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How often do you work extreme overtime?

Is extreme overtime (50, 60, or more hours per week) what you call a typical workweek? Take this quick poll to let us know how often you work extreme overtime.

It is fairly uncommon for IT workers to stick to 40 hour workweeks unless they are hourly employees, and there is a strict budget in place. Of course, lingering an extra 15 or 30 minutes a day is really not a big deal, even if it eventually adds up to a few workweeks over the course of a year. On the other hand, many IT workers often (if not typically) work extreme overtime (50 or 60 hours -- or more -- per week). I have been in some jobs where "XOT" was rare, and I have been in environments where it was common. What about you? Take this quick poll and let us know.

 

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

25 comments
jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I tend to work far more when I travel. 'Course when I travel, if you count travel time, I work over 60 hours a lot of times.

hieult
hieult

I think when become a manager, people may don't care on overtime matter...

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Certain calls require that I stay on-site until the problem is cleared or parts are on order. Server outages late in the day pretty much guarantee a 12- to 14-hour day. And occasionally I get lucky. Had a server call last week at my depot store; the call came in while I was on my way there. Five minutes of troubleshooting revealed a bad power supply. Replaced the entire unit, swapped the drive array, rebooted, and contacted the help desk to verify correct ops in less than 15 minutes.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

EXTREME? Twelve hour days are the norm for me. It gets old pretty quickly but being able to get lost in your work really makes the time fly. I rise at 4AM to be at work by 6AM, a half hour lunch break and punch out at 630PM. Getting home around 715PM, get something to eat and settle down to read until 9PM and then hit the rack. I do feel blessed that I don't have to work any weekends as that's the only time I have to recuperate.

rmlounsbury
rmlounsbury

50 to 60 hours a week is routine in many cases. I've managed to crack the 80 hour barrier more than once as well. This survey is pretty enlightening. I really didn't think I was working that much more than the average.

dkearney
dkearney

I.T. is very much a service function above all else...regardless of what I.T "Department" you work. At the end of the day if the users can use the technology and everything is running seamlessly, then however many hours are are logged...are logged 40, 50, 60. IT is unique in that IT supports all functional areas of a company, firm, or corporation...which is unlike many other departments (but not all). I.T. is what it is and I.T. must do whatever it takes to ensure that the user community can perform their job functions with the required technology.

Justin James
Justin James

Lately, I've been able to (mostly) dodge XOT except at the ends of projects, but that is a stroke of luck. What about you? What do you think the cause of this is? Is IT unique in this regard? J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

When I have to work on the road, it means that I'm at the headquarters working on a mega project, which usually means 9 AM - 10 PM (or midnight), stopping only for food. It's not too bad, since I'm away from the family & friends, if I wasn't working my tail off, I'd have nothing to do, but at the same time, I am thankful that it only had to be done 3 or 4 times this year. :) J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Between the woman and the child, I'd be looking at the business end of a divorce case if I pulled that for too long. I used to do it (with modified times, but the same concept), but as you say, it got old quick. The worst part is, when you are working like that, there is so much on your shoulders that it is very difficult to take it off without crippling projects. J.Ja

realvannewkirk
realvannewkirk

Up until recently, I worked as an installer/ technician for Dish Network (IT jobs here are scarce) and averaged 50-60 hrs every week. Keep in mind, thats 50-60 hrs a week of climbing up on roofs and crawling through tight, hot attics. Right now, 60 hrs a week doing computer repairs sounds like a dream come true.

t.beckner
t.beckner

I have worked in IT/IS/DP for 35 years and my work week as averaged 55 hours per week over that timespan. Of course, when required, I have worked 16+ hour days, 90+ hour weeks, and 300+ hour months. And a few times during those 35 years when I worked as an independent consultant/contractor, I worked 44 hours straight through. This is just what the job has always required and a few times I was rewarded. Was it worth it, I highly doubt it

Gate keeper
Gate keeper

2 weeks ago I planned to come in on a sunday and upgrade from backup exec 11d to 12.5 ....I was expecting it to take 1 hour at the most .... I spent 10 hours on the phone with symantec engineers before we got it up and running. A more horrible piece of software has never been written !

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

One month last year (annual new version of software). I worked so much the R&D director got a tea and biscuits session with the big boys. Then I got my review and I got average for effort. That sort of thing tends to get right up my nose. This is extra-ordinary effort though, I'm not talking leaving half an hour late so I get to a convenient stopping point. That helps me as much as it does the firm. That sort of interruption causes a shed load of embarrassing and irritating bugs.

jck
jck

I think there are a lot of them: poor scheduling poor definition requirement's timeline poor project management etc etc As for is it unique? Not unique. But, it is far more frequent I think than in most other industries.

cbulla
cbulla

In a not so distant time, I tracked my hours at one place of employment and found I averaged 63 hours a week. The returns were I was downsized, given a little compensation, and sent on my way. Since then, I average 37.5-40 depending on how the company chooses to track time. At the company I am at now, overage time and projects is rotated among the techs so project competions, with dates seen 2 to 3 months out (give a few weeks sometimes for unforseen issues) and recipricate time off is easy to schedule in post project. Of course, when the fit hits the shan, those with the skills and those willing to learn put on the crash helmets and seat belts to get business done, but there absolutely must be a balance in life or you become one thing, are identified as that one thing, and like I found out, I lost touch with everything else that was truely important in my life.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... but I get started earlier, so it comes to about a 10 hour day. I was only on site one week this year, thankfully.

Justin James
Justin James

... was a 55 hour marathon. Funny thing is, no one told me to do it. My boss was horrified when he realized that I hadn't gotten there early, I had never left. He was like, "what is wrong with you?" :) That was actually a really good job on that end. The boss *never* took on more work than we could reasonably handle in a 40 hour week (including 1 hour lunches, so it was really a "European work week"); every time I worked OT, it was me choosing to do so, and nearly always to rectify a mistake that I had made. J.Ja

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Back in the '80s I worked for a company that developed tax software. September to April it was 80 hour work weeks, or you might as well be off the team. But that kind of schedule chews people up, and I believe it actually got less done due to all the mistakes from being overworked. These days, it's 9AM - 6PM for me, with the occasional weekend short day.

uFunctional
uFunctional

Estimation and scheduling will never be good enough except in rare exceptions. And programmers will always be relatively expensive and therefore highly utilized. So the only way to avoid forced overtime is variable scope. Requirements will always be messy. Frequent feedback based on frequent delivery of working code helps solve this. Poor project management can result in a failure to meet realistic expectations, but good project management can't result in meeting unrealistic expectations. IMO the only solution to the overtime problem for companies is to go agile, and the only solution for employees is to set boundaries on what you will and won't do (if your market allows you to do it and remain employed). If non-teches know how much of the effort beyond about 9-10 h/day just goes into writing bugs, they wouldn't be so quick to crank up the overtime.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

All-nighters, 36-60 hour days (with catnaps), the whole nine yards. But I was in the USAF at the time, much younger, and in better physical condition. 16 hours is about the longest productive day I can do any more and I had better have at least 8 full hours of sleep the night before.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I've never done a full 24 hours even, though back when I worked on tax software I used to take only four hours off for sleep between every day of the week when things got tight. When I was in college I regularly worked the midnight to noon shift in the computer room, staying awake with sodas, granola bars, and goldfish crackers. That's when I taught myself five programming languages: BASIC, COBOL, PL/1, Algol, and Assembly. There was very little else to do at that time of night.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

You've got a good writing style, but I think we can all tell when you're worn out ;-)

Justin James
Justin James

I am always trying to improve my writing, based particularly on reader feedback of many forms. I really felt in 2007 that I didn't have the time or the energy to give my best effort to the writing, so it's good to know that getting more sleep and having more time really is making a difference. Thanks! J.Ja

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

We've noticed a marked improvement in your writing over the last year -- now we know why. ;)

Justin James
Justin James

My last job was 60+ hours per week most weeks. But like you, I was making mistakes that cost time, and even when I wasn't making mistakes, I was often inefficient due to lack of sleep. I think if you look back at my blogs in 2007, you can see how my writing suffered too. It's hard to focus on work when you are exhausted, and thinking about the family, your friends, the TV show you really would rather be watching, etc., and that's a great way to slip up. Mistakes under those conditions all too often have a cost much higher than what it takes to hire more people. Part of this, of course, stems from the government making IT a special job role in which it is a lot easier to declare someone "exempt" from OT pay. Just try to force an accountant to work those hours or a brick layer, and you can bet that the budget enforcers will end it pronto when they see the payroll cost. J.Ja

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