I was reading an article from Ben Yoskovitz (Started Standout jobs) about why you should hire workaholics or not and it got me thinking.. Why it is expected that web developers do overtime? Most of the time for free? From a startup perspective, the fact that you will be tackling interesting problems and doing more R&D should be enough that you want to put extra effort for free every week.
I always had a odd feeling about overtime since I started to work professionally as a front-end developer. Doing overtime for free has never been something I was really good with, and I am a workaholic! but for me, not for someone else’s company or project.
It’s not like your going to have a company share that matters unless you are a manager or a director, or a lead at least.
Overtime and “doing a bit more for the company”
Generally the companies I worked for (I always been in the CMS/website business) were saying that I would need to put an extra effort to help the company be more profitable. But where is my profit in this? Why should I spend 10-20 hours more a week for mostly nothing? Most of the time your extra effort will be forgotten in 2 weeks when the next project starts.
For me it always sounded like this, “invest time and you might get a cookie in return”.
Do you write good code when you’re tired?
Would you really write good code doing a constant 60-70 hours week? Or do you write an unmaintainable mess taking wrong decisions because of the stress and being tired.
I’m sure great developers still manage to write good code, but your bound to take a few short turns if you’re rushing something off.
To be fair
Sometimes people get in deep sh*t. When a client expect a website on a fixed release date, yeah extra efforts can be needed, but why it shouldn’t be paid? Do we cost that much? If you are a carpenter on a construction site and your boss needs you in overtime because the building is behind schedule, you will be paid your overtime, even better, they will often double your hourly rate as an incentive.
Investing in yourself
Instead of investing in a company that will probably lay you off if they do not hit their budget mark, I say invest in yourself. Work 40 hours, and if you want to put more effort, start your thing on the side.Tackle problems you choose instead of working on someone else project in overtime.
As web developers we have the ability to mostly create a web application from the ground up all by ourselves. Why not use our talents to create something that will maybe one day provide us our own money.
And if the project do not work in the end, at least you will probably get something interesting to show at your next job interview. And I am pretty sure you will learn a lot more trying new stuff yourself in your relaxed environment. I certainly learn a lot at home, but I just go at my pace.
All that being said
If you love the product you are developing, or the company, or you got great advantages, go ahead and write code. I have nothing against overtime itself if you have conditions that are favoring it. I am just bored of the “entrepreneur” attitude that developers should do any amount of overtime that is needed to move their company or project fast enough.