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Do Long Work Hours Affect Code Quality?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the unreasonable-management-expectations dept.

Programming 911

tooTired asks: "At my company the owner is heavily implying that the development staff needs to start working longer hours and weekends to shorten the time-frames on our current projects. The exact quote is 'These 8 hour days have to stop, we need to be working 15 hours a day and weekends, balls to the wall.' We are heavily under-staffed even with my multiple attempts to show the owner that we need more resources. My general feeling is that long hours is generally a symptom of poor project management, and not something to be sought after. I wanted to ask the Slashdot community their opinions on how working long hours during the week and weekends affects the quality of the code they produce, and the overall success of the project." A large reason why many in this industry find themselves working long hours and weekends is that management makes unreasonable expectations and deadlines. Are there ways of communicating to management that long hours to rush a project to completion is not the way to complete a successful project? Update: 08/30 23:11 GMT by C :Grammatical errors in title, corrected. Sorry about that.

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Eh? (2, Funny)

doublesix (590400) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173705)

Long hours seem to affect spelling.

Re:Eh? (1)

natefaerber (143261) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173722)

It has an effect on spelling, but I think it affects grammar more often.

Dave is Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173814)

"As of today, August 30, 2002, OSDN will cease operation of The decision to do so is based on a content strategy that will help OSDN provide better, more focused editorial for its readership within the high tech and developer community." - Can Someone translate this into non-PC English. It's hard to see how OSDN can succeed with anything if they couldn't do it with a site this popular.

Hmm... (3, Interesting)

Retarded Penguin (591498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173796)

Long hours dont affect code quality, employees ambition affects code quality! If its late and im working on a project (personal) that i enjoy, and im way tired, i still code fine. If its something my hearts not into it then i wont be able to work. My suggestion to employers: Pay lots for overtime and reward good coding with acess to a "special fridge" filled with energy drinks and jolt!

Yup (2)

wickedhobo (461297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173707)

Simply, no matter what business your in, you start making poor decisions when your tired. Code quality is gonna drop.

Re:Yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173851)

I am a doctor, and there is good evidence that people start to f@ck up, especially after about 10 hours.
This is why airline pilots have limited hours, and why doctors and truck drivers ought to (truck drivers here in australia are full of amphetamines)
the important point is to make sure you are paid punitive overtime rates. This makes it more economic to get more programmers, which will actually get him a better product.

yes, they affect everything (1)

zoftie (195518) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173711)

and they do accamulate too. So if you do it over long periods of time, you will be a very bad programmer.

Re:yes, they affect everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173808)

I've seen his shit code, and I can say he already is a bad programmer.

Sheesh, this is 4th grade stuff, Cliff (1, Offtopic)

belloc (37430) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173714)

Do Long Work Hours Effect Code Quality?

Ask Slashdot: Does bad spelling AFFECT code quality?

Re:Sheesh, this is 4th grade stuff, Cliff (1)

Phosphor3k (542747) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173819)

Is this what you do in your spare time? Point out other people's spelling mistakes?

It must be pathetic to be you.

Re:Sheesh, this is 4th grade stuff, Cliff (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173858)

No, he (or she) is working a 13-hour day, which means five hours nitpicking spelling on Slashdot and elsewhere in order to keep programming down to eight hours.

I don't know if they affect code quality... (3, Funny)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173715)

but they obviously affect the grammatical skills [] of the editors.

Re:I don't know if they affect code quality... (2, Funny)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173780)

MY god! I'm loosing IQ points by reading /.
Ho would have thunk it?

I think I'll coin a new phrase:

Illiterate by /.

Agreed (5, Interesting)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173716)

Humans are not machines. You simply do not up the hours that they are 'on', and it works.

Nevermind code quality - what about burnout, resentment towards management, and seeing domain knowledge go out the door when coders get sick of working 15 hour days and leave for another company?

15 hours? He's not serious, is he?

Re:Agreed (2)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173746)

Who cares about burnout? When one lot of programmers is burnt out you just hire a bunch more cannon fodder from the nearest University. The younger you pick 'em the harder you can make 'em work.

OK, I admit I don't actually approve of that point of view, but it's the attitude many companies take.

Re:Agreed (5, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173810)

Indeed, in Europe if they had you working 15 hour days, you could go home at 11am on the Thursday and not return to work until the Monday.

Why? Because the European Union protected its workers by introducing the working time directive which emans the maximum hours you can be contracted to work is 48 per week - you can work longer if you wish and agree, but no employer can force you too, and if you decide not to there's not a thing they can do. Even if later they decided not to promote you on that basis you could take action against them.

Usually I'd be cautious about such intervention, but certainly here I have to agree that it's to everyone's disadvantage being forced to work these crazy hours - I've done it myself and veryone loses - employer, employee and families.

of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173719)

anything after the first 20 minutes is generally crap.
Seriously, though, anyone telling you to put in more than 8 hour days on a regular basis must have a pretty damn big carrot waiting at the end of the tunnel. Life's just too short.

And next on Ask Slashdot! (3, Funny)

gatesh8r (182908) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173721)

"Do stellar objects really emit light?" and "Does unoptimized code really run slower?"

Re:And next on Ask Slashdot! (2)

cperciva (102828) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173786)

Does unoptimized code really run slower?

That depends if you're optimizing for speed or for size.

Re:And next on Ask Slashdot! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173832)

Don't you mean:

"Does steller objekts really emmit lite?"
"Do unoptimisd code realy run slowerly?"

Some people claim... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173724)

that they work the best in the wee hours of the night... i personally think they're wrong. Does anyone know of any studies on productivity in certain hours of the night?

Walking Papers (5, Insightful)

forkboy (8644) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173725)

If the unemployment rate isn't too bad in your area, I'd be telling them to suck your balls.

There's no excuse for an employer to consistently demand 15+ hour days and weekends. Once in a great while, when an important deadline is coming, sure it's a reasonable request, but a consistent basis? No way man...don't let yourself get trapped into that. You'll burn out and find yourself embittered against working at all. (I'm speaking from experience)

It sounds like this company is a poorly managed failing startup and probably isn't long for the world anyway. Quit while you're ahead.

What was I working on again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173726)

You can try to get people to code for 15 hours but every now and then they are just going to start to day dream and not realize what they are doing.

Degrades Quality (1)

PowerMacG4 (575064) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173727)

If anything the quality of your code is seriously degraded because of lack of sleep and time off from thinking about the project. I suggest convincing your manager that this is a very bad idea, because it will have a backfiring effect.

Also, what would happen if he lost a programmer on the team? More work hours for the other ones, meaning everyone would simply quit leaving him all alone.

Take action.

Re:Degrades Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173795)

As a fellow, overworked, under appreciated developer, I must say that working long hours does affect code quality. As an example, my team was forced to design and write a large software system in less than a month. Management was confused when the implementation of the software went less than smooth. Such overlooked (and silly) mistakes included:

- Not checking return values of fprintf() and fwrite() functions. (We often filled the disk in production and caused all hell to break loose).

- Not following any kind of coding standard between the various team members.

- Several developers on the team created the same functions that others had due to lack of time for communication and meetings.

On top of this, we were having to support a previous release of a different software package. The constant question of, "why isn't your work done, I know you were here 15 hours yesterday, " becomes quite annoying when your only response is, "too busy trying to fix what else is broken."

Long hours suck (1)

chibitoku (553688) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173734)

Its very hard to concentrate when you work long hours. I would think that you would want more people working shorter hours than fewer people working longer....

Yes, quit (1)

RealDhar (586364) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173737)

In my experience, when project management got so out of hand that we were pulling several all-nighters in a row to meet deadlines, a LOT of other things were out of whack.

I quit those places (yeah, seen it multiple times), and I couldn't be happier where I am now, with reasonable hours.


Illegal in Europe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173738)

If you work more than 30 Hours a week or 48Hrs in the UK, it is against the law, and you are protected, no matter what littergation.

In Germany companies are fined hundreds of thousands, if a company exceeds working hours.

There are ways round this, but fortunately, in the UK, there are more LAWS to protect the employee, then to protect the employer.

We all live, but we we work to live, not to work.
Thank you Churchill.

Coding decreases ... (1)

RebelTycoon (584591) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173739)

For many other reasons than lack of sleep. Lack of sunshine, asshole of a boss, no hot chicks in the office, slashdot blocked, no more Howard Stern... Sleep can be a factor, but its loosing the comfort zone, or a major change around you that is most distruptive. Every office needs one nice piece of eye candy... It makes the day go by so much better. Its like in lectures... If the prof sucks... Just stare at the hot chick... PS: If my gf is reading this.. I'm pissed... She better not become a geek...

Should be volutary (1)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173741)

I think some days when you just feel it, you should be allowed to work as long as you feel nessecary. Not be constrained by 8 hours, if you're in "the zone", you should run with it. If its just not happening for you when it comes time to clock out, go ahead and leave, rest up, and come back tomorrow. Weekends should be the same, it shouldn't be mandatory that you come in on saturday, but extra pay and a free lunch wouldn't hurt.

Yes. (2)

Renraku (518261) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173742)

Long hours do affect the quality of code you write. If you're not tired, you'd be more inclined to take the safer, slower way around rather than the faster but unsafe methods. Ever wonder why buffer overflows seem to appear in all types of software?

Earth to management... (1)

Black Jack Hyde (2374) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173743)

Are there ways of communicating to management that long hours to rush a project to completion is not the way to complete a successful project?

Only if management happens to be steeped in coding. If they're strictly bean-counting brown-nosing suits (a.k.a 99.9% of them) then no ways of communicating exist. They see deadlines and budgets, whereas the coder only sees silly little issues like writing the application so it doesn't kill 50% of life on Earth at compile time.


Sometimes it is... (1, Flamebait)

Kragg (300602) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173744)

I hate to say this, but sometimes it is the answer.

I've seen a number of projects (mainly large scale eb dev) at my company and others where unrealistic deadlines are met by long hours.

In my average 8hr day, i probably take 1/2 hour lunch, surf and check email for maybe an hour, and smoke for 1/2 an hour. That leaves 6 hours to work, with a break at least once per hour.

Of those 6 hours, at least 1, probably 2 hours will be meetings. You can kind of count that as a break.

Now, when crunch time comes and I start working 14hr days, I generally find that the ratio of work/slack stays the same. The quality of code isn't noticably affected - same #lines/hour, and about the same proportion ripped up in code review.

I do find I'm dead at the end of the day, and 1 day a week off is essential. But... if you take regular breaks and don't burn yourself up, working longer hours is good.

So, kids, the moral of the story is... if you have to work more than 10 hours a day, start smoking.

Re:Sometimes it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173857)

Don't stress yourself out too much with those 6 hours worth of work a day.

Coders VS Management... (0, Flamebait)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173747)

Lots of times, non-management people forget about the business side of a company. It may not be a matter of bad management, or anything preventable, it could just be that the boss cannot afford anybody else and that if projects aren't pumped out in a timely manner, the business will go under.

If thats the case, there is a whole other debate as to whether or not the real reason should be communicated to the people at the bottom, as their reactions can be unpredictable and sometimes hostile.

Remember to try and look at it from both sides!


Re:Coders VS Management... (3, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173794)

projects aren't pumped out in a timely manner, the business will go under

Perhaps management should listen to the developers when creating schedules and product release dates, instead of the marketers?

Re:Coders VS Management... (2)

Tim C (15259) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173824)

if projects aren't pumped out in a timely manner, the business will go under

Of course, if you piss your staff off too much, or work them too hard, they'll leave, the projects won't be pumped out in a timely manner, and the business will still go under.

15 hour days and weekends is unreasonable to the point of being a joke.

Yes code quality will suffer. Perhaps not in the short term, but in the long term, most people simply cannot keep up those sorts of hours. It quickly becomes a long, hard slog, and people become demoralised. An unhappy worker is an unproductive worker. A tired worker is an unproductive worker.

Coders need to be able to concentrate. That becomes increasingly more difficult the more tired you become. After a certain point, the code you produce will be of sufficiently poor quality that you would do better not to write it at all.

I have a family to support, and a mortgage and loans to pay, and my reaction to that would still be hostile in the extreme. I would explain, rationally, why I thought that working such a schedule was a bad idea, both personally and for the business. If and when that failed to make an impression, I'd quit. There's more to life than work, and there is always another job out there.



Just quit. (5, Informative)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173750)

Don't burn yourself out for this wanker. 8 hours a day is a totally reasonable limit for a job

Sure, sometimes coders spend a lot more time then that on their job, but that's because they enjoy it, because they want to spend that time working on code for their job.

If your boss is demanding you work 15 hours a day, quit.

Will it affect code quality? I don't really know. In the short term I doubt it, actually. Will it affect your quality of life? Absolutely. Will it affect employee satisfaction? Probably, and down the line that will affect code quality. If you don't like your job, you're code will definitely suck.

They sure affect vending machine receipts (0)

Hack Shoeboy (441994) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173752)


I think it matters (1, Insightful)

Azureash (571772) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173754)

As a developer, your opinion probably isn't going to make a difference. In my experience, some project managers will give you lip service about your input into project timelines, but in the end all that matters is what the sales/marketing person told the customer. Most of the time (and especially in times like these) the slave drivers get the most recognition from the upper management.
Is it right? Absolutely not.
Does it produce better products. Absolutely not.
But just try to explain this to a CFO who wants revenue THIS quarter.

Program Only When you are Sharp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173756)

Bottom line is this.......

Coding is not widgets and coding takes a significant amount of mental energy. Tell your boss to try and remember what it was like taking the SAT/GMAT/GRE and say you go through that mental workout every day.

If you code past your mental limit you will spend the next day fixing your bugs and not working on productive work.

For me, my best coding is from 7 Am to about noon. After 2 I stop coding and start doing other things...documentation, bug fixes, things that do not require alot of original thought.

That is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173757)

My company suggests that programmers work no more than 30 hours / week because of the code efficiency issue!


VERY VERY poor project management (1)

mozkill (58658) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173758)


if your manager has ZERO creativity and/or ZERO power over how your team does things, then he might choose to tell you to work long hours.

a creative and 'enabled' project manager could think of ways around it so that you dont need to go over 10 hours a day. for example: hire another person or a temp worker!

anytime that a team of workers has to play "catch up" with a development schedule, is a time where the project manager screwed up!!!!!!! come on people! a project manager should take responsibility for not overworking his staff, or he should not go outside of the reasonable expectations that he gave his/her team.

Quit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173761)

Sure, job markets may be tough sometimes, but your mental and physical health if MORE IMPORTANT than ANY JOB. QUIT.

Encourage your coworkers to QUIT.

Your employers will get the message. If they actually value you, they may offer to re-hire you.

If they beg for you to come back, make sure they back off on the demands or at least give you BUCKETS and BUCKETS of money!

Prediction: you will get fired (5, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173763)

Executives don't like reality. They are all about wish fulfillment. When your project(s) are not completed by their deadlines, you will be fired. You will be the one who has to pay, because you were the one repeatedly pointing out that you needed more resources, given the requirements and deadlines. You contradicted your executive's worldview. In any competition between reality and an executive's world-view, the executive wins, in the short term. Reality always wins in the long term.

Good Resource (5, Informative)

philovivero (321158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173764)

Most of the arguments you'll see in this discussion have their start in Extreme Programming.

Here's a good reference: Forty Hour Week [] on, which seems to be the best web authority for Extreme Programming discussions and patterns.

Give it a gander.

tell him... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173766)

tell him to work the same hours you do.
That usually works.

If that doesn't talk to him about overtime pay, and how some states require it.

And if neither of those work, then start a programmers union.

Burn 'em up & spit 'em out (1)

hindsight2020 (567338) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173768)

After sustained periods of such hours, the programmers will get burned out, lose all motivation, and eventually will find themselves working somewhere else because for some reason the don't produce any more...unless you start taking Prozac. You're being used as an expendable resource. Get out of there.

That's nuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173769)

For one - your boss is gonna have to pay you some pretty sick overtime. It would make more sense to hire more programmers (even if they are just temps) to throw at the project. It would probably be cheaper that way.

Re:That's nuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173837)

Hahahahahahahaha. Overtime? That's funny. Let me guess: you've never had a non-contract job; you're not from the US; or you work at Starbucks.

Of course it hurts quality (2)

vanguard (102038) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173770)

If you want high quality software you need solid processes, smart analysts, and mature programmers. That's how NASA does it. []

What you boss wants is cheap software. He wants a few people to stay all night and write it quickly. You can make a play that cheap software is only cheap in the short run. You can explain that the reduced customer sastisfaction and maintanence costs will prove that doing it right the first time is a better idea.

However, I'm guessing it won't work. Your boss probably knows what he's getting and he wants it.


Re:Of course it hurts quality (1)

blender98 (258057) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173844)

If you want high quality software you need solid processes, smart analysts, and mature programmers. That's how NASA does it.

You forgot to mention calculators that convert between metric and imperial units.

A good basis to an interesting Study (1)

Sibshops (304882) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173773)

A good way to find out if the number of hours relates to performance is to do a small "lines of code"/hour test.

It is not totally accurate of performance but it would be nice to see.

stress factor (0)

mclaren_1010 (541130) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173774)

I"m not a programmer, i'm draw on computers. Graphic design is something similiar to programming. When i start rushing my jobs i miss key things, overprint, trapping, SPELLING etc etc. I tell my boss, listen.. you want me to rush a job and have me make these mistakes and then it comes back up here and i have to correct it having more stress on me and you. why dont you just let me take my time and do it right! managment doesn't listen. they think that we can get it out lickady split.. of coarse we can, but do you want half ass work? when i see work come up here i dont want ot see it again until its approved.. if i see a job come back up more then twice and get bitched about it, i throw it back and say, give me more time then.

thanks, had to release that

Just... (1)

wa1rus (605203) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173778)

..demand that Jolt Cola can be considered a business expense and you'll be fine :)

Long hours suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173782)

Back when I was in games, I worked the last four months of the project everyday for ~12-14 hours/day. by the time the game went gold, I didn't give a fsck if the playtesters found a bug, if they fired me, or even if my short hairs were on fire. It took me more than a month to really recover and become productive again. I'd say that my company did not get their money's worth once that recovery month was factored in. I also knew that I would never, ever do that again. A few months later, when the company was shut down by it's parent, I left the game industry for ever. I'm much happier now.

yes (1)

tps12 (105590) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173783)

There definitely are ways of communicating that long hours don't help meet deadlines. Work normal hours and beat the deadlines. Meanwhile, start circulating your rsume.

There is no excuse in this modern day and age that workers in any industry should feel compelled to work Industrial Revolution hours. This is one step away from slavery, and your manager should be ashamed. Of course, it's happened before. It happened during the 20's in the breakfast cereals industry, during the 30's in the preserved wood furniture industry, and even in modern times on the sets of Hollywood films like the latest Star Wars prequels. It's a throwback to less progressive times, and should be fought tooth and nail. This is a great example of why coders and technology workers would benefit from unionization. We programmers are not professionals, we are laborers. And we deserve the same protection afforded laborers in other industries.

Get a new job. . . (5, Insightful)

AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173784)

I hate to say it but


I mean good lord man, you're telling me every symptom of every business that I've seen go under locally. The whole "balls to the walls" syndrome is often more of a "we're cutting budgets that we really shouldn't" syndrome. I fully expect that you'll find that the same managers that are willing to have YOU (not them) put in 15 hour days are also the ones willing to say "sure we can do X+Y at the budget for just X" to his higher ups just to look better.

Re:Get a new job. . . (2)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173855)

At K&S they demanded my dad work manditory overtime for a robotics project. They laid the entire staff off at the completion of the project.

2 good friends of mine programmed for a local game firm. They worked manditory overtime and were laid off at the end of the project.

Spend The Time Wisely (5, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173788)

While, short term, it can work, it sounds as if the owner thinks this is the way to simply work from now on, regardless. That being the case, he really is demonstrating massive failings as a workforce manager. Even if you guys ship the next product or two early, and keep the company afloat for a few more months, in time the moral effect, the exhaustion and all the rest will kick in and he'll be getting worse, not better, productivity. If he's really making those kinds of shortsighted decisions, and he's the owner, the company is going to sink one way or another anyway - it just might eek out a few more months at the expense of a bunch of burnt out programmers.

My advice would be to use those seven extra hours in front of a PC to tidy up your resume and get it out there. You are going to be looking for a job soon enough, you might as well get the headstart.

Ask yourself, how many dotcom tales of people agreeing to work without pay for a while; work long hours; all the rest of it, you've heard. Now, how many of those companies actually survived by doing that? Next to none?

ambition and reality (1)

geddard (602755) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173790)

Long hours affect motivation more as you slog through code. It hits home harder as you work on a project that you feel is unique, at 3.23am when a mail from a trusted friends arrives, informing you of a discovered project that has been completed and addresses the same space and niche you've been running against time and resources to complete. The motivation begins to deflate, as thoughts abound on how much you've sunked in, as the remnants of your ambition races to evolve the project. The belief that it'll soon complete is erased, and the paradox of thinking that you were alone in the niche. The fear of being misunderstood now vanished, as you know someone else out there understands the work you have done, but has achieved what you are still striving... ... Life always finds a way...

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173791)

Does that answer your question?

Usually 8==8 and 12==8 (1)

csimoes (530169) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173792)

Every software company I have worked at claims that a 50 hour work week is the norm. However, what I always find is that I am never actaully "working" for even close to that. A lot of the day is spent socializing with friends, longer lunches, and more web surfing. Management needs to wise up to the fact that just because people are at work for longer hours does not mean you always get more work out of them. Longer hours usually just equal less productivity in my experience.

Yet another case of f*cked-up labour laws in the U (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173797)

Nuff said. Sorry guys. But I wish I can do more.

Write your congressmen! Oh, wait, they are paid by the corporations that hired you. Sorry, dude. You are fcuked.

Some good some bad (2)

topham (32406) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173798)

Sometimes putting in the extra work is worth it; but, if the end of the project is a long way off, DONT.

If you put in the extra hours now, will it reduce the extra hours later? Again, if so, fine, otherwise, NO.

Why? Because if the project manager gets it in his head he can have 80hr weeks out of everyone he will plan them that way. It is very easy to become burned out and few managers know how to properly handle it to prevent that.

They see you as a "Resource" not a "Human Being" (1)

cutecub (136606) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173799)

You're living in a Dilbert cartoon. Get to the escape pod, quick!

Devils Advocate (2)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173800)

Are there ways of communicating to management that long hours to rush a project to completion is not the way to complete a successful project?

What about the many stories of caffiene-addled coders working 36 hours at a time, and sleeping under their desks, coding under pressure to get the job done on time? See here [] for a good one.

I mean yeah, most normal people want to work 8 hours a day. But others want to be supermen, and are willing to put in long, long hours of work to beat the competition.

Get out while you can (5, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173801)

Every project that goes down that path ends with the development team being laid off.

Don't walk away from this situation, run.

I am not owned by a company. (3, Interesting)

antis0c (133550) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173804)

You're damn right it affects coding quality, and work quality. How can I be expected to work well, with a clean mind and plan if I no longer have my own personal life.

These 8 hour days have to stop, we need to be working 15 hours a day and weekends, balls to the wall.

The company doesn't own me. Period. If I heard that statement from my boss, I'd be in my car and on my way home before she had a chance to even blink at me. Despite I do frequent Slashdot, I have a life outside work. When I get hired by X company, I didn't sign on so I could spend my every waking hour and moment working for that company. Any manager who doesn't realize an employee has a life outside the company isn't qualified to manage employees. Period. ..8 hours day have to stop.. BULLSHIT. Period.

There are projects and there are emergencies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173805)

I manage engineers. I've been an engineer. It's hard when you don't have the headcount you need. It takes alot of communication and socialization on a manager's part to have the process for booking resources institutionalized along with the process for trading projects and features with your customers (internal and external). You have to be able to say here's what we're all doing, it's exactly according to the plan we presented you at the beginning of the quarter and which you agreed to. If you want us to do something else, that's fine but you pick what we drop from our project schedule. The time to communicate and educate the organization about why it's bad to purposely put people in high workload situations is not when they want are asking you to take on a high workload. You engender this knowlege during a non-panic time and around actual failure cases. Also, when upper management walks through the engineer area and sees every out (for whatever reason) and say's it 'feels' like people aren't working hard, there must be 2 responses: First, I don't manage based on 'feelings', I manage based on facts. Let's talk about what you think is not getting done and we can address concrete issues. Second (and reserve this on a case/case basis), if upper management is walking through wondering why few people are in their cube, it may be proper to respond: "they're probably out interviewing".

Too many variables (1)

pvera (250260) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173806)

1. What kind of project?
Remember, 9 women cannot make a baby in one month.
2. What kind of platform/technology/etc?
Some coders have an affinity for a certain technology.
3. What percenteage of the hours is spent on coding and not in status meetings?
If your coders are forced to do 15-hr marathons because they are spending 2-3 hrs a day on BS meetings, then you have a problem.
4. What kind of coder?
There are some programmers that get into the zone big time, and they will crank code out for 10-15 hours (I used to do that back in the day, now my thresold is about 5 hours in a row) on cigarrettes, pizza and soda.
5. How is the work setup?
I spent 9 months on a project that averaged 10-12 hours a day including weekends. What made it bearable? I had a TV card and digital cable fed into it. I would dial it up to Discovery channel and code away. The soothing voice of the documentary narrators kept me going for hours.
Later I got promoted and got an office on the executive wing. That was a disaster! Now at my new job I have a setup similar to the one I have in my home office and sometimes I don't feel tired until I have hit the 10 hour mark (voluntarily by the way, which makes a hell of a difference).

Still, if you don't like the long hours, then leave. All that BS about the tough job market is not valid anymore. As bad as things are in DC Metro area I landed a job with same pay and 1/10th of the stress within a week of activating my Monster profile.

35 hours work-week ... (1)

quax (19371) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173811)

... is standard at the largest privately held software company, since the company was founded over 25 years ago.

Disclaimer: I work for this company but I am based in Germany, and ironically enough the (trade union enforced) standard work-week here is 37.5 hours.

When relocating back to Germany I would have never expected to work longer hours than my American colleagues (still have much more holidays though).

The founder and CEO of my company always claimed that long work hours adversely affect the quality of the code, and that a 35 hour weeks for programmers makes perfect business sense. I think he is right.

Being a college student.... (1)

yak_7 (318403) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173815)

Being a college student, and constantly staying up for 30+, I have a little experience here. I find that being awake and concentrating on a subject can be easily achieved for 20+ hours straight, the only problem being that the body demands rest afterwards. I remember reading an article before of what the natural sleep cycle would be if the sun were not present, and I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that a person would be awake for a significantly longer period than 20 hours... followed by a sleep of much longer than 8 hours. Working 15 hours a day every other day would be ok, but if you did it everyday it would kill you after a long time. Personally, I wouldn't mind working 20 hour shifts every two days.... and I don't see this as a bad alternative to regular hours.... except perhaps for emergency physicians and the such...


It makes a big difference (0)

Zanek (546281) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173816)

I'd suggest you show your boss the results of various studies on lack of sleep and overworking (such as here [] )
Its not only detrimental to you, its bad for the company because you can introduce lots of mistakes into your code when your overworked
Your boss just has to see the downside to a overworked employee, and how it'll effect him (ie: poor code comes back to bite him).
I know many of the times I've pulled 18 hour coding binges, I've ended up doing more damage than good.

Long hours... (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173817)

are mostly a myth. I have got the feeling that the ones who spends 14 or so hours per day do not actually WORK for more than maybe 2 * 3 hours seriously. Many people have their lives at work. In some cases this works and in some cases not, atleast it requires strong self-discipline to keep the "playing hours" in control.

How it affects code quality - don't know. In my case, if I work for around 3 days for around 19 hours and WORK seriously most of the time, that might work, but after that there is a steep decline in quality and productivity. If I HANG AROUND at work for the same amount of hours per day, I can do it for weeks.

So, I don't have an answer, but I quess it depends strongly about whether you need to concentrate on what you are doing a lot or not.

One engineer == 40hrs/week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173818)

I read an interesting editorial several months ago that argued that demanding that employees (of any kind) work overtime all the time is the same as over-commiting any kind of resource (assembly line capacity, electrical system capacity, etc).

The one difference between human beings and most other limited resources is that, when required, they can put forth extraordinary effort. Many a deadline has been met successfully with such effort at the end. But when management starts to require extraordinary effort all the time, it is time to split. The company is clearly managed and is probably doomed to fail

"... all I ask for is that everyone work at least" (1)

JMZorko (150414) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173822)

"... half a day. Is that too much to ask?"

-- an actual quote (made partly, but not totally in jest, i'm sure) by our CEO, in which he suggested that, a day being 24 hours, a half day would be 12. Yeah -- we thought it was funny, too :-)

Regards, John

Falling You [] -- exploring the beauty of voice and sound

Quid pro quo (2)

mike_the_kid (58164) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173823)

If they want 15 hour days, and they say you need to go "balls to the wall", then that just means that their balls are right up against the wall. These guys probably have a lot more to lose than you. Apply a little pressure, see what happens. Rally the other engineers together. And don't do the long hours unless there are serious bonuses or prospects of equity (and the equity has the potential to be worth something).

Above all else, remember, you can't do this forever, 15 hour days don't mean twice the productivity.

I heard a story about someone on deck at a big 5 consulting firm. They worked 100+ hour weeks and all to make partner, and eventually worked until a lot of the systems in their body up and quit. Just overstressed for so long, everything started to shut down at once. Went way over the million dollar lifetime healthcare cap (the firm has to pick up all future medical bills.) The guy made partner and recovered but became a medical case study.

You Can't Fool The Computer (1)

Fuseboy (414663) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173825)

As Feynman might have said, the managers can fool themselves, but nobody can fool the computer. If you're too tired to do the project properly, it's going to be pretty obvious sooner or later.

The problem is that it's usually later. Without good visibility into the project's progress, it's really tempting to do unhelpful things (getting the staff to work very long hours, adding more programmers near the end).

This is one of the reasons that I /really/ like iterative development. When you get stuck with an unrealistic schedule, it's pretty obvious when it takes you three weeks to pull off what was supposed to take two.

You may wind up doing hellish overtime earlier in the project, but at least it will be plain enough whether that works before too long. What your management does next tells you whether you should be working there.


Cheap - Fast - Good. Pick any 2. (1)

JosefWells (17775) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173826)

Cheap - Fast - Good. Pick any 2.

Give that choice to management and explain it.

You can do a project with one or two of those criteria.

Cheap (cost of development)
Fast (Time to finish project)
Good (Quality product)

Of course you can't typically change plans mid-project. If you decide you want it good and cheap, then latter decide fast and good, you are in trouble.. adding people to a late project only makes it later.

If management doesn't understand this, find a management team that does.

All I want to say is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173827)

More hours == give more more fucking money.

If I'm spending all my time on you, you must give me enough so that on that rare Tuesday night, I can relax in my bomb ass pad, which I drive to in my 75 thousand car.

I'm tired of my '99 BMW 525 anyway.

QUIT! (2)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173833)

If you enjoy the work then work as hard as you want.

What I would do is not make a big deal of it but make sure you do your 8 hours and go home. If anyone tells you to do more hours tell them politely no. All the time look for another job.

I assume the owner is the first to arrive and the last to leave?

Definition (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173834)

Manager definition of successful:
Complete. Within Budget. Within Time Frame.

Programmer definition of successful:
Efficient Code. Easy to use. Simple to understand. A well rounded product to be proud of.

you're in the wrong place/country/job (1)

norite (552330) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173836)

Here in Europe, we have laws to protect against worker exploitation - You CANNOT be made to work more than 48 hours per week if you don't want to. Emphasis is switching towards a 37 hour week (that's how many hours I work), even 35 hour week in some parts of the European Union. 15 hours per day? That's 75 hours per week. Sounds like you work in a sweat shop in some poor, underdeveloped county.

Funny, you should mention this... (1)

asdfasdfasdfasdf (211581) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173838)

As I type this, I'm sitting at my office, 7pm EST, and all the rest of the employees went home hours ago. They were sent home early on the three day weekend. I will work all three days of the weekend, hoping upon hope I can afford to work "only" 5-6 hours on Sunday. I am working on what could be the largest project of my life, which has a hard (initial) deadline of mid-september.

I'm starting to go insane. Literally. I've lost touch with reality. I have a 4 month old son I rarely see. I go straight from the bed to the office to the bed. Sure, we could have started this project 6 months ago, but instead we started 6 weeks ago, because our client couldn't get their act together. And so, I work 75-80 hour work weeks to make sure there's a remote possibility this project will make its deadline.

80 hour workweeks provide more throughput than 40, no doubt, but it's definitely diminishing retuns. I can tell you that around the 11th or 12th work-hour of the day, I'm absolutely useless, but I must keep plugging on, even if it takes me 4 times as long to do something. When I worked 15 hours the night before, I am catatonic at my desk the next morning. But, the job will get done, and it will get done well. Sure, balls-to-the-wall is energizing at first. My first two 70-hour workweeks were no-doubt some of the most efficient of my life-- but now I've lost touch with reality. I can't tell you what day it is unless I look at my computer's clock! (Seriously.)

I work a salary. Every hour I stay past 40, my hourly wage plummets. The boss promised me a 2% bonus of the billing, but if I do the math, that will work out to a bonus smaller than minimum wage. (with no overtime of course)

The net effect is that when this project is done, I will be looking for other work. So make sure and point that out to your bosses. If they can't afford high-turnover, they can't afford 60+ hour workweeks.

Long hours... (3, Interesting)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173839)

I've managed a number of development teams over the years. Here are some of my thoughts. Flame away if you want.

Sometimes, there are days/weeks where it is neccessary for the team to put in some unreasonably long hours in order to get the project done. Especially during the time immediately before a release/launch.

That said, when I ask my staff to put in long hours, I'm there with them. If the team doesn't need "management", I roll up my sleeves and do whatever needs to be done whether that is coding, infrastructure work, or being an HTML monkey.

I don't think it is reasonable to ask for that sort of performance on an ongoing basis or for an extended period of time. It is very draining.

I also think it is very important for both myself and the organization to show it's appreciation for the people who make these sort of sacrifices for the company. This includes:

When people are running late, pay for the pizza. Look for other ways to be considerate.

Have some sort of launch festivities. Celebrate your success. Publicly acknowledge (preferably -- not just within IT) the people who made it happen.

I think that if management and the company treats its employees reasonably well, that the techies should be willing to work their assess off and burn the candle at both ends when needed.

It all depends... (1)

twalk (551836) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173840)

Normal programmers can sustain 55 hour weeks for quite a while without serious problems. Over that, and they start dropping in code quality (but not quantity) pretty fast.

Some programmers with aspergers can literally do 90+ hour weeks on end without any real drop.

And then there are idiot managers who belive that 15 hour/day "sprints" can be sustained for years...

Added to those are the truely evil managers who force 15 hour/day working times because they know that when you burn out they can replace you easily right now...

Idiot managers won't start to believe you until they have a few failures. Evil ones will make examples of those who speak out. If you have one of these, it's time to polish up the old resume.

That reminds me..... (1)

Yuan-Lung (582630) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173841)

Back when I was coding for a dot com company, the owner and manager there held pride in getting 100~200 hours PER WEEK from each of us.

The result? The dev team quickly lost precious health. The project leader ended up in hospital.

The quality of our code went straight down to hell since we got so exhausted and disgruntaled.

The management ignored our request for a more resonable work hour, and kept promising the clients quick product developement and giving us impossible deadlines.

The owner kept buying these flashy and expansive toys while telling us that his short on fund to buy us tools or hire more much needed helps. After he said the same about the bonus he promised us, the entire dev team quit.

From my own experience, if you pull to much overtime, most of that time is going to be debugging and fixing the stupid mistakes you make because you are dead tired.

Long House = Bad Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173845)

There are always exceptions, but generally long hours, especially long *involuntary* hours equates to bad code.

I've never had problems where there was the occasional long day or even overnighter in the immediate runup to a deadline. When it becomes the norm, there's something wrong in the company that just working longer hours won't fix.

When I hear management utter phrases like "15 hours a day, balls to the wall" and similar bullshit, I start looking for another job or, if it's really bad and the unemployment situation is OK, just quit on the spot. That sort of management attitude either means you're on a sinking ship or one where the captain's lost touch with reality. Let *them* put their "balls to the wall" for a change, most of them probably assume it's golf terminology.

1 hour of your own life/dy...use it wisely (1)

ejaw5 (570071) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173846)

If you have to work 15 hrs/day, then sleep 8hrs/day, that only leaves you with 1 hour of the day for yourself, whether with family, wife/girlfriend, LAN party, etc, etc.

I guess this really becomes a case where your work has taken over all other aspects of your life.

Of course it does (2)

actappan (144541) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173847)

Of course long hours degrade code quality. When you have to trade in the Dew for serious, non-carbonated amphetimines in order to meet a deadline - something's gonna suffer.

No - really.

Anyway, my company recently changed our development style to take some pressure off the engineering staff. Whereas previously, 14 hour days were somewhat the norm, those have now been seriously reduced. Those with famlilies actualy get to see them. Those without, get to play Final Fantasy X until 4 AM. Overall, moral is better, and there's not been a signifigant change in output - and the quality is improving.

The best option... (3, Informative)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173848)

The best option, if you can afford it, is to quit and get a better job working for sane people. Sometimes, you'll need to put in a 15 hour day. It's unfortunate, but deadlines happen. But to be expected to put in 15 hour days EVERYDAY is absurd and insulting. You have a life outside of work, you need sleep, and you have rights under the law.

Back on topic, working 15 hour days WILL affect your code quality, not to mention your quality of life. Different people have different ways in which they work best, and sometimes a long coding session can work wonderfully, but over the long term it will result in frazzled nerves and bad code.

If he's expecting you to work 15 hour days, you need to let him know you should have twice as many people working 8 hour days instead. If he protests, drop that job like a bad habit. You'll only be hurting your health and sanity if you stay.

Awwww, poor baby. (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173849)

15 hours a day, huh? Sounds 'bout right. Only spending 8 hrs a day playing quake and reading slashdor? So how'd ya like to be Joe Whopper Flopper for those 8 hours? Aren't you even slightly grateful to have a job? You're probably not in high tech, and definitely not in the disk drive biz. I suggest you scale back your work week to something your delicate constitution can handle. Screw the profit-sharing, let's go snow boarding.

Ive bin wrkin for 91hrz strayt!!! (1)

tony_ratboy (228844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173850)

and thre aint nouthibn wrng wuith my cde!

Bullocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4173853)

Any manager requesting such work hours should be dashed about the head and shoulders with a copy of "The Mythical Man Month" and then forced to read it.

Uhm. (1)

xenoweeno (246136) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173854)

'These 8 hour days have to stop, we need to be working 15 hours a day and weekends, ...

Reasons To Quit Your Job for $1000, Alex.

Fire the testers! (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173859)

You should point out to management that if they fire the whole QA department, they can reduce their headcount AND get the products out the door faster. ;-)

Well... (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173860)

You can always do what I did. Resign. :-)

But on the other hand, the situation might be just as bad at your new job. (If you get one, that is. ;-)

It does AFFECT the code I write on the day after (1)

Koyaanisqatsi (581196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173861)

I don't do it very often, but sometimes it's ok to work long hours, specially if you're excited about the project. Given enough (but not too much) caffeine, it won't affect the code I'm writing at the moment.

However, I found out that every time I do that I feel like trash on the day after, and that day I usually write shitty code as a result. Not deliberately bad code, but it's just that on these days I'm not capable of brilliant insights, so I tend to stay on more bureaucratic code.

Oh well, that's how I react to it at least ...

Sometimes long hours are just fine (2)

gwernol (167574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4173863)

My experience, after more than 6 years working in Silicon Valley, is that sustained periods of long hours can be damaging. But short bursts to hit a specific project goal can be a good thing. Programming - when done well - requires huge concentration. You have to focus hard on the code. Once you're in the swing of it, you don't want to be interupted. That's why the culture of long and eccentric hours has grown up - its the way good engineers usually work.

As a rule I figure you can sustain two or maybe three major bursts of 100 hours a week. Each burst shouldn't last more than 5 weeks. I once did a ten week burst and it nearly killed me. Once you go over 5 weeks, you'll get into serious counter-productivity.

Its also important to have a good reason to do so. If your company doesn't have the cash or revenue to hire more people and needs you to put in the hours to get a revolutionary new product out, that's one thing. If its poor planning or management that causes the crisis, it will be much harder to motivate people to put in long hours.
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