The Battle for Proper Working Hours

For many developers, the normal 9 - 5 shift does not really apply. Development is a creative job, and you cannot force more creativity from more hours.

For many developers, the normal 9 - 5 shift does not really apply. Development is a creative job, and you cannot force more creativity from more hours. Management seldom understand this and it can be difficult to articulate the point to a non-technically-minded or non-creative-minded manager. Management are usually not open to offering flexible work time too, and if they are, it is usually within very rigid parameters: “Must be in 9:00 - 17:00, or 8:30 - 16:30”, which is not very flexible.

Real flexibility comes in when you are given an amount of work to complete, and a deadline to complete it by. The amount of hours you work to achieve that deadline is irrelevant. While this is the complete opposite end of the scale to rigidly set, long hours, it is how intelligent, salaried, well behaved employees should be treated by any goal oriented company (results rather than throughput).

As for the hours, management cannot expect to force extra creativity from an employee that has used up their creativity for the day, for whatever reason it has been used up. If i was to come into the office and spend 2 solid hours coming up with the best work of my life, a manager would expect me to continue down that road for another 6 hours, but I, and many others know, it is not physically or mentally possible. It is exhausting while it is happening, but, that vein of gold is there for the taking, once the vein is used up, its gone.

Therefore the concept of 40 hours, or 37.5 hours or even 35 hours does not work, especially in the tech industry in the modern era. I, and many other developers, can get a job specified as a 5 day job, done in 2 days if we were capable as humans to do this, but, the job takes 5, or 6 or 8 days, because it is not possible to ever work at 100% capacity, never mind for any amount of time.

My employer recently reduced our working hours from 40 to 37.5 and set non-carry-over flexitime in place (with core hours of 10:00 - 15:00, for the convenience of scheduling meetings) (so, not flexitime, but, less rigid), but had to throw in the quip “but i will still be doing 60 hour weeks”, which seemed to be a jab at the “lazy employees” getting their way. The problem is, he might be at work for 60 hours, but he sure is not working for 60 hours.

Why is it such a battle to get employers and management to realise, if you want more from your employees, have them at work less, and have them working more.