Monday, March 9, 2009

Dont work long hours, its neither good for you or the team

Sadly enough, this simple issue of ensuring no one work long hours (>10 - 12) a day, in a team seldom sinks in. When a team is behind schedule, the first thing a novice manager pushes for, is for his team to put in long hours of work. In a developer centric organization, if a manager does this even once, he is immediately in the bad books of people around him. Such a manager is never spared !

However, in the same developer centric organization, some developers may take it upon themselves to finish a certain piece of work, even if no manager asked them to do so. Now this, is considered cool. While I understand that when you are programming a solution to the problem, you really don't want to give up in the middle , just because it is 7pm, sometimes developers slog for the heck of it.

In fact if you are on an XP project, it is better for you to not work long hours. For instance if you ended up working 12 hours everyday in an iteration and you ended up delivering 10 points in that iteration, when a manager looks at yesterdays weather, he will end up planning around 10-12 points of work in the next iteration as well. If this happens consistently, your manager will forget that it was just an exception in an iteration that you slogged for over 12 hours, and it will soon become a norm. A novice or a less people oriented manager will be easily prone to committing this mistake. The next time if you are on a vacation for an iteration, it is up to the remaining people in the team to achieve the same result which you did, which implicitly means they working 12 hrs or more.

While your team (and mostly your managers) will look good in front of your stakeholders, to have finished a lot of work consistently in an iteration, you as a developer will be suffering from a burnout. And you will know quite well that the next time you are not around, your team will suffer, since others in the team might not be ready for the 12 hour marathon.

What I am talking about here is how to achieve sustainable pace in the team. Not only does it give predictability for people to plan their iterations better, but it also keeps the team going for months together without a burn out.

If you are a Developer or a Manager, please do not abuse yourself or the team by slogging out all night for days together !


  1. The way I put it is that the extra hours are cheating. It means that we have not figured out how to do the same (or more) amount of work in less time. By cheating, we never will.

  2. Thats nicely (read rightly and bluntly) put Jason!.