How is the working culture in the IT field?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by scyap, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. scyap macrumors member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Firstly, I'm sorry if I posted in the wrong section, I would like to mainly capture the attention of those in working the IT field...

    I am wondering, in your country, how is the working environment for those in the IT field?

    Would it be considered acceptable to work an average 85 hours per week without overtime? Considering that your firm pays ~25% above market rate?

    For anyone in the IT field, it doesn't matter if you're in the development/testing/intelligence/analysis/management/support team etc...

    Please also state your country of origin...
    I'm just curious how it is in other countries around the world :)
  2. techgeek macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2004
    Software engineering, UK.

    No it would not be acceptable to average 85 hours per week with or without overtime.
    First off there are working time directives from the EU which limits the average working week to 48 hours. You can choose to opt out of this if you wish though.
    But mainly if you are working that many hours regularly you are not productive. You get frazzled and end up slowing yourself and everyone else down.
  3. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    Interesting. You're willing to take only 25% over local rates for more than twice the working hours, and not receive over time pay. Oh, and have no life!

    You'll burn out very fast consistently working 85 hour weeks. Also as already pointed out, the quality of your work will suffer.

    Hell, do the math to see how that company is ripping off its employees.

    Say the standard rate is 70k/year for 2000 hrs of work based on a 40hr week. 25% above 70k is 87.5k. Now consider the hours you'd be working for that mere 15% increase; 4250 hours! On just straight overtime pay you should have received 148.75k!

    My experience is Canada and U.S.A. I've done my share of overtime. I wouldn't consider such a high rip rate.
  4. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    UK - working in the IT industry for 25+ years

    While it's not unusual to put such long hours in for short periods as deadlines approach, there is no way I'd say 85 hours a week on average is acceptable for any amount of pay, never mind for only 25% more. Your employer is getting more than the equivalent of 2 people's work out of you and only paying 25% above the cost of a single employee (in theory - in practice, as others have said, your productivity will drop off massively if you consistently have to work those hours)
  5. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    In order of making the most to the least sense, here's the ways you can be compensated:

    Per Task > Per Hour > Per Year

    Honestly, salaries are the dumbest way you can be compensated. If you take a salary, that means no matter how much you work, you're making the same amount. You have no incentive to work quicker (as you would if you were paid per task) and you have no incentive to work more frequently (as you would if you were paid per hour.) For your employer, he's screwed over paying you the same amount regardless of how well (or not) you do.
  6. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    85 hours per week? Anyone working 85 hours a week is an idiot. First, for working 85 hours per week. Second, because working 85 hours a week turns your brain into mush so again, they become an idiot. Their employer is an idiot as well, because anyone working 85 hours a week isn't producing anything useful.

    Here's how it works: If you work sixty hours a week for six weeks, your productivity is about the same as someone working forty hours a week. That is 50% more work with zero added productivity. After these six weeks, you have a worn out employee with a lot _less_ productivity than the person doing forty hours.

    First study about this that I read about was by Eysenck in wartime Britain, who found that people working in arms manufacturing for 57 hours a week produced _less_ than people working 48 hours a week. And you might assume that these people were highly motivated.
  7. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    U.S. here, primarily from a software development perspective.

    No, that would be very unusual and you'd be pretty stupid to accept such conditions. (e.g., why not take two jobs... work the same hours and make twice as much, not just 25% more?)

    It's also stupid of an employer to try to get this from employees. The problem is that IT people are mainly paid to think... to think of optimal solutions to problems. If an employee is exhausted or resentful, etc., they are not thinking optimally. One could be (or appear to be) very busy but accomplishing little useful work. Not that employers often grasp this. But asking 85 hours per week on an on-going basis is particularly stupid.

    At times 85 hours per week is necessary to get the job done. But, realistically, if people do that more than a week or two at a time and more than once or twice a year, it does not actually accomplish anything.

    In my experience, people will put in the time if forced to (or appear to). But it amounts to nothing and just pisses everyone off. I think you end up training your employees on how to look like they are busy without actually engaging in their work so it becomes counter-productive.
  8. softwareguy256 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2010
    depends where you work. 80 hours is a bit much by any reasonable standard. For those who are just looking busy that is where the ever hated LOC and code check-in metrics come into play. A few sampled commits and I have a good idea what someone was doing for all those hours!

  9. lee1210 macrumors 68040


    Jan 10, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    I've worked 1 90-100 or so week. I don't believe I will ever do it again. I have worked 2-3 65-70 hour weeks. I have worked tons of 50-55 hour weeks. For a long time ~45 was standard. Recently I've been trying for ~40, with a "burst" of a few hours more when required.

    My health suffered so much the 1 ~100 hour week I know that anywhere near that is simply out of the question. > 50 is unmaintainable. 44-46 is achievable regularly without a huge problem. But what are you doing it for? Is sheer physical presence what's important or is mental presence also required? Are people's safety on the line where you work? Have you made a big mistake yet?

    This is untenable for you and your employer. It's practically impossible to bring new people in now and have them make a near term impact. There are unrealistic expectations, and they need to be adjusted. That reality check may need to be attrition, but you can try reasoning with them. Take note that you are doing a disservice to them, to yourself, and your peers. It sets silly expectations and will lead to a big crash soon.

    1.25x / (17/8) = Your rate = .59x
    x = standard rate
    You're stating you're worth about 3/5 of the standard rate. And you're willing to do it more than twice.

    I'd ask myself: Am I willing to give the company a 40% discount so they'll let me work twice? Can you even enjoy any of the ~60 hours left in the week (~30 waking assuming minimal sleep)? Are you accruing comp time (I.e. 8 weeks on, 9 weeks off)? Are you being given regular grants of equity? Would you be doing this if you weren't getting paid at all?

    I think the basic gist is, wherever you are, these are bad conditions. Not 1890s meat packing plant bad, but awful by modern standards.

  10. scyap, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

    scyap thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Thanks guys, I get an idea now... Heh...

    I'm not from US/Europe... It's quite different in my country where people just work pretty long hours and there isn't much or any labor laws/welfares/union to protect employees...

    You'd be surprised then, that these companies (at least in my country) that do that are actually incredibly huge firms (yes, plural) well known globally... I also researched into some of the Big Four, and it seems that some also work close to 85 a week (IT department of course, not audit)... So yeah, doing 45 hours a week is an incredibly relaxing job :eek:

    Forgot to mention that in these firms, your peers and even the employERS work >80 a week
  11. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    Since you asked what countries we where reporting from, it is courtesy to return the favor.
  12. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Working 80 hours a week is just stupid, stupid, stupid. The only reason why someone would work 80 hours a week is when the product is not the code that was written, but "billable hours"; if you can charge a customer twice as much money for 80 hours worth of rubbish code that does less than good code written in 40 hours. In which case the customer should run, run, run.
  13. Mac_Max macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2004
    If you work for an abusive employer then you're quite right. However if your company is using salaries the way they should be - that is to say, paying you for overall work completed - then they're fantastic. I set my own schedule, get paid when I take vacation, don't have to work on site, go home early if I'm not in the mood to work, etc. No one complains when I take a day off since they know I'm going to get my work done by when it needs to get done. I probably work 50 hours per week because I'll get caught up in what I'm doing (and enjoy it). On the incentives side there are compensation tools like profit sharing, stock options, and performance bonuses. Those tend to work for me as motivators just fine. But again, if the company doesn't work on these principles their salary probably isn't the best deal.

    To the OP, there is no way on God's green Earth that I'd take that lot. You'd be better off working two different jobs... Or just the hours you're being paid for. The expectation shouldn't be that you have to run yourself to death for their benefit. Stand up for yourself and if they balk, quit and find a better environment. I'd read needing to pull 80 hour weeks every week as a sign that they're either really screwed up or understaffed.
  14. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Remember this: It doesn't work anyway. After four weeks of 80 hours you have zombies in the office who won't achieve anything. A manager asking you to work 80 hours is a bloody idiot. Mean and nasty as well, but also an idiot. Yes, they are really screwed. The may not actually be understaffed; people doing 80 hours a week are just less productive than people doing 40 hours (not less productive per hour, but less productive per week).
  15. sperry1988 macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2011
    Asking how it is to work in the IT field is like asking how it is to work in the medical world, are you talking how is it for a doctor, a nurse, a helthcare insurance provider?

    This is my personal take:

    There are 4 main areas:
    Big IT
    Description: the guys who some around and fix your windows computer at the local fortune 500 company, manages the companies servers or data wharehousing. Generally (not always) requires a degree from a larger name school. (aka not Devry)

    This job can sometime be very frustrating but is also very lucrative. expect semi long hours (not 85 w/o overtime though)..

    Small IT
    Like big IT this job is also very frustrating (due to lack of employee knowledge). you be fixing small problem a lot, lots of password resetting, and always dealing with subpar/7 year old equipment. Your budget along with pay will be much smaller than that of Big IT but could lead to a job to that.

    Software Development
    This area you can make a decent to great living depending on your schooling and skills. This is also were you will be doing some long weeks (but not all year round, only a few weeks a year). sometimes this can be really stressful, other times there is no other job you would rather have.

    Entrepreneur Software Developer
    I added this one because i originally worked as a software developer for a corporation. I then decided once i saved up enough money to live off of for a while i would go off on my own, I thought it would be basically the same but its sooo very different...

    This is were 85+ hour weeks with no OT come into play. And trust me there are a lot of those especially at first. Your always going to be working late, always unsure about your future, it can be very stressful.

    At the same time its the best job i have ever had. You dont have to get your designs approved by someone whos only interaction with computers and technology is facebook youtube and microsoft office.. Things get implemented very quickly. You decide what features get added and how important they are.

    PS. if you go this route, find someone who has no clue about tech but can sell the hell outa anything and partner with him.
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Before a big deadline, I was getting mass emails from developers who were working at 3am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, and I didn't think anything of it.

    Of course when things slow down they start coming in an hour late, so it all evens out I suppose.

    But 85 hours? No way, not at all. My company has a 35 hour work week, and that's including lunch!

    (I get this feeling I work for a fantastic company though)
  17. dantastic macrumors 6502a


    Jan 21, 2011
    As a developer I work from 9am to 5:30 sharp. I take 1hr lunch and I make sure to go out and get some fresh air. My best work is always produced before lunch, I try to schedule any meetings in the afternoon to avoid clogging up my "good hours" with meetings.

    After 6pm my code is poor.

    After 8pm my code is rubbish.

    I think this is true for most developers, after so many hours your code quality declines. Something that is difficult to understand at 8pm may have a simple solution the next morning at 8am.

    So if you are working 85hrs per week I think you are probably doing more damage to the code base than anything else.
  18. nizmoz macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    85 hours per week is insane. I been in IT for over 20 years. And there are weekends you need to work or later in the evenings, but I normally only work a 40 hour week when things are running right. The most I have done is 60 hours and that is when issues occur or upgrades are needed.

    So no, it's not normal. If a company expects you to do that I would not work for them.
  19. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Regularly working that many hours per week is a fail on multiple levels.

    It's a failure by management to recognize that making people work twice the hours does NOT equal twice the productivity. They need either to hire more people (which itself is possibly not going to solve the problem) or allow more time in the schedule.

    It's a failure by project managers to schedule and/or estimate properly if they are regularly telling clients "we'll have it done in a month" and then making you work that long to get it done.

    It's a failure of the employees to realize they could be doing much better (from a health and wellness perspective, as well as "being respected by my employer" perspective).

    Sure, at my workplace we have crunch times (in the weeks just before a major product release, for example, or during a crisis/emergency) and during those times, everyone pitches in more. I'm fortunate that we get paid for this overtime, too, but even if I didn't, I'd be willing to occasionally put in extra effort out of a sense of pride of accomplishment.

Share This Page