How To Make Your Staff Work 80 Hour Weeks
What the answer to this question should really be
There was a post on Quora that made the rounds recently wherein the OP asked a fairly simple question. It’s short enough to post in full. I warn in advance that some fruity language follows.
Programmers in our startup usually put 8 hours and go home. I keep reading stories about 80+ hour weeks. How do you make them work longer hours? Do we have to pay overtime? We gave few of them some equity, but it doesn’t seem to work.
There are a number of responses that discuss true productivity as distinct from work hours, creativity, cognitive loads and so on. Most stress that it’s important to focus on a more sustainable level of productivity for a better long term result.
I’m not Quora user mostly because I have lingering self-respect, so I’ll post my answer right here. The answer that I’m honestly surprised wasn’t the first and only answer.
What the fuck is wrong with you, you absolute goddamn psychopath?
Seriously. Who reads about death marches and 80 hour weeks and thinks “hey, that sounds great!” Anyone who tries to make their employees spend 16 hours a day slaving like some sort of coding sweat shop should be run out of the industry. They shouldn’t be engaged in a positive discussion of contemporary project management best-practise.
This person actually thinks it’s good to expect developers to spend two thirds of their lives in the office. Fuck eating. Fuck sleep. Fuck having any concept of a work-life balance. Work. Code. Work slave work. This isn’t something that can be educated. Their attitude to people is unacceptably terrible.
If they’re spending time in management, they’re going to be neglecting their all-important volcano lairs and tying women to railroad tracks.
Let me get something out: I’m super pro-union. I’m Australian and we have strong working class rights attitudes, and even though I’m a white collar worker myself I come from a blue collar background.
That said, our entire industry is not unionised. There are reasons for that which are complex, interesting and irrelevant. What it does mean is that we need to stand up for ourselves, and if we see unacceptable behaviour in our industry we must shut it down. We especially need to educate junior developers on what isn’t normal, what isn’t ok.
So let me just say it outright: twirl your moustache somewhere else. You don’t belong anywhere you have influence over people.