· software-development

The working long hours culture

One of the aspects of software development that I’ve thankfully seen relatively infrequently over the last few years is that of some people in teams working long hours on a consistent basis.

I have seen it happen on a few occasions and I think it can have a detrimental effect on a team rather than the good which is presumably intended.

The biggest disadvantage is that it makes other people in the team feel guilty that they aren’t working long hours and they may feel peer pressured into matching the hours of their colleagues.

In a conversation with Sumeet about work/life balance he pointed out that if you really enjoy what you do for work then you don’t necessarily see a clear distinction between the two and it wouldn’t be a big deal to work for 10+ hours a day.

While I understand this point of view I think in a team environment it’s very easy to start believing that you’re more important to a team because you put in more hours.

It’s then very easy to stop valuing the contributions of your colleagues or considering their opinions less important since they only worked a standard work day.

Someone isn’t necessarily not committed to something because they don’t spend their whole life doing it.

Another aspect to this which is easy to overlook is that the people working these long hours might not actually be working in a particularly effective way.

If I spend most of the day getting distracted/procrastinating and end up ‘working’ for 12 hours then I may actually end up being just as productive as someone who works only 8 hours but is much more focused during that time.

Even if we assume that someone is productive for 12 hours a day it still isn’t necessarily great because they’ll end up being the only one who knows the code that they write when everyone else has gone home.

When I was in Pune one of the other teams in the office had a mandated finish time of 6.30 and it actually seemed to help people remain focused during their time in the office because they knew they wouldn’t be able to work after that time.

I’m not necessarily a fan of setting rules of what people can/should be allowed to do but in that case it seemed to work reasonably well.

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