The overtime stigma has bit me in the ass.
January 2, 2001 12:56 PM   Subscribe

The overtime stigma has bit me in the ass. I realize this is an old article, but some of the meatier aspects of this high tech business culture still surprise me because I'm not part of it. Yet. But I almost was.
posted by tranquileye (16 comments total)
What is one to do when offered an otherwise attractive job that pays roughly the same as your current gig but entails working until 2 AM some days and having half the vacation time? Naively bringing up overtime suddenly results in the job offer disappearing... Is the high tech sector floating on the exploitation of its young workers?
posted by tranquileye at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2001

tranquil, have you ever doubted it? I had more vacation time and more money (because of overtime) when I was a night billing clerk.
posted by tj at 1:17 PM on January 2, 2001

At the risk of cozying up to the line that defines self-promotion here on mefi, some time ago I wrote an article on a core problem for project-based organizations that was predicated on a client's employee telling me that "The profits of our XYZ Company come out of the unpaid overtime of our developers and engineers." It should be seen as my comment on this tech article posting.
posted by fpatrick at 3:46 PM on January 2, 2001

If the excessive-overtime job was paying the same as your current cushier gig, why would you want to accept it in the first place? I don't see how such an offer could be "attractive." Unless it offered big bunches of options or something, which is payment itself, albeit one with a lot of risk to it.
posted by aaron at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2001

Unfortunately, Aaron, I wonder if those how comon those "cushier gigs" are in the tech world. The culture of promise the world, do it all, do it now, whether feasible or not has resulted in widespread mismanagement of such efforts even in some of the biggest names of the tech world. Need I really say more than this?
posted by fpatrick at 3:54 PM on January 2, 2001

aaron - Options yes, but in a company who's stock is just above a dollar. The position is more attractive than my current government gig: higher profile, more creative work, more of a team. I would be willing to make a change, but...
posted by tranquileye at 4:01 PM on January 2, 2001

I've worked at places where: employees have had vacations taken away (including a scuba trip, the company paid for it and rescheduled it), had holidays taken away, had weekends taken away, and had to fight with HR because most of the department had exceeded the limit on accrued vacation time, all in the name of shipping a product.

On the other hand, there were also people who routinely worked long hours because the work was intensely fascinating, which is probably the best circumstances to work long hours.

On the other hand, the company encouraged or at least tolerated volleyball at lunchtime, flex hours (as long as you were productive), video games, and the occaisional mid-afternoon movie.

I think that ultimately, if you demand that your employees should work long hours, you will get crappy work and resentful employees. If you create an environment where the employees want to work hard, then you will get far better work (although you may not get long hours. Long hours != hard work).
posted by plinth at 6:47 AM on January 3, 2001

In two weeks, I'll be trading .com for .gov. Less opportunity for advancement, but NO un-paid overtime. And a helluva lot more exposure.

Who knows...maybe I'll come crawling back in 6 months. I'll keep you posted.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:56 AM on January 3, 2001

Ah, crap. Messed up the second link. Should be this. Guess I've already left this job. Sorry.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2001

Library of Congress? Pretty cool.
posted by aaron at 10:31 PM on January 3, 2001

Yeah, I think it's pretty cool. Some pretty amazing usage stats.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:51 AM on January 4, 2001

What are you gonna be doing there, anyway?

I wonder who's going to get the job of redoing That last redesign there sucks.
posted by aaron at 4:20 PM on January 4, 2001

Hire me too!
posted by tranquileye at 7:50 PM on January 4, 2001

I'll be the man in charge of Well, me and a committee. Um, make that me, a committee, and Congress. Anyway, I'll be the "Technical Coordinator," the director of the site, GS-13, with a staff and a budget and an office, the guy who'll get really frustrated at the conflict between his mandate to fix up the site and the limitations of working for the government.

We'll see how it goes -- it really is a great opportunity to get some management experience, in case I decide to come back to the corporate world. Plus, I can check out books from the world's largest library. AND it's less than a mile from my apartment.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:45 AM on January 5, 2001

You know, that is the kind of job that would make me jump for a net cut in pay. Congrats, MrMoonPie.
posted by kindall at 7:07 AM on January 5, 2001

That's a pretty rockin' gig, MrMoonPie! Congrats!
posted by aaron at 2:54 PM on January 5, 2001

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