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I'm involved in a project that has a long running history of failure.

Recently we've been approaching a deadline and subsequently been requested that we work overtime in order to get the project delivered.

I'm more than happy to stay an hour or so, but I recently found out some of the team are pulling 10 hour weekend days and overtime on the evenings in the week. Would that let the team down?

I'm the dev lead so I feel like I have some responsibility to either:

  • Tell them not to work so hard (we don't want burnout)
  • Work longer / harder myself

Because of this I feel like perhaps I'm not pulling my own weight, and while nothing has been said to me, feel like I should be pushing myself more.

closed as primarily opinion-based by jcmeloni, Jim G., IDrinkandIKnowThings, CMW, enderland Nov 18 '13 at 19:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Stop the death march. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_march_(project_management)) – MrFox Nov 18 '13 at 18:44
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    Sounds like you need to lead the discussion on an actual solution. Working 50 hour weeks isn't a long term solution to a project that has been historically late and have failed to delever. – Donald Nov 18 '13 at 18:50
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    Yes you are... or no you aren't. Neither of those answers helped? What is the problem you are trying to solve. Our judgement on your behavior is not going to be helpful to you or anyone else. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 18 '13 at 18:51
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    Please edit the question so it doesn't request opinions - we shy away from such questions as they invite discussion rather than reasoned out answers. – Oded Nov 18 '13 at 19:24
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    I think this would be far better as, "What is my responsibility to my team when they are working more overtime than I am?" or something of the sort -- I think the answers will be "tell them to work less" or "work more", but the explanation of why and how will increase quality of the answers and turn the focus away from "is overtime bad?" which I don't think any soul will be brave enough to answer with... – jmac Nov 19 '13 at 9:01
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Working over the reasonable hours can lead to productivity losses, as explained eg in Why We Have to Go Back to a 40-Hour Work Week to Keep Our Sanity:

...for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous, and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot. ...every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits -- starting right now, today -- is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing...

Above reasoning applies both to team members and to you yourself. Consider studying more information available on that and presenting it to your management, to set their expectations in line with standard business practices.

A prominent example worth referring in the context of software industry is here:

developers think working long hours is a sign of machismo, it really is stupidity.

Best startup I ever worked for had a solid testing framework, zero regressions, high code velocity.

Everyone worked 9-5, weekdays only. My wife was astonished to see me for dinner so regularly. If we ever had to pull long shifts, the company had a fresh team that was nowhere close to burnt out.

Of course it failed...NOT. You might have heard of the company, LinkedIn.

Any time you have worked long hours it is a sign of a broken process. Insist the process gets fixed before working the long hours.

I also "tested" this on myself: limiting self to about 40 hr / week and reasonable vacations indeed increased my productivity, compared to working overtime and skipping vacations.

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Pulling such long days actually decreases productivity - there have been studies showing this effect.

It is counter productive to pull such long hours in that doing so, in particular for an extended period of time would cause fatigue and increase error rates.

You owe it to yourself to not overwork yourself to such an extent, and possibly get your team to do the same.

Death marches are a terrible practice and should be avoided. I have seen, in more than once place, death marches succeeding in the short term, but pretty much everyone involved in them left the company shortly after the successful launch.

  • @Downvoter - care to comment? – Oded Nov 18 '13 at 18:56
  • given piling close votes, voting answers to zero score makes sense as preparation for roomba – gnat Nov 18 '13 at 19:20
  • @gnat - if that last sentence of the question is changed, the question can be salvaged. – Oded Nov 18 '13 at 19:21
  • maybe. I've been away from TWP for too long (about 3-4 months) to reliably judge subtle issues – gnat Nov 18 '13 at 19:22
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    Your answer makes it seem like you are saying that OT is always counter productive. That is not the case. It is the extended 50+ hours a week that reduces productivity. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 18 '13 at 19:38

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