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Are 10-11 Hour Programming Days Feasible?

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the what-share-of-the-company-is-he-offering? dept.

Programming 997

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

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Bye-bye! (5, Insightful)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 4 years ago | (#34870034)

'Nuff said!

Re:Bye-bye! (4, Insightful)

Evets (629327) | about 4 years ago | (#34870162)

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

Re:Bye-bye! (1)

spongman (182339) | about 4 years ago | (#34870384)

better yet. get together with your like-minded colleagues. write a letter to the chairman of the board telling them your position and threatening that you'll all quit if this kind of shit continues...

No thanks... (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 years ago | (#34870046)

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

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

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

What's the incentive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870048)

Why wouldn't all the employees leave? Why SHOULDN'T they?

Don't Say Anything (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870054)

Start your job hunt now.

Of course... (4, Funny)

adisakp (705706) | about 4 years ago | (#34870058)

I'd take a reduction in hours anyday.

Re:Of course... (4, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | about 4 years ago | (#34870080)

Seriously... I work in the game industry and on one project I worked over 100 hours a week for four months straight.

Re:Of course... (4, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | about 4 years ago | (#34870178)

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

Re:Of course... (4, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | about 4 years ago | (#34870306)

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

Re:Of course... (1)

rwven (663186) | about 4 years ago | (#34870362)

Haha, I believe you just proved my point perfectly. Bosses take note!

Re:Of course... (4, Interesting)

adisakp (705706) | about 4 years ago | (#34870416)

Haha, I believe you just proved my point perfectly. Bosses take note!

I don't know if you want the bosses to take note on that example. In that particular case, I made the company a ton of money (at least compared to what I was getting paid) and successfully finished a game under the incredible strain of near literal death march. All it showed the company was that nearly working your employees to death can be quite profitable.

Re:Of course... (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | about 4 years ago | (#34870274)

And this is why I never want to work in the game industry and cringe when I hear people talking about how cool it would be.

Re:Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870368)

You forgot to mention the critical bit of information: Was it worth it?

Do this: (1)

mbryant (1720718) | about 4 years ago | (#34870060)

Tell him he's crazy. But be much more polite than that.

Re:Do this: (1)

rwven (663186) | about 4 years ago | (#34870244)


"Working overtime sucks the spirit and motivation out of your team. When your team becomes tired and demoralized they will get less work done, not more, no matter how many hours are worked. Becoming over worked today steals development progress from the future."
Quoted from: http://www.extremeprogramming.org/rules/overtime.html [extremeprogramming.org]

If your boss wants you to work 10-11 hours a day, he probably would get more done by asking you to work 6-7 hours a day instead, and canceling all non-stand-up meetings for the foreseeable future.

Re:Do this: (2)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 4 years ago | (#34870386)

or better yet move people into a 4/10 schedule. When I program and get into a groove I'm very productive until I'm taken out of that groove. A longer work day would extend that groove, but compensate with a 4/10 so you do not become overworked

Re:Do this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870380)

There are situations in which 10-11 hour programming days are the right thing to do, but they're usually the result of planning errors that would otherwise lead to the demise of the company, and they can not last longer than a few weeks. After that, the code quality from these marathon sessions deteriorates too much and nothing is gained, but people burn out.

they suck and you will get burned out (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870064)

They suck and you will get burned out.

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

Market's good, bail asap.

Re:they suck and you will get burned out (1)

rwven (663186) | about 4 years ago | (#34870322)

High pressure almost always equates to rushed and crummy code. I've seen it in plenty of other peoples code, and mine as well. I get MORE done, and my work is HIGHER quality when the pressure is off.

Re:they suck and you will get burned out (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#34870406)

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

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

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

Yes and No (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870066)

Yes, but not for long periods of time.

Re:Yes and No (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 4 years ago | (#34870428)

In past when I was working for start-ups, we often needed the 10-12-more hours coding runs. My highest personal record is somewhere at 20 hours of effective coding without long breaks. But after that I needed at least one day off.

If work and work environment are all set properly, even the 8 hours a day is too much. In heavy coding runs, e.g. I'm burning my daily brains' capacity in about 5-6 hours.

If work is a dumb typing then, yeah, 8 hours is piece of cake. But more than 8 hours ... I have never seen a company with sustainable working schedule of more than 8 hours. Less than 8 - yes. More than 8 - not once.

Time to look for a new job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870090)

It isn't worth it; if you have "a boss" you should never work those kind of hours.

More work deserves more compensation (4, Insightful)

bobdotorg (598873) | about 4 years ago | (#34870094)

Give him three options:

More pay
Ownership stake
Look for your replacement

Re:More work deserves more compensation (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 4 years ago | (#34870186)

Give him three options:

More pay
Ownership stake
Look for your replacement

That's the boring answer. "You want more ok gimme more". The real question is, do more hours result in more work done. From personal experience, no.

If your boss is making you work 11 hours a day, it may be a symptom of some other problem the product/approach in the company has. Look for it and find it.

Re:More work deserves more compensation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870316)

I believe Joel Spolsky has also said that programmers are only really productive about two hours a day. The rest of the time is mental preparation and digesting and stuff.
Don't have a link handy though.

Re:More work deserves more compensation (1)

sauge (930823) | about 4 years ago | (#34870382)

"If your boss is making you work 11 hours a day, it may be a symptom of some other problem the product/approach in the company has. Look for it and find it."

Expanding on this, the OP noted they wanted more features. It takes time to make a mature feature filled product. Best to figure out the features most desired and the "low hanging fruit" features and focus on them.

It sounds like the boss doesn't know the difference between "nice to have" and "need to have." (Among other things like common sense managing people.)

Re:More work deserves more compensation (1)

spongman (182339) | about 4 years ago | (#34870326)

two more:
- hire more people
- change his productivity goals

If (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 4 years ago | (#34870100)

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

Re:If (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870234)

He wrote "10-11 hour days", not "10 11-hour days".

Re:If (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870312)

He wrote "10-11 hour days", not "10 11-hour days".

Above ment 10-11 (1 hour days). So there would be 355 days left.

Re:If (2)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 4 years ago | (#34870392)


Um... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34870102)

I'd tell him to get stuffed, that there's no way unless I was receiving a meaningful ownership stake in the company that I'd sacrifice my life to make things profitable.

Re:Um... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870196)

You don't want ownership stake in a non-profitable company that has to make its employees work absurd hours to become profitable.

Financial incentives aren't always salary (4, Insightful)

ezratrumpet (937206) | about 4 years ago | (#34870106)

People must be paid. Stock options are a form of payment. But people don't work for free.

Feasible? Sure! (3, Insightful)

fzimper (201054) | about 4 years ago | (#34870110)

Effective? Hardly!

too vague of a timeline (5, Insightful)

anjilslaire (968692) | about 4 years ago | (#34870112)

"until the company is profitable" is way too vague to work like that.

Tell him to issue stock. (4, Insightful)

dbc (135354) | about 4 years ago | (#34870126)

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

Re:Tell him to issue stock. (4, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | about 4 years ago | (#34870258)

Hey guys our company is failing can I convince you to work for a stake in our company

Short answer ... (4, Insightful)

Bake (2609) | about 4 years ago | (#34870128)


Long answer: Heck no.

do not want (1)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | about 4 years ago | (#34870132)

11-hour days is a fast track to high attrition unless everyone knows the probability of success is near certain.

Make it worth their while (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 4 years ago | (#34870134)

Profit sharing. If those who put in the extra effort were rewarded by some form of profit sharing like stock options or partial ownership it could be made to work. The idea of working extra time with no extra pay or recognition is a sure way to lower morale. Lower morale leads to lower productivity and higher turnover. Lower productivity and high turnover will seriously impede profitability. Be sure he does the full cost/benefit analysis.

Tell him you quit (3, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 4 years ago | (#34870136)

I'd say the next time you talk about this should be the day you find a new job. Tell him you quit, and tell him why.

That a 4x10 work week... (3)

manonthemoon (537690) | about 4 years ago | (#34870144)

sounds like a great idea.

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

"Fuck you, I quit." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870146)


Until the company is profitable is too vague (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870154)

The actual planning might consider 3 months from now the company is going to be profitable. But it could very well change en route. I wouldn't want to give more than 50 hours a week for an indefinite period.

Explain the math (4, Insightful)

mdf356 (774923) | about 4 years ago | (#34870156)

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

Re:Explain the math (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#34870288)

While I heartily recommend leaving- there is a high cost to the 8 hour day.

You spend 30 to 45 minutes coming up to speed. Then you work about 6 hours (minus food and potty breaks). Then you STOP just as you are in the zone.

I prefer to work to a deadline. I prefer to work long hours- finish the project and then take time off. My productivity in the 6 to 11 hour period is very high because I have the code fully loaded in my head at that point.

The worst thing for productivity is 2 hours of coding, 2 hours of meeting, another hour of coding, then an hour of meetings-- then go home. Sleep. Then come back. Spend an hour on change documents. Code some more. BLEH!

I do not prefer to work the way they are working us now. But times are tough- jobs are in short supply. I have friends out of work for over 24 months now.

Your mileage may be different. You may be able to easily leave and find a new reliable job.

Burn-out. (4, Interesting)

CoolGopher (142933) | about 4 years ago | (#34870158)

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

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

Employees Will Probably Leave (3, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#34870160)

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

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

.. and take their new learning with them. (1)

AkkarAnadyr (164341) | about 4 years ago | (#34870266)

You can add the "what's in it for me" aspect by noting that an intense environment like a startup gives the programmers experience that's hard to get anywhere else, and he'll have put the resources into that training. Does he really want them to take that value to a competitor?

The 'closer' this points towards is "PAY UP DUDE!", but the pro's leave that implied. (Unless he's a PHB at heart.)

Tell him... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870166)

1. That you don't work for free, and not to expect you to.
2. If he wants extra hours of work a day out of employees, he'd damn well either better pay you for them, or hire more people to work the extra hours.
3. If it's not feasable to be profitable without paying your employees the equivilant of slave wages below minimum wage (once adjusted to hourly), then the business model is broken and this business does not deserve to remain in business.
4. Even at 8 hours, the mind can be completely shot if you're trying to push someone to work at absolute full throttle for those hours. Trying to increase that time will just add more errors, create stress and unhappiness in the workplace, and increase employee turnover. Adding MORE breaks and making it LESS stressful creates good work being done.
5. He should be fired as a boss for even suggesting this.

It sounds painful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870168)

From my experience, the turnover rate is usually horrendous. With no stock in the company or added benefits from the company - most employees will rather find work somewhere else. If you want to entice salaried workers, offer them an incentive - or at the very least 1.5-2x over time.

Yes they are feasible. (5, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#34870172)

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

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

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

You need to change your handle to... (4, Funny)

manonthemoon (537690) | about 4 years ago | (#34870270)


Re:You need to change your handle to... (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#34870374)

I managed to avoid this the first 13 months. They asked "who wants to be on the new exciting project in new technology that will really beef up your resume!?!?

90% of the team hopped on it-- I said, "I want support!" Old technology. Put in 13 months of 40 hour light duty work.

Then they tapped me. Two frikkin days before my vacation. Ruined almost all of it.

It's finished in two more months. So I'll have been on the new software team for about 7 months. I hate it. Feels like they stole a year of my life.

Re:Yes they are feasible. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870348)

You can get dinner anywhere. You only get one life.

Re:Yes they are feasible. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#34870436)

Yup. If I get through this 7 months, I get 6-8 years of job security with reasonable hours again.
I have friends who have been out of work over 24 months. They are not very happy with their "one life".

Mine sucks but not that badly.

I didn't say I like this. And people who can change jobs SHOULD do so in these cases. But it is possible to work 2 years of 10 to 11 hour days. We consider a 10 hour day a recovery day. Lol

See! (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#34870182)

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

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

What would he say to 25-37.5% raises? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870184)

If the employees asked for a 25-37.5% raise for the same 8 hour day that would be identical to what he's asking from them right now...

How about you suggest (2)

WarwickRyan (780794) | about 4 years ago | (#34870198)

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

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

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

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870200)

Think it would behoove you to check the article at Tech Crunch re: the Myspace employees. http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/11/bitterness-anger-and-betrayal-at-myspace/

You need to make sure the stake of the workers on par with the brass. If that is not up for negotiation, then options to consider need to include at a minimum telecommuting and/or rotational 3/4 day weekends.

Not without compensation (2)

usacomp2k3 (972768) | about 4 years ago | (#34870216)

I don't work more than ~45 hours per week unless it's my own fault that something is behind. That's because I'm salary, and overtime exempt. My priorities in life involve family being above work and the best way to show that is with time. Now if there is overtime, then I'd be happy to work more (to a point). Or if I owned the business and thus had an increase of profit with a greater expenditure of time investment, then I'd do so as well.

Tell him your Chinese mom wants you to excel (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870220)

and that of course you are honored to work these hours. After all you are not an ungrateful slacker like others

Why Chinese Moms are Superior [wsj.com] , in the Wall Street Journal, the daily reading of every corporate leader

There has to be light... and pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870224)

There has to be something for people to look forward to for them to put up with crappy conditions. Callout people who get woken up every night at 3am continue to do the work because they need (or love) the job and know it's only for a week or two before they are rotated out.

If the company turns profitable because of your hard work will you get raises, bonus vacation time, or what? Just saying "Work Harder, Code Monkeys!" doesn't seem like it would work for long.

If all else fails, at least try to get free pizza.

Get ready to leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870226)

If his business plan is to jam as many features as possible in and do so by taking advantage of employees he is going to fail. For success he should have a well thought out product that can be achieved in a reasonable manner. Sounds like he will be the victim of a death march for the sake of feature creep.

A rule from XP (eXtreme Programming) (2)

rewt66 (738525) | about 4 years ago | (#34870236)

Never work overtime for longer than a week.

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

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

I would say (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 4 years ago | (#34870238)

Thank you that I at least have a job doing what I love, and as long as you sign my paycheck, I'll do whatever I am told to do.

In case it's not obvious, I'm of the young-and-idealistic type.

Re:I would say (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 4 years ago | (#34870280)

Of course, after I hit him with the Employee of the Month act, I'd probably ask for a raise at the very least. No sense in being pleasant if you don't get anything out of it.

Bad things happen when you code tired (1)

Mhtsos (586325) | about 4 years ago | (#34870246)

On Friday night of 11 hour days you don't WANT me touching your codebase. One little mistake can cost you days of debugging. If your work forse is tired enough you might generate bugs faster than you can fix them.

Sure, go ahead! (1)

headkase (533448) | about 4 years ago | (#34870248)

Just pay us all hourly. And remember, we can anonymously talk about unionizing.. Many places to do that!

Ask for a cut of the profits .... (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 4 years ago | (#34870252)

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

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

Peopleware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870254)

For an elegant argument against crunch time, point him towards Peopleware by DeMarco and Lister. And if he want's to hear it from Joel, check out this article [joelonsoftware.com]

If he still thinks 11 hour days are smart, you should probably be looking for a smarter boss.

Well, (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 4 years ago | (#34870256)

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

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

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

No carrot (1)

eko3 (1975468) | about 4 years ago | (#34870268)

The only way you can keep that kind of focus for any duration is if you have something at stake. Basically, what the owner is saying is: "I want you to work like an owner in this business with none of the upside". It sounds like your boss in an unreasonable, greedy asshole. Negotiate equity or get out.

JeanHuguesRobert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870272)

Ask for a second big LCD screen per employee (that's supposed to increase productivity) and see the reaction.

If the reaction is negative... escape

Everyone needs to Win (1)

aphxtwn (702841) | about 4 years ago | (#34870286)

It has to be balance between the employer/employee for this thing to work. If the employee gets awesome compensation and the employer doesn't get something worthwhile in return, it doesn't work. Likewise, if the employee doesn't get decent compensation and the employer gets some valuable product, it doesn't work. If the employee and the employer both benefit, then everyone wins and there is balance in the give/take. In those unbalanced situations, either an employee quits or they're canned.

I suppose you could take advantage of the economy and low ball new hires and work them like dogs, but that's a pretty gruesome way to run a business.

Just Read This (5, Informative)

TexVex (669445) | about 4 years ago | (#34870290)

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

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

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

Exahuastion leads to bad code. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870294)

Broken code drives customers away.

If the only question on the table is how hard you are working and your boss doesn't know enough to have a feel for what that is going to do to people the company is being mismanaged. Sometimes a product is so compelling a mismanaged company makes it to profitability but that doesn't happen when you have to work for it.

In your case I would ask if your boss is willing to pay 4 hours of overtime to every programmer until the company is profitable.

Your boss is asking the wrong questions, and proposing the wrong solutions. Unless you enjoy it get out.

no need for deadlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870298)

I don't even think 8 hours a day is healthy. Plus, we are at a stage of our tech evolution that there is no NEED for new software to be made quickly, new stuff is coming out all the time from various companies and the open source community. If there is a need, it will be filled. There is no profit motive necessary anymore.

So tell him to suck a lemon. You might lose your job, but its better than losing your mind.

Sure it's possible..... (3, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | about 4 years ago | (#34870300)

When I worked for the federal government we had the option to work four 10 hours days and then got to take Friday off. It was pretty sweet especially if you could go down to your car and take a brief power nap during lunch.

Re:Sure it's possible..... (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#34870426)

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

I am far more productive this way.

Get out. (1)

gd23ka (324741) | about 4 years ago | (#34870304)

The thing to do is to ask for a cut. Not that I would take it, people working for weeks 10-11 hours straight every day for no good reason tells me the entire program is a fail.

hours are a poor measure of productivity. (1)

LukeCrawford (918758) | about 4 years ago | (#34870318)

Probably the best programmer I know outright states that he can't productively code for more than four hours a day; but he gets more done in those four hours than most people can do in a week.

If you outright tell people to work for 10-11 hours a day, first your good programmers will all leave. Next, those who can't immediately get better jobs will take long lunches, show up a little late and leave a little early. If you enforce time in-seat somehow, you will have more and more people spending time on slashdot or facebook.

Just say no... (1)

neowolf (173735) | about 4 years ago | (#34870324)

Okay, do it politely... I would just explain that they would be asking too much of staff and would likely lose many of them rather quickly. Perhaps if there was some real incentive (like stock/profit sharing) they might have a better shot at it- but if they are only paying standard wages on salary- it isn't worth it. If he asks you point-blank if you will leave- just say something like "I have no immediate plans to leave, and I can't make any future determination at this time." (If it were me- I would probably start making plans to leave anyway...)

Too much overtime means less effective work done (1)

mckellar75238 (1218210) | about 4 years ago | (#34870328)

Tell him that too much overtime is counter-productive, because the error count goes up faster than the extra work does. Anyone who can work much over 45 hours a week without suffering a drop in effectiveness isn't putting out full effort while working less than that. If he doesn't agree, find another job fast -- he doesn't know what he's doing.

Get compensated, may be ok (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | about 4 years ago | (#34870330)

I don't know your particular circumstances .. maybe you have a family and working those hours is unacceptable. Maybe you are single and don't mind. Whatever. But if you decide to do long programming days, you need to get additional compensation for it.

You mentioned everyone is on standard industry rates - that rate doesn't assume 10-11 hr days. Raise the salary (or go OT, or some other compensation that seems fair to you.) Else, say no.

(BTW, I'm amused that your boss had to read that "the best way to get new customers is to add new features". Seems obvious.)

Hours (4, Insightful)

Andy Smith (55346) | about 4 years ago | (#34870352)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask for Incentives (1)

burgew (91777) | about 4 years ago | (#34870360)

Tell him to give everyone a 50,000 share stock grant, and then ask them to work extra hours for a specific period of time.

I think Dick Cheney said it best... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870364)

"Go fuck yourself".

Look to MySpace as an Example (2)

ax2groin (543892) | about 4 years ago | (#34870372)

MySpace had their employees working like this back about October, and look where they are now!

David Cook (1)

andy.ivie (1976196) | about 4 years ago | (#34870378)

drc37 => github.com/drc37 => twitter.com/drc37 => David Cook => bloomfire.com/about-us So, in this story we have the tale of Bloomfire, a company founded in 2010 that mashes up YouTube, Yahoo Answers, and Facebook. I'm currently in a startup operation myself, and I can relate to where you are coming from and your boss. I'm an owner in my situation, which seems to make a pretty big difference on the level of time I'm willing to sacrifice for the company to be successful than some of my employees. As a principle, this should just be another exercise in cost/benefit analysis for you. Is it worth it to you to sacrifice that time with your family to make this company successful? If it's not, start looking elsewhere. If you believe fully in the company, and there is some feeling that you'll be rewarded if it is successful, get it in writing. Also realize that your employees will do the same thing. You may not lose any headcount, but you'll have to be creative in finding ways to not torpedo your morale. These mashup sites aren't my cup of cocoa, but maybe you think you can add something original. One principle is to do your best to not give up your most valuable asset (time) for nothing in return. As a fellow BYU grad (assuming I stalked you down accurately), my advice is to talk it over with your family and pray about it. Good luck!

HELL NO!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870388)

Not JUST no but HELL NO!! unless it's 4x10. Don't create a precedent.

What is it worth to him? (2)

new death barbie (240326) | about 4 years ago | (#34870396)

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

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

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

-- Do you trust him to keep his word?

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

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

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

easy (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#34870400)

A) no one can work those ares ina long term sustained hour and produce more then a 40 hour work week.

B) He will loose all the in house knowledge base

C) The company will fail

D) Tell him to stop reading Joel and actually think about creating a core base of customers.

The only way to compensate fr that si to give the employees a sizable piece.

There is no way I will work more then 40 unless I am extremely well compensated.

Seriously, why would I piss 60+ hours a week for the same pay as 40? That's a suckers game.

Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870402)

Why not. I'm sure the company will quickly become profitable not having to pay any of your salaries after you've left.

some good advice (1)

Fineliner (1971154) | about 4 years ago | (#34870404)

Tell your bos the following.

Let is all your programmers be one day free at work, they may not work on current tasks.
They can program whatever they want, let them do it once a month.
Only ask of them to give a small presentation of what they did.

This has been done in other programming companies too.
The effect was that people started to work on like old issues which they never got time for, or new things some related but others not related to the product.
In a year they had enough new gadgets to create a new product line and the had enough 'funny' code to improve their product gadget factor.

Conclusion creativity doesnt come with working hours, but rather by reflection, by doing strange things, or taking a set back.
The best ideas arise often when you sleep, your not a typing monkey.. your human people need to pay attention to live like humans to get products for humans.
How do you think Apple does it, by using coding monkeys ?

Overwork Multiplies Bugs (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 4 years ago | (#34870410)

If that's not a recognised law of programming, it should be.

I remember pulling an all-nighter on a coding project in college before taking a 2 hour sleep break before the final stretch. After 2 hours I looked at the code again and was aghast at the garbage which seemed perfectly sound, logical code before the break.

(I fixed those things up and it worked pretty good on first compile.)

It's Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34870432)

Well known decline in productivity per hour beyond eight. If you're really working hard to the bone it probably starts to drop off at more like five hours. Some of the best minds I have run across suggest that your active work should be limited to perhaps even four hours per day with a lot of percolation. Depends on the nature of the work.

Do you believe in the viability of the company? What the hell is your reward for making things work out for the owners? I once worked for over two months without a paycheck in a small company where the CEO just didn't give a shit. He would lie to anybody about anything for his own short term interest. He never sold his company airplane even after he laid off nearly all staff. I was the last developer remaining from staff until I finally escaped to another company in a horrible economy. As far as I know his company fell completely apart, despite his faith in himself.

Long days/hours can arise as a necessity of the peaks and valleys in IT workflow. Anything more than occasional needs for some extra hours merely amounts to poor management and planning or a greedy attempt to exploit staff.

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