting them. It was a serious matter, because it cheats Social Security out of some money. I hadn't even thought about them being the party that was harmed.

    I don't mind giving names, dates, etc., because I'd still enjoy seeing my former managers doing hard time in the sodomy^W corrections facility for what they did to me.

    This was my main reason for quitting Radio Shack, not that it was a good job or anything. Now that I look back on the experience, I look back with great contempt, as I was definitely a victim of workplace abuse, perpertrated systematically by an organization that shamelessly operated under that policy.
  • I've worked anywhere from 100 hours to 40 hours in a work week, and I think if I were to take all of my work weeks since leaving university, it would average to around 50-55 hours average.

    Now, if I added in the time I spend THINKING and working in my head (which I contend is something like 75-90% of all good hacking) I think that figure would jump up to a steady 80 hours a week.

    You know, I don't think there's much time when I just leave the office at the office and am completely free to go do something else. Maybe I'm one of those obsessive personalities challenged by the work place, but then so are most of my co-workers. Hell we work out algorithms on fricken bar napkins sometimes.

    Granted, part of it is the love of the game-- er I mean craft. But still, a little realism is needed here.

    I have *never* worked 32.5 hours in a week-- except when the company I was working at close the office and laid everyone off before the week was done in order to avoid a full final paycheck.

    And although there's love, that doesn't mean my employer should get to bask in my loving rays for free or for the price of a pizza delivery boy. No joke. On one project, I worked 100 hours a week for 3 weeks. I figured out my theoretical hourly rate from my salary and worked out that I'd make more around the corner delivering pizza.

  • ...(not even counting weekends!) according to Nitrozac [geekculture.com]. I gotta get me that job. :-)

    --
  • I don't know what the government bean counters are smoking, but they need to start sharing.

    I'm a software engineer for a major global I/T company, one every single one of you reading this know - we even have our own catagory on /.! I've been with them for a year and a half, took a job from them out of university with a BS, had a couple previous degrees and spent the majority of my time in uni working for a lab that did contract work for them. I'm salaried, so I don't punch a time clock, but I do ocasionally keep track of my hours in a week just for the "fun" of it.

    Last week I worked 64.7 hrs.
    Yesterday I worked 13.5 hrs.
    Last spring/summer I worked every day for over two months solid a minimum of 9 hours on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends (federal holiday excluded).

    One particular week late last summer my parents were in town to celebrate my birthday (2K mile flight to get here) the plan was that I'd work a half day wednesday and have thursday off... nice plan... I went in at about 8 wednesday worked all morning as normal, then went to the lobby to let my folks in for lunch and show them around afterward then leave and show them the town... well partway through lunch the pager I was carring went off. (I do not normally carry a pager, had this one because we had developers on site for a customer go live situation, they hadn't needed me all week.) I looked at the number and said, "it'll wait till after we finish eating." three more pages durring lunch said otherwise. so we cut out the tour I said I'd check with them and be home in a half hour. Well it turns out it was a different customer who had already deployed and was down fatally... I was in the lab untill midnight with a copy of their config database trying to get them back up and running. I got two more pages that day, both from my own home phone number... when I finally came stagering in my mother said, "now I understand why you don't have a life, glad I'm not in any hurry for grandkids." (I did manage to get out of the office in under three hours the next morning so that by 11 we were on the road driving so I could show them the area, started with the city I went to uni in)

    I'm not the only one with these kinds of stories, there are a small handfull of people I work with who put in the same kinds of hours, one of them has been at a customer sight monday through friday for the last three weeks he's putting in the same kinds of hours their people are, not uncommon for them to be at work well after midnight.

    Let's take a look at last weekend, very close to *every* weekend since the new year for me:

    left work friday night about 8pm.
    got home and threw together a quick dinner, relaxed in front of the computer while eating it, in bed by 10pm.
    woke up saturday at about 6... PM!
    shuffled around the apartment for a few hours... didn't have the energy/enthusiasm to go grocery shopping, even thought the refrigerator and cupboards are empty... futz'ed around on line for a couple hours before ordering a pizza, then hacked on an oss project I'm involved with while eating pizza for a few hours...
    went to bed about 3am sunday
    slept 'till about 4pm sunday
    did laundry and watched tv for the rest of the day, then hacked that evening while eating left over pizza. before heading to bed about midnight.
    stared at the ceiling untill shortly after neighboor's alarm went off at 6am... dozed sometime thereafter untill mine at 8am, was at work by 9pm.

    some may question the amount of hacking time in there... since it's about the only time I get to actually write code I call it the most relaxing part of the weekend.

    a couple people who've seen the kind of hours I work, and the excuse for a life I live have said, "So you're working your ass off... you must be making real good money right?"

    every morning when I badge in I walk past a sign telling me what the minimum wage is... when I see that I think about my pal in uni who was torn between becoming a elementary teacher or a McManager... the McManager pays more. When I was hired in I believed the statement that they couldn't offer any more, and after holding out for a while and telling them about other, better, offers they still wouldn't budge so I accepted. 7 months latter durring the annual salary adjustment phase my manager was rather blunt when he said I wasn't being paid near what I was worth, then he gave me the bigest raise he could get past his manager's manager, also the largest raise in the area, percentage wise. This week I had a meeting with my (new) manager who said he was requesting that they "do right by me", which I guess means he's going for the same percentage.

    Now last fall I spent a lot of time talking career with a guy that I was kinda following in the footsteps of, he kept very close tabs on the market for our skills (for reasons that became obvious just recently when he left) and I had worked for him extensivly for about six months or so, so he knew very well what I could do. His expert opinion was that I was hired for about 55-60% what I should be getting for my ability. Even if my raise this year is equal to last years' I'll be at about 75% of that figure from a year and a half ago, and most people would say my "value" has risen quite a bit in those 18 months. note: I've not used real numbers here because if I actually posted my salary people would laugh; but I live in an area with a very low CPI and cost of living (about as far from silly-con valley as conceivable) and also much less competitive job market (unlike austin for example where I know a lot of people who have quit, walked accross the street and gotten hired for 20% more money, although some smaller companies have started to realise the target rich environment captive in this area and are moving in) so all things are relative and have been scaled. (math major's are encouraged to do the reverse formula and solve for my salary for extra credit)

    Then I see a new guy come in a year after me and is hired at a salary that already beats mine after my first raise. (by a few percent!) And I refuse to even go into the recent pension fiasco.

    Recently there are four or five companies that have come in and capitalized on some internal politics and strife over bad upper-middle-mis-management decisions, the defection rate amoung some of our top technical people is becoming alarming, but it has also put me in an interesting place... I'm on my managers "big truck list". What you ask is a "big truck list"? it means that if I get hit by a truck tommorow they're screwed. it also means it's in his best interest to make sure the company does in fact "do right by me".

    So here's the question I say we put forward as the next one: "Why? We've seen how bad the conditions in the industry are, why do people stay?"

    for me, it's the people and the work. I'm surounded by geeks... now there are fewer than there used to be, and I'm afraid the ones that left are the ones most like me, but I'm still a geek amoungst geeks. I have a manager that I trust has my best career interests in mind (that wasn't the case for a few months last summer/fall... but my friends credit me with driving that guy out of management... ;> ). There is also the work, I do like the portion of code I own, I wish I had more time to work on it, rather than do highlevel analysis and sketch out a design for vendors to implement. I've often joked that it's amazing how the two managers I interviewed with took a sum total of two and a half hours conversation (a fair amount of which overlapped) and managed to put me in just the right spot on a product that strectches from one extreme of computer science to the other, but they did and I thank them every time I spend more than a day or so working closely with the people at the other end... they're nice people, but I wouldn't trade their work for anything.
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @06:15AM (#1268672) Homepage
    here [washingtonpost.com] .

    Is it mere coincidence that the fortune at the bottom of the page read, "the only person who got his work done by Friday was Crusoe"?

    There are several aspects the make IT an around the clock experience: 1) training. When I went into electronics 25 yrs ago they said, "this is such a fast changing field that you're going to be in school the rest of your working days". 2) Access to mission critical servers and workstations: in many cases the only chance you get to do maintenance on servers etc. is at 4AM in the morning or early Sundays. Most of us just can't 'leave work behind' when you exit the building - we're often working on long projects and I get lots of insirations in the middle of the night or early morning, and keep a pad by the bed to jot down ideas. Yet, with all that, I resent the fact that we're often treated like factory laborers! I can't stand supervisors who want you to punch in a 7:30, be focused and creative for precisely 2 hours, take a 10 minute break, then back to the "THINK!" tank. Maybe if these managers could actually organize with effecient specilization and division of labor one could crank out code like a machine shop all tooled up for a production run, but anything that's already that mechanized is already obsolete and not worth persuing, it ain't bleeding edge!

    Bozorro the swashbuckling clown
  • by Rollo (9875) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:28AM (#1268674)
    ...and here's [slashdot.org] the link.
  • It all depends on your priorities. I am the Account Manager for the outsourced Data Center Ops for a big firm. The pay is good, and I love what I do and all. Still, I spend easy 50 hours a week doing the job because it is what it takes to get the job done.

    Sometimes people don't have the luxury of cutting back their hours or god forbid they want to keep moving up the tech ladder Jr admin becomes the Sr Admin in charge etc and get off of doing all the crap user maintenance and log viewing and into other aspects of Admin work for just one example. Some people do want to get up in the world and people are sometimes to quick to criticize.

    Anyway, if it is what makes you happy, go for it. Sometimes I feel people fuss too much when they really are doing jobs they love like the network admin that spends 60 hours a week but stays excited about it 55 of those hours and bitches the other five. Come on folks you aren't fooling anyone.

    On the other side of the coin, I have not seen presented is a lot of people do not know how to manage their time at work. In my job, I could easily camp out spend 60+ hours a week on this position. I don't and I know how to maximize the downtime. Sure, I could spend the slow days with busy work but I admit that I muck about on the net when there are no projects on the table doing as little as possible to keep things going after a big project and leave early on top of that. Why? Because I could easily spend the next four days working from 7:30 am to midnight. I do this and people see I get projects in on time and they like my style, intense when needed, casual otherwise.

    It works more tech workers should try it.
  • So ask for fewer hours during the day. Or get another job.

    Assuming you're in the same job market most of us are, you could probably quit your job and get another in 2 weeks. We need to stop whining and realize how good we really have it.
  • I don't understand why people say this. Do forty-somethings not have the skills of a twenty-something? Do forty-somethings not have savings? I can understand that having a family and kids makes things more difficult, but my father is a programmer in his 40's and he's changed jobs twice in the last 5 years (it was his choice in both cases).

    Yes, 40-somethings may not have the time to keep up with the latest technologies the way 20-somethings can, and yes, a mortgage is a pain. But on the other hand older workers have valuable business experience and a proven track record. I see no reason why older geeks should resign themselves to keeping a job they hate.

  • ``Commuting is not part of working. ... But it is your choice where you live. Obviously there are grey areas.''

    In a perfect world, perhaps. Maybe where you live all housing is affordable and your personal time is worth nothing.

    If I were working in downtown Chicago (and I did for several years), it would be nice if I lived in the city or one of the close-in suburbs. But there are so many drawbacks that you don't really have the choice that you seem to think. If you have children, most people would not want to live in Chicago (the schools are not so hot). If you want to live in a nearby suburb... well you can't afford to; housing costs in the closest 'burbs are out of sight. If you want to live in an apartment all your working life and take the tax hit, then perhaps you can move at will. If you own a home, moving in order to minimize your commute is not practical. The same killer commutes and housing costs exist in the S.F. area. I'll bet it's not unusual in any large market.

    At the salaries that most IT jobs are offering in the city, most of their workers can't afford to live nearby. The commute is a cost that you have to take into account when you consider accepting an offer from one of these companies. If 2-3 hours per day on the road or on public transportation is something you want to do, then fine. And besides the time element, there's the cost of transportation (train ticket, parking, or gas and maintenance of your auto -- not insignificant when taking the train, which is heralded as the most cost effective means of getting to downtown Chicago, runs you nearly $2000/year). Luckily, I did find a nice position that's 15 minutes from home. My commute to downtown Chicago would be around 90 minutes door-to-door (not the sort of response time I want to provide when there's a big problem at work) and, on top of the normal 9 hour work day, that's 60 hours devoted to work-related activities. And who really only is at the office for only 9 hours? When I was working in the Loop, I was spending around 14 hrs/day commuting and working and, believe me, getting home at 8:30 PM gets real old, real fast (and doing this on about 5 hours of sleep a day).

    Bottom line is that most people live where they can afford to or where their family has the fewest hits on quality of life. Living a few minutes away from work is one choice. Living where the schools are crappy and your children wind up running the gauntlet of crack houses and gangbangers is a choice. Living in a nice town with decent schools is yet another choice. They're not equal choices though.

  • I've worked for two consulting companies. In both of them you were severly looked down upon for even thinking about working a nice solid 50 hour week and then doing something else with your 118 other hours. One of them I ended up working some 80-90 hours a week, but spending some 60-70 hours in the office.

    The biggest problem is the learning curve. You have to spend loads of time just keeping up with trade rags, web-zines, industry news, security issues, and then playing with all the stuff you're supposed to keep current on. Often I don't have time to do this at work. I do a lot of this at home and elsewhere.

    In the MS world where things get released every 2 years or so, it's not incredibly bad. In the Linux world where updates come every few weeks, it can get a bit amazing that I can keep up at all.

    And to top it off, it's amazing at how many folks _don't_ do the homework and end up being totally incompetent. So now I have to go learn their stuff too because I can't stand bad code and bad design. By the end of the day, work -> life.

    Though I've noticed that this is no different from farmers or agricultural workers. Wake in the wee hours of the morning, do a lot of chores, check the fields.... Sleep 6 hours and start the cycle again.

    /will
  • by jabber (13196) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @06:38AM (#1268697) Homepage
    While I agree with Katz (Whoa!!) that technology makes it possible to work outside work, and that this is sometimes abusive, I have a different perspective.

    How much time do I spend 'working' at work? Less than 40 hours. I pursue personal interests as well and professional duties. I read /., I check out a bunch of developer sites, I flip through books, heck - sometimes I even do my grad-school homework.

    I spend most of my 'free' time doing the same sort of stuff. I write some code, read a few articles, argue with friends (who are in the same field).

    Often-times I'll wake up in the middle of the night, with my head cranking away at some problem, either work related or personal-interest related.

    It's all the same. The lines have blurred to the point where work is hobby and hobby is academics, and academics is work. The symbiosis of interests, the new paradigm or leveraged synergies (well, slap me with a halibut - I could be an MBA) is the matter of fact lifestyle of the technology worker.

    In the course of a week, I probably put in 80 to 120 hours of mind-time into things that are somehow relevant to what I do for a living. If I were to broaden the definition more, I'd also count eating and sleeping, since it enables me to work and learn. The lines really are THAT fuzzy.

    We LIKE what we do. We're not piece-workers whose productivity is measured by the number of boxes we stuff on an assembly line. The 3am revelation on a work-related data structure isn't time I charge for, and I don't clock out to write this post.

    We work hard, long-hours, beacuse we ENJOY what we do. I think I speak of more than just myself, but, if I were independently wealthy, I'd still do what I do - the way that I do it. I might be a little more cocky with the boss, but that's a matter of choice in today's job market.

    Those of us who feel they work 'too hard' have the option of throttling back, slowing down or going elsewhere, thanks to the market being as it is.

    We've come full-circle to the times before the industrial revolution, I think. We're sort of farming/home-steading IT. It's what we do. It's what we love. We work to live AND live to work, both at the same time.

    This is not to say that we do not have non-tech interests or lives, but WHAT we do is part of WHO we are. IT's not just a job, it's a choice of life-style.
  • by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @06:15AM (#1268703) Homepage Journal
    If $$$ and InternetStartupdom is your #1 priority, then the 60hrs.week is part of that. If not, resist it. I started at a startup last May, and soon was getting pulled into the 'need to finish things up over the weekend' / could you do this VPN'ed in at home tonight?' etc.

    My quality of work took a nose dive. The CEO recognized this immediately, and we talked about it. I work 40-42 hours a week.

    My strength comes from my doing other things with the other hours of my life, whether it be getting Linux talking to the VooDoo card, going out swing or salsa dancing, jamming on the jews harp, etc. etc. etc.. If I don't have time for these activities, Bad Things happen.

    I know my priorities in life. My CEO knows my priorities in life. And I still get raises. Don't be afraid to stand up for your free time and time that is disconnected from the office. If you are afraid, well, it's a good job market out there...

  • Folks, I really don't think that time at work that you spend reading slashdot really counts as work.

    Holy shit! In that case, I only work between 6pm and 9pm. But for some reason they keep insisting I show up at before noon...

  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:31AM (#1268705) Homepage
    33 Hours a week? That's definitely a joke if you work with computers (or any kind of technology). Not even counting the beeper time that a lot of folks don't deal with, that's an unrealistically low figure.

    I officially work 37.5 hours a week -- that's what I get paid for. In reality it's more like 50 or 60, what with never eating lunch and leavin an hour or two late every day ("just one more thing!").

    I find it bizarre that the government would base statistics on what employers report their professional employees working -- this is a class that doesn't get overtime and thus is generally easy to add "just a little more" work to.

    Not that I'm complaining, I enjoy my job and it pays better than most of my friends in college have (except those who are just now graduating law school! (g)). But we shouldn't officially pretend that everyone in America is getting home at 4 in the afternoon...
  • An old boss of mine used to say that if we HAD to work more than five hours overtime a week in order to get our work done, then HE was doing something wrong in his project planning. It's a philosophy that I wholeheartedly agree with.

    There is always going to be a requirement in our industry (technology/software development) for workers to put in limited bursts of super-long hours in order to get past approaching deadlines or unexpected hurdles. However, the work return on hours diminishes rapidly if these periods of extended overtime last longer than a few weeks. In fact, I've personally witnessed long hours causing negative work. The levels of fatigue and stress cause a much higher incidence of careless mistakes and design mistakes, not to mention the decrease in motivation suffered by the workers. This ends up costing the project more than if the manager had just made sure that his or her workers were properly rested. Some project managers 'get' this, others don't. I've been fortunate to work for more project managers in the former group rather than the latter. I would be interested to hear others opinions.

    Of course, as far as I have seen the 32 hour average working week is a complete fallacy. In every software engineering job I've held so far, the minimum required working week has been 40 hours. More often than not, I work 45 to 50 hour weeks, and I know that I'm neither the first into the office each day nor the last to leave.



    --
  • ...which is why he said "probably".
  • Yeah, I usually put in right at 40 hrs/wk, but I have only been working for 4 months (just out of grad school) and am programming business applications. Not exactly the high-stress portion of the "knowledge-worker" demographic.

    In a way, I guess I am working on a remotely similar level, if by remotely you mean same order of magnitude!

    Eric
  • At this time (>400 comments posted and counting), it's very likely that no one will read this... but I shall chime in nonetheless. Here are the numbers:


    "Official" work (hours/week, avg):
    Classes (school)......33
    Classes (IMPA)........12
    Lab/programming.......10
    Study.................15
    ------------------------
    TOTAL.................70

    Pay (R$/week; R$ 1 =~ US$ 1.7):
    Scholarship.........80.00
    Odd jobs, avg.......50.00
    ------------------------
    TOTAL..............130.00

    Grand total: R$ 1.85/hour


    If it seems crappy, it is - even for Brazil. But at least I've got free housing, food and bus fare. Ah well.
  • As a grad student in the sciences at the U of Minnesota, we are officially half-time employees, paid for 20 hours of work. The official policy is that time in excess of those 20 hours is unpaid independent research. What happens, though, is grad students are routinely exploited: my job now involves computer and equipment maintenance, lifting and moving, and random toadying. There's some research, too.

    I'm not bitching about it. I knew what I was getting into. Anyone have tales of advisor abuse out there?
  • I been doing UNIX software development for almost 17 years, both as a contractor and as an employee, and I've rarely had to do over 40 hours a week. Yes there are exceptions when during critical project phases, but you (and your employer) are asking for burned out, defect-generating zombies if the staff is continously working 60 hour weeks.

    Most suits don't get this since all they see is a never ending stream of schedules and deadlines for technology projects they don't understand. Just don't fall for it yourself. Remember you're in this profession because you like it and presumably in it for the long haul. Burning yourself out for a suit that doesn't understand or appreciate the difficulties of challenging technical work is simply self-destructive.

    If you're thinking "This lazy old slacker can't compete and obviously doesn't understand new technology or the 'speed of the internet'." you'd be dead wrong. Our startup company *can* compete and our projects are extremely challenging and fun. Don't buy into the falacy that working harder, smarter, and faster is a matter of putting in extra hours.

    Working better is a matter of thinking clearly and no one can do that under constant pressure and physical fatigue caused by too many hours. Take a walk during work hours. Do some excercise when normally you'd be coding. Take your kids to an afternoon ball game. Reflect on why it is you're here in the first place -- to slave away in a zombie existence or to live a full life every day.

    mkg
  • Well, since I'm working two jobs in the tech field, I just thought I'd give a breakdown.

    Most of my weekdays involve me getting up at 6am and driving to work. I arrive at 7:30 and catch up on my email and Slashdot and the other 3 sites I visit regularly. This lasts until I find something useful to do, or until I go home. This is what you refer to as a "deadend" job. Nothing to do, can't do anything interesting in other departments (such as marketing) as you are "tied" to your structure. Feh I say.

    The other part of my time I spend at my first job working for the new job in a media startup. Setting up server configs on paper, doing market-type research, sketching web designs and the like are common tasks. I don't feel bad about doing this, since the other job doesn't pay me yet, and I want to do something to avoid passing out from ennui.

    I then drive 1.5 miles to my other, newer job. This one I hope will pan out. I spend about anywhere from 5-7 hours there and go home. Lately I've been there for at most 3-1/2 since I'm burning out fast.

    In total, I usually spend from 7am to 9:30pm away from home. Sometimes I get home by 8:00 if I'm really tired. I can't be die-hard for a job I don't get paid for, but I kinda like it anyways.

    My primary job rarely gets into my personal time, and my other job is almost a focused obsession. If I get paid regularly for the second job, I would quit the Old job in an instant. However, I have an apartment, a car, and other sundry payments to make. I miss going to my martial arts classes most of all. I feel week for it. However, they are early evening classes, and the distance from Cranberry Twp. to Pittsburgh is about 30 miles, making things all the more complicated.

    Add it up, and I am either commuting or at work for approx 14 hours a day for a total of 70 hours per week. Aah, the things we do for quality of life.

  • How I meant it [dictionary.com]

    That's precisely what I want out of life. My statment that I work 70 hours to improve the quality of life was merely an intentionally ironic statment. It's mostly a part of my cynical view. I work one job to pay for my life, and the other to improve my future. But I in no way believe that one begets the other 100%. I wish my job made my life more fun. Perhaps one day it may sate my hunger for something important and fun to do with my life.

    Unfortunately, work==boredom

  • I have been telling people for a long time that, if you count the time I am solving problems, genreating income, or improving my skillset, then I work 168 hours every week (for the math impaired, that's 24x7). I do my very best analytical work while I'm asleep, and even while I'm watching Titus, the ol' brain is chugging away at the current problem set. If you count as work only those things I would not do if they didn't pay me to do them, I work considerably less than 10 hours per week.

    Except for the rare times when I have to listen in horror as management insists that the development team deliver garbage (oy, you wouldn't want to have heard the meeting last evening), I marvel that I get paid for having so much fun.

    Folks, if you feel that you are being overworked and/or underpaid, now is the time to do something about it. Economic times will never be better, and right now you have the ability to pick your working conditions during a job interview (though don't be surprised to find out they lied during that interview- folks are desperate for talent right now). At some time in the future, this will no longer be true. So work for a better future right now. And believe me, you don't get that better future by busting your hump and hoping that management will be grateful.


    Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation
  • ObLegalese: Go ahead and sue me. I'm sure I'd make a great charity case. These are my opinions. If you want to quote me, PLEASE email me [mailto] before doing so!

    Nobody has it like us SysAdmins. 30 hour weeks, telecommuting, and one of thie highest pay rates in the industry.

    BULLSHIT!

    My job title is "Unix Technician" - my job duties are those of an overworked SysAdmin. Over 100 unix systems I'm reponsible for. I'm paid about three or four grand more than a McDonald's manager - that's by annual salary, mind you - and they have a better benefits package. (Pick one coverage: Dental, General.)

    I'm probably in the office about 50 hours a week - legally, after 44 hours, they have to pay me overtime, even though I'm salaried. They have refused to pay the due overtime. Most state laws dictate that after 44 hours, salaried or not, you are due overtime, unless you are scheduled for more hours. I'm scheduled for 38 hours.

    I'm also on call. I haven't slept at all the past two weekends because I worked through them, at home. Yes, I worked through them. Both days. Paged at 9p, 11p, 12a, 1a, 3a, 4a, 6a, 9a, 11a, 2p, 5p, 7p, 10p on Friday and Saturday. Paged at 12a, 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a, 7a, 9a, 1p, 3p, 5p, 6p, 7p, 8p, 9p, 11p on Sunday. At 11:30p, I simply ripped the battery out of my pager, so I could sleep. Then I was summarily yelled at for trying to put my own health before The Company. Now, excuse me, but this is a Fortune 1000 company. And they refuse to hire more underpaid "Unix Techs." So I am supposed to risk my health, my life, and my sanity for them so they can save a few bucks.

    This isn't the FIRST time I've been though this - my last job was for an incompetent startup. There, I had all the sysadmin responsibilties, as well as Network Engineering and Adminstrator responsibilities for well over 150 routers, access servers, and switches in the field. And they paged me just as much.

    I don't know about any of you, but I am seriously considering changing fields - I have NEVER worked for a company that does not abuse, destroy, demoralize, and then threaten to FIRE their SysAdmins because they'd like to put their health before some idiot who can't remember to type his password.

    I am ALL too often paged UNNECESSARILY - I'm paged when a SINGLE customer in a 15,000 customer system, can't get his email because tech support can't fucking troubleshoot. I'm paged when tech support can't figure out their OWN password. I'm paged when someone at the NOC thinks that one of the servers is a little slow because it's a workstation trying to handle 20,000+ customers with an average email box size of 5MB!

    I don't know about any of you, but this is total bullshit. You know what my employer's response to me starting or joining a union was? "We'll fire you on the spot." Now, I'm pretty sure that's flat out illegal, but I have NO intentions whatsoever of staying with an employer with an attitude like that.

    IMO, the time has come to show these managers and supervisors who think they know their shit because they can 'cd ~' or 'rm -rf ~luser/public_html' that we are NOT their personal playthings. And the employers while we're at it. The conditions many of us are forced to work under are flat out INTOLERABLE and INHUMAN. I believe we must form a more coherent and cohesive union - even moreso than SAGE - or things won't get any better. (Interested in helping? email me.)

    Somebody needs to remove the government's head from it's ass so that they can see that the employers could care less how much employees are doing from home or on the road - and thusly refusing compensation - and how many hours they're really working. Hell, most SALARIED employees aren't required to keep timesheets or anything. We're the only ones who can stop this, and until we start working to do so, it's only going to get worse.

    See ObLegalese at top.. my opinions. Email for permission to quote. Not words of employer or union or anybody but me. Don't like it, deal with it.

    =RISCy Business
  • It is heartening to hear of the reasonableness of your schedule in the "skilled computer types" (SCT) business. Unfortunately, as a postdoctoral physicist in the USA I feel I have no such luxury. The perception among most of the physics postdocs I know is that anything short of 12 hour days (we're paid for 8) and working at least one day each weekend is slacking. Aside from our having more formal traning than the SCTs, the only significant differences I can see between our two fields, at least in this country, is the relative scarcity of career positions among physicists and the culture of "work until you drop."

    In your estimation, is the level of demand for CSTs the primary factor that contributes to their empowerment in the work force in setting reasonable work hours, or is the difference cultural as well? At the risk of generalizing excessively, most Europeans I know seem to lead more balanced lives than we do here in the colonies, and I'd speculate that cultural factors may weigh more heavily than the level of demand in your particular case. I'm curious to hear what your thoughts are on this matter, and what you'd consider to be the most significant factor in your enviable freedom.
  • How many hours do you really work?

    Would that be before or after you deduct time wasted on slasdot?
  • by / (33804) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @06:30AM (#1268758)
    I've found my ability to tolerate Jon Katz has remarkably improved since I started imagining his stories (or at least the summary) read in the voice of Mike Myers playing Linda Richman on SNL:
    So how many hours do you really work, anyway? Discuss.
  • by jedinite (33877) <slashdot DOT com AT jedinite DOT com> on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @04:18PM (#1268759) Homepage
    >That's definitely a joke if you work with
    > computers (or any kind of technology).

    Amen, brother. My official policy through my employer is that we work a total of 80-hours over a two-week pay period. Upon the discression of the employee, you are allowed to complete those 80-hours in practically any manner you see fit (flex-time, work 9 hours a day then take the second Friday off, etc).

    But that's just official policy. In practice, take the current work week for example:

    Monday: 7:00am - 8:30pm, 30-minute lunch: 13 Hours.
    Tuesday: 7:30am - 5:30pm, 30-minute lunch: 9 1/2 Hours.
    Wednesday: 7:00am - 7:15pm (heading home right after I post this comment), 1-hour lunch: 11 1/4 Hours.

    That's almost 35 hours in a three day period... I beat the gov't expectation by Wednesday. ;) And unfortuantely these type weeks are more the norm than the exception.

    And don't get me started about the 24-7 on-call period, the weekend wakeup calls at 3am to tell me something is broken, etc etc...



    ---------
    Question: How do I leverage the power of the internet?
  • by jedinite (33877) <slashdot DOT com AT jedinite DOT com> on Friday February 18, 2000 @09:23AM (#1268760) Homepage
    Given that it's Friday, here's an update on my previous times for this week:

    Monday: 7:00am - 8:30pm, 30-minute lunch: 13 Hours.
    Tuesday: 7:30am - 5:30pm, 30-minute lunch: 9 1/2 Hours.
    Wednesday: 7:00am - 7:15pm, 1-hour lunch: 11 1/4 Hours.
    Wednesday Night: 11:00 - 3:00 from home: 4 Hours.
    Thursday: 7:30am - 6:30pm, no lunch: 11 hours. Friday: 7:00am - 5:30pm (est), 1 hour lunch: 8 1/2 hours.

    Grand total? FIFTY-SEVEN hours and fifteen minutes of work, in a single week. And that's not counting the at-home work I'll be putting in on some presentations this weekend.

    Final point, even though this has been much discussed and pretty much agreed upon:
    37 HOURS IS IN NO WAY AVERAGE, FOR THE IT INDUSTRY!!! Why? Because for those of you who say "yes I work 37 hours a week", there are lots like me who say "50-60 hours per week". And there aren't enough (if any) saying 15-25 to make the average come out to the mid/upper 30's.

    ---------
    Question: How do I leverage the power of the internet?
  • Interesting to note some of the probable correlations between some of the aspects of our lives. First of all, the 35 hours number is a complete joke. I'm working for a consulting company (who is working for a dotcom startup) - and consistently putting in more than 60 hours, usually around 75, and sometimes up to 90. The real kicker is that I commute and don't even live in the city I work in (I live in a corporate apartment in NYC, reside in DC).

    The interesting part of this is that I'm young, I grew up on the internet (and don't mind, even like, plugging away at the puter all day), and DotComFever is paying a stupid amount of money for what I do (I don't see it as that difficult..). I don't work with a lot of older people, and the people I _do_ work with share the same living habits as me (arrive at 8, go home at 12 or 1).

    Has anyone not seen this correlation? I think this whole huff is going to change drastically as we, the 'internet generation' become older and stop wanting to work all these hours. Have some kids and get out and play golf or something. The main reason I don't see a high percentage of older people in the internet workforce is largely due to the advent of the internet and how drastically it changed our lives - To us kids, it was a toy turned into a job. For the older non-internet people, it was a toy, turned into a nightmare (how the hell am I going to get along without a website, how the hell am I going to pay for one! And I have to hire these KIDS to do it too?).

  • by Foogle (35117)
    Why the "If you're reading this" -- not everyone who reads Slashdot is part of the tech industry.

    Having said that, I am. I'm also a full-time student. I'm at school 16 hours a week, and working 24 hours a week. But I do draw a fine line between my workday and the rest of my day and I rarely do anything work-related when I'm not on the clock.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Give me a break. (And yes, I know you're joking but I speaking to the PHBs looking for some reason to restrict employee web access.) I have no problem keeping up with Slashdot et al during compilations, (batch) program runs, and similar dead times. I also have no problem discussing it - and getting one or two "aha!" insights per week - with my coworkers during the dead time waiting for meetings to start, for elevators to arrive, etc.

    There is a *lot* of dead time in our life, but we generally don't notice it because it comes in 30- and 60-second bites. Personally, I think it's better to click over to the web browser and check a headline or two then click back to the compiler than sit there drooling into your keyboard. Besides, slashdot is at least job related - unlike Joe who always has Sports Illustrated on his desktop, or Susan who is always daytrading.
  • There was a study done in England during WWII on workweek and productivity. During and after the blitz, England had dire need to absolutely maximize output. And they were highly motivated.

    As the war progressed, the workweek for the war factories was slowly increased. 45 hours, 50h, 55h, 60h, 65h. The first few steps up increased total output in the factories. The workers were 100% commited, and people gladly worked the longer hours. England was fighting for her life. But the step up from about 55 to 60 (I am not sure of the exact numbers), actually produced a drop in production. The total number of manhours at the plants increased, but the workforce was so overtaxed that they were not able to keep productivity up.

    I've noticed similar trends at my own workplace. Over one particularly bad 3 month period I worked 70 hours every week. By the end I was significantly fried. I hated work (and I've stuck with this job for less pay than I might get elsewhere because of how much I like it), and even after going back to a 40 hour week I still was taking twice as long to get things done for a month and a half after that. Of course, I am exempt from overtime, so I haven't really seen any return on that investment. We'll see when bonus/stockoption time rolls around whether I get compensated.

    Of course, I am posting this from work, but the old perfmeter on the wall says my CPU is still maxed out, so I am not really wasting THAT much time...

    Watching progress bars is work, isn`t it?
  • I was refering to hours plumbers work, not the price they charge.
  • by w3woody (44457) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:08AM (#1268779) Homepage
    I didn't bother quoting that because I know it's bullshit.

    http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/ empsit.t11.htm [bls.gov]

    The above link points to the recent employment statistics in the United States for the entire economy. Unless he defines "knowledge workers" as including people like legal secretaries, the entire motion picture industry, and people who work behind the front desk at various hotels across the country, and if he narrows the "service sector" down to "services/miscellaneous" (or 'services2' in the table), we don't even come close to that 50% mark.

    The fact of the matter is that people who do software development or work for IT departments, or other "knowledge workers" who work in the computer industry comprises of slightly more than 10% of the entire service-producing economy. (That's the total of all engineering-related services and all business related services, verses the entire service-producing economy, which employs around 104 million people. And that significantly overestimates "knowledge workers", as the statistics I added up in the above categories also include secretarial support and the like--as the statistics are compiled by looking at employment at various companies verses it's NAICS category.)

    The long and the short of it is that Katz's second-hand hearing about 50% of the people in the service sector are "knowledge workers" is a crock, and not supported by the statistics from the US Department of Labor Statistics.
  • by w3woody (44457) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @07:49AM (#1268780) Homepage
    The government maintains that the average work week in the service sector is 32.9 hours; no different than a decade ago, and five hours shorter than in l964.

    I've got a newsflash for Mr. Katz. The "service sector" is not just computer-related jobs. In fact, computer-related jobs, such as IT jobs, are an insignificant percentage of those jobs.

    Other jobs which bring the average down include part-time hamburger-flippers at McDonalds (which are considered service sector jobs), the plumber who comes over and fixes your drain (another service sector job), and the woman you hire to sit your pets when you go on vacation.

    Basically, the "service sector" is jobs which involve providing a non-tangable "service", as opposed to manufacturing (where you make concrete things like cars), or retail (where you sell things like clothing to people).

    Because the "service sector" includes part-time fast-food hamburger flippers and self-employed pet sitters and the like, I would be highly supprised if the average for the entire service sector of our economy was much above 40 hours a week. The number 32.9 sounds just about right.

    The 60+ hours I worked last week, not including the time I spent last week working on free software stuff (another 10 or so), multipled by everyone on /. who work similar hours, won't make a dent in that aggrigate number, just as the self-employed people in the 1960's who worked their ass off in marketing consulting or similar highly-paid, high hour count jobs in the 1960's didn't make a dent back then. In fact, the decline in this number from the 1960's can be attributed to the rise of fast-food restaurants and their use of part-time workers.

    What makes this misunderstanding spectacularly sad is that it formed the keystone of Mr. Katz' article. Without the fact that the number '32.9' is the average number of hours worked across the entire service sector, including part-time fast-food hamburger flippers and the like, Mr. Katz appears not to have an article at all.
  • How many people do you know that were literally thinking of leaving the computer industry alltogether?
    Not leaving altogether, but I figure that if the job market stays good, my stocks don't bottom out, and I exercise some finanical discipline, I should be able to pay off my house in four or five years; after that I hope to do computer stuff part-time and leave more time for writing and music, maybe open up my own dojo. I love hacking and don't think I'll ever stop, but hacking for other people, under their rules and schedules, I could do without.

    I'm probably already pulling down the average on work hours; when I was a full-time direct employee I tried to avoid overtime as much as possible, and now that I'm a contractor I usually work 35-40 hours a week, almost never more.

    I also want to strongly agree about point made elsewhere in the thread about what really constitutes work hours. When I was suddenly thrust into the role of technical lead on a firewall project about three years back, for about a two month period I was thinking about network security at most every waking moment; but I never had more than 60 hours on the time sheet.

  • by xtal (49134) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:38AM (#1268783)

    This is something that I've thought about for awhile now.. most of the places I've worked have been chronically understaffed in the technical department (this does not seem to carry over to marketting, however). It's my personal belief that shoddy software coming from a lot of places is a direct result of this - but that's another issue.

    How many people have stopped to think about what they make per hour? Especially if you don't get overtime? If you're working 15-20 more hours a week, then there's obviously either a problem with you, or the tasks you're being asked to do.

    Some employers get it - IBM is one of them - that long hours != high productivity. I personally think I'd be a more effective programmer if I was only in the office for 4 hours a day - most of my planning for programs I do in my head while I'm doing other things, then, when I go to write code, I sit down and go hardcore. The only exception is debugging a serious problem - that could take a few weeks in a large system.

    Take a look at what you're taking home and see if the lack of a life is worth it. I like playing with my own stuff, and what's the good of having money for cool toys if you have no time to play with them! :)

    Don't let bosses take away your life just because they think they can take advantage - and if you're working 20 hours overtime a week, you're getting screwed. If you need money, ask for more money & less time. Lots of places are cluing in.

    Kudos!

  • Surely the program staff meetings, where every minute is an eternity, and I am begging for the caress of sweet death to end this bleak, agonizing hell, ought to count for more than the "actual" time that has passed? Please?
  • I have got to believe the average's closer to 60,if not higher, from my own experiences, and those of the overwhelming majority people I know.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:31AM (#1268791) Homepage
    In the Uk more and more people in the IT sector are becoming contractors (working for a one person company, CEO = themselves), there is a minor tax glitch comming up (called IIR35) but even so the tax situation is pretty good. You get paid on average around 50% more, and most of the time you get overtime. With 000s of unfilled jobs its about time people in IT started dictating their conditions, remember you can get a job with your companies competitor, they'll have a harder time getting a replacement than you had getting that new job.
  • I've been known to put in 50-60+ hour weeks when necessary, but I do wonder just how many of those hours were spent "working" by reading personal e-mail, browing websites, reading (eek) Slashdot, and so on...

    Still, I'd have to say that my typical work week must contain at least 40 "real" working hours. Even when I'm learning PHP and mySQL on my FreeBSD server, it's still enhancing my knowledge for stuff I do at work, too. And heck, reading Slashdot has been beneficial for work, too -- I just need to figure out why...

    I hope none of my employers read this...

  • by gomi (57888) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @10:23AM (#1268796) Homepage

    I probably put in about 28-32 hours a week.
    My work ethic: If it ain't done by 5, darlin', it's getting done next business day. The deal is money for time -- if I'm not getting paid for the hours worked, they're not gonna get worked. I can get a job and money pretty much anywhere in this economy and with my skills, but there aren't enough $100 bills in the world to buy my afternoons or weekends back -- they're gone forever.

    From my personal observations, there's no damn need to work more than 40 hours a day -- most deadlines are utterly arbitrary. How much of those extra hours are productive, anyway? Slap-happy on caffeine, punchy from fatigue toxins, I bet the quality of work done in the 70th or 80th hour of the week sucks a lot harder than work done around hour 10 or 20. Thinking more hours directly translates to more production is delusional at best, especially for knowledge workers where mental acuity is key to useful production.

    Why spend 20 hours coding over the weekend if you're so tired and pissed off you'll introduce bugs that it'll take you 40 hours to clean up next week? Don't give your life over to the company, and especially not for freakin' free.

    Leave at 5. Read a book. Go minigolfing with a friend or sweetheart. I promise the code will still be there tomorrow.

    gomi
  • This oddly coincides with the fact that I have to come in to work at 2am friday/saturday in order to work on a critical production system that can't be shut down at any other time. I'm salaried, so I don't get paid for the 6 hours I'll be here working on the thing. But at least this isn't the weekend I was going to JohnCon...
    Have fun everybody! I'm going straight from Work, to a magic the gathering tournament, and back to work! >:)

    Kintanon
  • By the way, my father's in construction (and non-union, unfortunately), and trust me, his work does *NOT* stay separate from the rest of his life. He recieves faxes and pages at 10:30pm, and has to review plans and price quotes during dinnertime. And furthermore, he has chronic back problems to deal with, along with strong classist attitudes from the people he works for.



    My father is also in construction, also deals with chronic back pain, and also has a lot of work to do at home. He started out at 15 or 16 on construction jobs and moved up, by the time he was 25 or so he had his own building crew and was building houses from the ground up including plumbing and electric, now he is a building supervisor for a VERY large construction company.
    I'm 19 years old, I moved to Baltimore for an entry level tech job. I make as much money as he does and I'm about to get a raise. Even if you adjust for the 20% increase in the cost of living between Georgia and Maryland that's just rediculous. He works harder and more hours than I do, does a more mentally and physically taxing job, and is horribly under paid and under appreciated. Some things are just weird...
    But BECAUSE of that, I chose not to go into construction, I spent many summers pouring concrete and framing houses with him and learned to hate physical labor with a passion. So here I am in the tech support field about to turn 20 and about to be making more cash than my father....

    Kintanon
  • Other jobs which bring the average down include part-time hamburger-flippers at McDonalds (which are considered service sector jobs), the plumber who comes over and fixes your drain (another service sector job), and the woman you hire to sit your pets when you go on vacation.



    Where the HELL do you get your plumbers? I need to call that place! Every plummer I'VE ever seen makes like 3 or 4 times what I do. Most plumbers make UNGODLY hourly cash.

    Kintanon
  • College students report something of the same phenomenon - technology keeps them studying, socializing, messaging and researching much of the time, much more than is acknowledged by school administrations. What's the point here? Let's revisit the following truths:
    • College students should make a serious time commitment to studying.
    • College students typically spend more time in socialization/recreation than they probably should, in light of the last point. This is, was, and always will be true.
    • Technology doesn't tell people how to spend their days. People tell people how to spend their days. In other words, those college students aren't forced to stay up until 5am playing net games. It's just more fun than going to bed.
  • Unfortuntately, I have to disagree with you based on my experience. How can you leave at 5:30 when your boss approaches you at 5:00 and informs you that a client needs something done that night, or a bug surfaces in a production installation that is a security problem, or is causing your web site to give away free merchandise. These things can happen at 10:00 at night, or Sunday morning as well. For IT workers on Web/Internet projects, work can be truely 24/7. Sure I could ignore the problem and risk getting fired, but more importantly I would be giving up my own integrity and letting down my coworkers. Anyone with any sense of responsibility will work past 5:30 when the need arises.
  • Folks, I really don't think that time at work that you spend reading slashdot really counts as work.

    Lets see. That cuts my work day down to 2-3 hours, I work maybe 12 hours a week?

  • Bollocks. Pure bollocks.

    There is no job worth that level of pressure, and any employer or coworker who'd dare to lay that sort of guilt trip upon a man should be arrested on charges of Racketeering. (Either you put in the overtime, or we put you in the poorhouse. To hell with you, your life, your family, or anything else outside the company.)

    Working men fought and _died_ for the 40 hour work week. They fought and _died_ for every benefit we enjoy in the workplace today, either by custom or by law. To dare defame their memory, to squander their sacrifice, to insult their legacy by bowing to the demands of some overeducated, overpaid paper-pusher is not simple blasphemy against all of the values of the working class. It is treason against the human race.

    Furthermore, to dare place any job above yourself, your wife, your children, and all that is good in life is to deny that _you_ are a free individual who's time and expertise is finite and valuable. That truth is the foundation of liberty, and the bedrock of capitalism vis-a-vis the exchange of services.

    Tell the boss to go to hell. When the whistle blows (as it were), the wise and righteous man drops whatever he's doing, punches out, and goes home. Overtime is for slave laborers.
  • by samic (72691)

    A lot of us are on call 24/7. By definition, this indicates that we have to be 'available' at all times. Similar to the role of a Firefighter, we are constantly available in the event of an emergency...we can take that to it's logical extreme. In addition to the 'on call' status, we also are required to spend the daylight hours (9-5) in an office. Now, tack on the after hours maintenace, upgrades, troubleshooting, back-ups and transfers that we are constantly called on to tackle.

    Employers emphatically agree? LOL. Ask any employer in the free world...According to them? NONE of their employees do anything.

    If anything, I manage to get about 32.5 hours of sleep per week anymore...I'd be curious to see how our fine staticians would react to the living arrangements of a struggling net geek.
  • Yawn, union socialist view of work is so out of fashion. It values "sweat" labor, seniority, and geriatrics, over merit and organizational skill.
    (Hint: most executives nowadays are compensated by bonuses and options now, not skyrocketing salaries. Shareholders prefer to link salary to performance)

    People totally underestimate the difficulty of organizing humans, and discount communications skills which make all the difference in the world.

    Whether you are managing an open-source project, playing starsiege tribes, team fortress or everquest, leading a military invasion, or running a corporation, being able to persuade, organize, and lead people in a direction to accomplish a unified goal is a difficult skill that few people have (I don't have it). Geeks downplay social skills, but in a world of 6 billion humans, the most important skill you can have is dealing with people.

    Let's say you run a company. One of your programmers shows an uncanny ability to get other people to meet deadlines whereas before, they weren't. This person also is able to travel around the country, and has good enough social skills to meet with other companies, forge partnerships, and in general, get lots of people in the public to like him/her (think Linus)

    Would I promote this person and pay them 10 times the salary of their peers? I sure would. They're more than likely repay it by getting references for customers, increasing the company's profile through partnerships and positive speech, in addition to getting project managers or programmers in the mood to finish on deadline.

    And the rest of the employees in the company would benefit to. Technology is only 10% of the business.

    Chances are, if you have a cool business idea, about 100 people have the same idea. The difference is, do you have people who are laser focused on getting things done and growing the business. If you don't, your company stalls and never becomes anything.

    If you do, than 24 months later, you have a stellar IPO, and 1000% growth.

    Managers really get the short end of the stick in popular media. Employees like to imagine them as high-paid lazy do nothings, but if you have ever managed anything, you know that not only is it 100% stress, non-stop meetings, constant worry, travel, etc but whenever anything goes wrong, you take the heat, in addition to being told you are a fat cat. Don't even factor in having to babysit and deal with office politics.

    Work is not just "producing widgets", but I can see how, if that is a person's viewpoint, they can devalue management.

  • This is a very good point, obviously from all the posts on here, we are not all "working" while we are at work, so even if we bring work home it might even it out a bit. I do high level tech support for a major Computer company, and I'd say I've got it made, I "work" probably 30 or less hours per week (counting time on calls and time spend on after call work) a lot of that is due to working on Sat and taking maybe 5 calls. But I spend my time doing computer based training or other types of training, so that I can get a good sys admin job. Now I think maybe I should just stay here.
  • by Pfhreakaz0id (82141) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:49AM (#1268841)
    Man, I've went off on this more times then I can count. Many right here on Slashdot.

    People look at me like I'm crazy when I say I only want to work 40 hours per week. When I interviewed for my latest job, I said this in interviews, word for word: "If you're looking for somebody to work 45 or 50 hours per week, don't hire me. I have to get home to my real job, being a husband and a father." Result? I'm sure I lost out on some positions. Instead took a job with a consulting firm that now (3 months later) does what? Pressures we to bill more than 40 hours a week!

    As for after hours work? I've done it a few times to get something done, but I bill it and try to take comp time. Mostly, I'll surf or play games or study for a certification test if I get on the computer.

    We work more hours per year here in the USA than in almost all industrialized nations. And then we wonder why our divorce rate is so high. Why our teen suicide rate is so high. We don't spend time with our families, that's why! When we do get home, we watch something like 30 hours of tv a week, plus we have to work out, 'cause God forbid we're not skinny and perfect!

    A freind of mine recently said to me "You're just gonna have to realize that professionals work a lot of hours. That's what we do." This is from a guy having serious marital problems!

    I tell ya, my employer clears over $1500 a week beyond my salary easy with me billing 38 hours. They're not hurting. They need to get over it.
    ---
  • Actually, I'm paid by the hour and don't mind it too much. It's the answering calls that's the pits. Especially because our front line techs aren't exactly trained well. It helps that while they're telling me what problems they're encountering that I can tune out and tune in to Slashdot until their little monologue has run out of steam. Usually they're just asking how to find the power button anyway.
  • I work my contracted hours and no more!

    I arrive at work 9am, leave at 5.30, which, with an hour for lunch works out at 37 1/2 hours a week - quite standard for the UK.

    For some people (like myself) enjoying life is more important than progressing fast in the workplace. Big deal if my colleagues are putting in more hours than me - I have a wife who I'd quite fancy seeing for a couple of hours before the end of the day.

    People don't have to work such long hours - they choose to, and if they don't claim for overtime, then that again is their choice.

    --
  • Finding a balance is key.

    I am a web developer, and am in the office about 45 hours per week. When it gets to be around 7, I leave. And I don't come in on the weekends.

    I play indoor soccer once a week.
    I play in a drum circle once a week.
    I play my guitar almost every day.
    I read books not published by O'Reilly almost every day.
    I spend time with my fiancee.
    I go away to the mountains many weekends.

    If you don't *make* this time, you won't have this time. A friend of mine works 70+ hours, including weekends, every week. He has no time for any of these things. And he is miserable. He gets paid more than I do, (but less per hour if we're being realistic) but has no time to enjoy it.

    Employers will take every ounce of energy from you that you allow them. Decide what matters to you, draw a line, and don't cross it. I can't imagine looking back on my life 50 or 60 years from now and thinking "If only I'd put in a few more hours on that project."

    Spend your youth and health wisely.

    - A Happy Developer

  • Generally my week is around 60 hours. At peak it hit upwards near 100, and the worst it ever got (two week period and 6 all nighters) was just over 120 hours/week. So now my great job pays around $7.50 an hour. whoopie. Is it good? No. Does it pay well? Occasionally, but not often. Does it make a difference in the end? Ultimately no, I don't think so. In respect to my health, definitely not. And my family life... no help there either. Do I enjoy it? The content and results sure... the time involved, no way. Do I plan on changing it? If I can guarantee the same income elsewhere with less responsibility... (that'll happen, not) And yet I press on. It doesn't help that I actually am interested by most of what I'm required to learn about and report on... nor that I'm driven to prove myself and provide for my family... and provide well. Bottom line is, my wife misses me, my daughter misses me, my ass is getting larger daily, and the longer I go, the more I feel stuck there.
  • I also am officially down for 37.5 hours a week, but for the money I'm getting I'm not working a single minute more than that. The job is not rewarding enough for me to put the extra effort into it, and I'll be leaving soon for sunnier pastures - I could hardly be paid less :)

  • At work. Then there's the other 15 or so hours I work on other general Linux stuff: writing HOWTOs, working on my next book, stuff like that.

    My boss once told me "You can be either successful or happy". I choose happy.
  • Hrm..In the context I said it, it probably sounds misleading. Suffice to say he's divorced and doesn't see his kids all that often.

    We both know that if I wanted to, I could make much more money at another company, but working 60 hour weeks. He doesn't press me for more than 40, and I don't ask for more money. So far, it's resulted in one of the best jobs I've had.
  • And if my boss catches me goofing off with slashdot, I'll be working zero hours per week. :)

    Disclaimer for prospective employers: I'm actually on my lunch break. Hire me.

    -Legion

  • by guran (98325)
    I changed job a year ago. My last job was computer programming for a (unnamed) company. Currently I work for a small (ten people) IT-consulting firm.

    At my last job I worked 37.5 h + paid overtime. Here I work 40 h, without paid overtime.

    The big improvement is that here it is not the hours in the office that counts, but the time billed to our clients. plus creative ideas.

    So as long as I meet the goal of 80% of those 40h billed, and come up with some useful ideas nobody has anything to say.

    At my last job there was a feeling of "Just get this done, you get paid for overtime don't you?" Here there is less pressure to work long hours since there is no personal gain from it. (We have a collective bonus, not a personal).

    Those hours not billed, I spend the way I see fit. If I feel that I need to go away (skiing, fishing, walking) to think about a problem than I can do so. Everybody here seems to think that this is good for productivity.

    I guess I am lucky. The point again: This works!

  • What would I do without my weekly 100 hours of Linux hacking? Seriously, I don't know. ;)
    I guess you should really leave people like myself (job==hobby) out of surveys like this.
  • by bartyboy (99076) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:55AM (#1268884)
    I live and work in Canada.

    My work day begins at 4 am, when I get up to feed the Huskies. At the same time, I have to chase off any polar bears that have been wandering around my igloo.

    By 5:30 am, I have eaten my smoked bacon and am ready to begin my daily 40 mile commute (by dog sled) to work.

    After I get there at about 7:30, I need about 2 hours to get any sensation in my fingers so I can type properly. In that time, our boss holds very productive discussions about last night's hockey game. This keeps the employees happy.

    At about 9:30, when the feeling returns to my limbs, I work for about 15 minutes and then take a coffee break.

    After that, it's time to slaughter a seal and cook it for lunch. We alternate this chore daily between all the employees at the company. (Company pays for the lunch every day - keeps the employees happy, again).

    After lunch, we do about 3 hours of work, and then head home because the sun is setting and it's not safe to be out in the dark in the winter.

    I make my way home by 5 pm, have a beer, watch the hockey game (I like to be ready for the next day's meeting) and go to bed by 8 pm.

    Life is good in Canada.

    Bart
  • by BlueMonk (101716) <BlueMonkMN@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @07:05AM (#1268887) Homepage
    I'm a computer programmer. I find it quite unfortunate (for the unskilled laborers of the world) that I probably put forth far less effort than an unskilled laborer, enjoy my job a good deal more than most, and probably earn a good deal more. Even by doubling my current salary I don't think you could convince me to switch to an unskilled labor job. How ironic. Yes I do make more money than I feel I deserve *compared to the average laborer*, and no I don't think I even put as much effort into it. It's just the luck of the draw I guess.

    On the topic of the main post, I must be unusual. I for one almost never have to work late or even think late. I finish projects so quickly that I'm often left reading Slashdot for a good portion of the day, sometimes all day for days in a row. When I leave work, I *leave* it (behind). I spend the rest of the day on my *own* projects, almost never thinking of anything related to work. Ususally it's TV or music composition, sometimes a personal programming project. That's arguably related because it might be considered practice, but business programming is not very related to game programming.

    Even the extra time, effort and money spent on a 4-year college education (same one as CmdrTaco, BTW!) doesn't account for all that discrepancy that will likely last a lifetime. (BTW, the education was finished early too -- 3 years.)

    I make it a point to be at work 40 hours a week as precisely as possible, since that's what I figure I'm paid for as a full time employee -- no more, no less. Is my job or skill so unique? I haven't yet figured out why my situation seems so different. Am I supposed to find myself a more challenging job? I'm quite happy with what I've got already :-). It's not that I don't get work to do, just that I've never found it necessary to think or work beyond (or even up to) the supposed regular 40 hours a week (8 to 5 minus one hour for lunch).

  • The article states that the average hours/week in the service sector is 32.9.

    It also says that knowledge working is part of the service sector.

    So why does katz seem to think that the average knowledge worker is working 32.9 hours?

    50% of humans are female, programmers are human therefore 50% of programmers are female. I don't think so.
  • Oh, good grief; next, you're going to tell me that the time I spend playing Everquest doesn't count as work time, either.

    How ridiculous. ;)

    meisenst
  • I agree completely. I get paid a decent salary, but have to be on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week. I frequently come in an hour or so early, and always leave .5 hour late. Sometimes I take lunch, most often I eat at my workstation. I drive generally 1.5 to 2 hours each way (leave around 0530, home around 1930). Occasionally I have to check on "things" from home via Internet (or drive in). I'm always thinking about ways to do things at work, while not at work.

    I liked it better when I was hourly, and was compensated when I worked my @$$ off.

    I'm reminded of a scene in Metropolis, when the workers are trudging into their high-rises, head down, to start their work day (dark outside still, too)... feels very familiar to me.

    Technology hasn't improved the productivity of work, it's simply made the workers more accessible, and increased the demands made upon us.

  • During the last two weeks, according to my notebook, I have worked 56 yours and 48 hours, respectively. Of course, I am only allowed to charge for 40 hours each week because the US government contract I charge to does not include overtime. Where we are, we have no choice: there are hundreds of soldiers gearing up and deploying for an exercise and the software simply has to be ready.

    In the commercial world, if we don't make the marketting window, we might as well not have written a line of code. Paying for overtime blows the budget.

    Just try to get management types, with their type-A, "just get it done", obsessive personalities that you should be allowed to have a family, hobbies, or any other outside persuits. They got were they are by dedicating themselves completely to their job. Of course, they're now divorced and their family life is an occasional Saturday with the kids. They just cannot understand those of us who want to keep our families.

  • by paulywog (114255) on Wednesday February 16, 2000 @05:35AM (#1268912)
    It seems important to consider what the government counts as "hours spent working." I wonder what measure the government uses in comparison to what most people count.

    Let's have a new survey. When you say "I work X hrs each week", what do you count?

    [ ] Only the hours you get paid for.
    [ ] Only the hours you spend in an office / home office.
    [ ] Only the hours you actually do business related tasks.
    [ ] All the time you spend thinking about work.
    [ ] Include all the you spend enhancing skills that relate to your work.
    [ ] Other hours: ____________

    In consulting firms, bonuses are often related to the percentage of hours you bill to a client during the year. Wouldn't it be nice if I could count all of the time I spend on my computer at home working on personal projects!? (Gaming makes me a stronger asset to the company!)
  • None. But my resume is on my web site.
  • will tend to shorten the "average" work week. I wonder whether someone working 20 hour weeks for 2 companies is counted as working 40, or 2x20. There are lots of students out there working 20, 10, even 5 hour weeks.

    Remember the old Clemmens line: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  • simple, when a janitor goes home, the work stays at work

    Actually, when a janitor, or any physical laborer, goes home, he (or she) brings the work home in the form of backaches, callouses, and the smell of the greasepit that takes days to get out of your nose. As a young man, I worked a standard 40 hour week humping boxes. For me, at age 20, it wasn't so bad, but for the 40-year-old guys, the work took a permanent toll on their bodies and minds. As soon as they got off work, they had to start drinking to numb themselves. Some life.

    It's a convenience of the service worker to even think about separating "work" and "life." For much of the world, life is work; even surviving takes effort.

    Don't get me wrong, tech workers are being duped into working more hours than they should have to, but let's not feel too sorry for ourselves. After all, we make a choice to work the hours we do, and many people don't have that choice at all.

  • It is not only the amount of time most tech workers work, but also the quality of the work most tech workers do.

    When I worked at McDonalds (when I was in high school), there where managers and employee's standing around, talking, taking smoke break, eating and drink (stolen) food and drink. When I worked there, it was only for 7 1/2 hours, but for about 5 of those hours it was nothing but slack off, doing nothing, chilling in the break room smoking. Only have to make food when the customer order it, if they aren't ordering, there is no need to do extra work. Even the managers slacked off majorly.

    After awhile I got a job doing tech support for an ISP, out of an 8 hour work day, proably 1 hour total was spent towards giving tech support, everything else was playing with their linux and unix system, surfing the web and doing personal email.

    When I hit system admin though after 2 years, everything hit the fan. Sure I put in 10-11 hours on an average work day, but the thing I have noticed, is not the time, but how it is spent. In those other jobs, the majority of the job was "Hurry up and wait", system admin though, all 10-11 hours and spent doing system admin and that is it. Seriously, I take 5 minutes when I first get here (ussually an hour early) to check slash (techinally this is before the work day starts, but I do it from work, so I count it). Take a 5 minute lunch (enough for a pepsi and cig), 5 minutes to post to slash dot.

    The company policy is 3 breaks of 15 minutes each for every 6 hours worked, 1 30-1 hour lunch break.

    Doing personal stuff (like eating, relaxing, taking a break) I probably spent 15 minutes per day, all my co workers eat 15 minutes per break.

    I don't mind it, if I took and hour lunch and more breaks I would be leaving work when it is dark out. (Not that I mind the dark, I just have other things to do at night)

    I personally feel that the quality and amount of work that gets done in the tech feel is more compressed and compact. I haven't meet or worked with an Unix admin yet that takes lunch. When I first starting as a Jr. Admin, the Sr. admin told me "Make sure you take lunch, even if you don't want to"

    "Sure, you want to go grab something in a bit"

    "Nah, I got to get this web server re-configureed"

    "Yea your right, what you using, apache"

    Also, no matter when I leave and no matter how much work I do, I also get the feel that the job "still" isn't done. I could work here 24-7 for a year staight and when I left for sleep, I would probably feel like there is still more to do and that I shouldn't be heading home so soon, anyone else feel this way?

    Well my 5 minutes for posting on slashdot is up, actucally more like ten, I'll probably skip the pop and cig today to make up for it : )
  • At least 55-60, but I quit counting. Too much knowledge about that kind of reality is painful.

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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