What Research Says About Working Long Hours

90 HRS/WK AND LOVING IT!Via DevOpsAngle:

Facebook COO Sharyl Sandberg has kicked up a mini-controversy by admitting to Makers.com that she leaves the office at 5:30PM every day, and has done so for years. In the Valley, where work is a religion, leaving early is heresy.

Earlier this week “Jon” published The 501 Developer Manifesto, a call for developers to spend less time working.These calls for less time at the office are counter balanced by a recent talk by Google executive Marissa Mayer at an 92|Y event. Mayer dismissed the phenomena of “burn out” as resentment and boasted of working 130 hours a week at times.

Research suggests that Sandberg is probably the more productive executive, and those 501ers may be on to something. In a lengthy essay titled “Bring back the 40-hour work week,” Alternet editor Sara Robinson looks at the history of long working hours and reminds us why the 40 hour limit was imposed in the first place: working more than 40 hours a week has been shown to be counterproductive. It’s a relevant conversation for IT workers, who according to ComputerWorld average 71 hours of work per week.

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25 Comments on "What Research Says About Working Long Hours"

  1. If you are working 130 hours a week, that probably means you either aren’t very good at your job, or you aren’t doing much “work” per hour.  Maybe an over-generalization, but maybe not.

    • It could also mean that there is not enough total staff to handle the amount of work that needs to be done. This would result in the need for certain people to have to work more hours to account for the work that isn’t being completed in a 40 hour work week. By assuming that the overtime is a reflection of bad/lazy workers is overlooking that it may be staff utilization or understaffing that is the problem which points to problems in overall company management.

      •  Here!  Here!  I work extra hours due to combination of very poor technical support (costs me several FTE) that I shouldn’t have to ask for and constant pressure to squeeze more work and faster out of undertrained staff (no training time, no training program) and a viscious cycle of appalling turnover.  There’s so much focus on the monthly results that there is no consideration of long-term consequences.  Greedy, incompetent asshole executives. 

        • maybe you should be part of the turned over folks. nothing like saying “fuck off” to assholes. have more trust in the universe and in yourself. now if you like what you do, stop complaining and get back to work

  2. Rickenbacker4001 | Apr 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

    There is no way that I would spend that much time on something , unless I really really enjoyed it. Those figures above leave about 5 hours a day for sleeping, and not much else. No wonder lots of these places have cots to sleep on. No way Jose.

  3. These workaholics are the reason the unemployment rate is so high.

  4. Liam_McGonagle | Apr 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

    Why do they never ask the executives’ wives THEIR opinions on this?  I’m sure they’d love to see their hubbies rack up the hours in the office.

    One of my boss’ ex-wives certainly did.  Gave her more time to spend schtupping the Mexican gardener with the “man” of the house gone.  Now they’re divorced and she got 1/2 of the whole works.  Turned out to be an excellent deal–for her.

  5. i can speak from personal experience working in the IT sector.
    i would spend 8-9 hrs a day in the office, compared to the other schmucks who seemed to live there. but i was actually productive for the majority of those hours, while the other bozos spent time socialising, gossiping, surfing the web and and getting stewed at hour long lunches.
    the result? numerous confrontations with smug managers who questioned my work ethic and commitment to “the company”, with thinly veiled threats to my continued employment. it didn’t help when i pointed out my measurably higher productivity (my projects were on or ahead of time, virtually unheard of in software development, more maintainable, fewer bugs etc. etc.)
    unfortunately, having the personality type that i do and most of my managers being petty little sociopaths with a napoleon complex, this led to some quite “unsavoury” confrontations i.e. me threatening the nastiest of these characters with physical violence (i accept that that is my own issue).

    so i dropped out of the “rat-race” and now live in border-line financial poverty as a freelance computer technician… but, despite the hardship, i feel a profound sense of freedom and my anxiety levels have dropped amazingly. as an added bonus, i’ve reconnected with my community by offering my services without charge to those who can’t afford it, i’ve learnt to cook cheap, simple, healthy, wholesome food and to generally lead a simpler and more “philosophical” existence. i have time to read books, research history, politics, philosophy, economics… and maybe that’s what “they” are afraid of. that we’d have enough time to enlighten ourselves and realise that a big red, white and blue dick is being jammed up our arses. that’s one reason so many movements for social change originate amongst student groups, because they are free from the imposed economic imperative to pay mortgages/bills/buy shit to display status.

    then again, i may be completely full of shit and reading way too much into this..

  6. Rush Hour | Apr 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

    thank God the visionaries at Alternet know better than me how much overtime I should work to pay off my mortage early. 

  7. InfiltratedSlacker | Apr 19, 2012 at 9:21 pm |

    I have to agree with Mayer.  When I work on stuff I love doing, there is no 8 hour workday, I no longer care about the hours, I just work whenever possible.  When I work on boring shit to pay the rent, then no, I can’t do more than 3 hours at a time.  Meaning, after 3 hours of doing stupid retarded crap, I just zone out and fuck around, boss be damned.  When I have recovered from the pointlessness of it all, maybe another 2 hours.  Day over.

    • The trouble is, whether you like working on it or not, as far anyone can tell your performance decreases and the odds of making stupid mistakes increases as you work more hours.

  8. Having a job and working 40 hours is even more unproductive.
    It’s amazing how 19th & 20th century modes of being are still widely excepted as normal.


    • Jin The Ninja | Apr 20, 2012 at 5:07 am |

       we’re so backwards, but we think we’re forward. it’s the paradox of ‘post-modernity.’

      • a lot of modern people have retreated into numbness
        & reliving bygone eras as a means of escape

        probably 90% of all office jobs no longer require attendence at an “office”
        proably 90% of all higher education doesn’t need a campus
        most 8 hour days work can be done in much, especially without travel

        Steve Jobs,
        who integrated the telegraph with the televsion,
        built a 19th century factory “office building”
        to commorate his 19/20th centuray acheivements.

  9. We should all consider what little choice we have in these matters.  We are largely controlled by our jobs.  Not the other way around.  

    • My hope is to build awareness among employers that working such long hours is actually bad for productivity and performance. It’s no secret that I’m a lefty, but it turns out that the bumper sticker about organized labor bringing us the 40 hour week and the weekend may be more myth than reality – or at least only part of the story. The bosses went along with it because the workers were more productive.

      • don’t kid yourself, employers went along with better working conditions because they had no choice. organised labour (before its leadership was corrupted by money) was a positive force in the lives of working people throughout the world. not just pay and conditions, but education, health care, pensions, social services.. these were more often that not won with actual blood spilled.
        the only awarenes that needs to be built amongst employers is that they get their shit together or they’ll be out of business. there is nothing exceptional about the “captains” of industry. just as a line worker can be replaced, so can a manager or CEO. there’s a line around the block of perfectly capable canditates for their jobs as well.
        globalisation has allowed them to flee offshore with their nasty, parasitic brand of capitalism. but there is a remedy for that as well. they’re called tarriffs.. and despite the propaganda surrounding tarriffs, the major industrialised and industrialising nations of the world have used trade barriers of one kind or another to foster and protect local industry and jobs. if you have to pay 30 cents more on a loaf of bread, well, not to put too fine a point on it… tough shit.

        • No disagreement here about the overall importance of the labor movement, but the 40 hour work week actually predates the labor movement (unless you count older trade guilds) and was reinforced by management theory quite independent of the labor movement.

    • Eric_D_Read | Apr 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

      Speak for yourself, lady. 

    • Seems like someone wants to be loved by everyone at work, and receive a pat on the back once in a while. Just watch out, sometimes that pat is the needle that breaks the camels back. There are levels of awareness and until you reach a higher level, it will seem like you are controlled. The world is huge,     and you have not even began to see everything that is possible. There is secret information that is not easy to find unless you passionately seek or in rare cases happen to be fortunate enough to stumble upon.  With a little bit of courage and confidence, you can disconnect from the main frame and become a beacon of light instead of a black hole of obvious easy to learn but hard to master conformity.

  10. Not like I have much of a choice. My bills aren’t going to pay themselves. :

    • Omg I’m poor! The key is to live a life you can afford, instead of trying to cram every  god damn commodity you see while window shopping or on tv into your…   Success is a mind set and if your bills are getting paid, than you are working the right amount of time for the things you feel you need. You know who has no choice? Handicapped people and dead people. Its all a  mind set and chronic dissatisfaction is what usually causes someone to bring out this emoticon :/. Now if you are working a  lot and still don’t have enough, then you got a problem. Some people always seem to want a savior instead of taking a calculated risk. Sorry but my personal Jesus service is severely overbooked. The article is not talking about not working at all, its talking about working the proper amount of hours to maintain a healthy life style that allows you to truly enjoy the spoils of your personal war with labor. Extremes are the enemy here, not the great work. If you are in an extreme situation you need to work to the extreme to what? That’s right, to get out of it, not to continue in the same zombie like state of buy, use, throw away, and repeat.  Make sure your are getting billed for things that have value (personal value) because things that truly have value to you end up paying back dividends and making you profits, either in personal satisfaction and at times cold hard cash (its magickal how it works) . But if you are just slaving away just to keep up with the Joneses,  your possessions will just become a money pit that you will never truly afford and they will be the end of you, as no one lives unfulfilled for long.  So don’t state the god damn negative obvious as if the audience here is dumb, the article is trying to bring up the fact the you do have a choice, and its starts with you contemplating your ideals, if you always think the resistance is futile, it will always be and deep down that’s what your passive self wants… A little bit of confidence goes a long way, and confidence is being brave in the face of the unknown and uncertain. You can fail going after your dreams or  fail being kindling for someone elses dreams. But going after what you want, there is a chance you might just get it, and just staying the same and scared, lacks the chance of any glory, any true success. Everything takes effort, even to become a bum or a killer takes effort. The question is  what are you working towards? (and most people that constantly complain with out action are being ignorant towards that question). You can stay in ignorance, working against yourself, or…or  have the courage to take calculated risks, becoming a shinning star and working towards a glorious future of your own making. The world is large, even if your seems narrow, there is room for everyone. Sometimes a few key moves opens doors to possibilities never imagined . Have  the guts and fight against human mediocrity when ever you have the energy, and remember to smile, everyone loves a smile.

      Nothing personal, I just didn’t expect this type of response from a reader of this type of  ALTERNATIVE news.

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