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This question is related to my another questions asked to HN community

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2450143

Here is the summary of above thread:

I asked HN community if we should give 2nd and 4th Saturdays off to our developers? Right now we have 1st and 3rd Saturdays off only and we work on others.

OR

We should have some fun, events, pet projects, movies, informal one to ones etc on those 2 Saturdays?

What should be a better option for our 7 years old, small IT service company of 50 developers?

I got lot of good responses. Most of them says "Give them OFF" :)

I still want to try giving these 2 Saturdays to developers to do their own stuff. They can improve communication, writing skills, write blogs, work on pet projects etc etc.

I wanted to know what are the other non-programming activities we can do for programmers.

I am sure I am gonna get lot more good answers from this community :)

Update: Well I guess that didn't go very well with everyone. Thanks for commenting and answering anyway.

But I think, it will be very hard for you to understand the context I am coming through. It is my mistake that I could not explain it properly here.

It is pretty common to work on Saturdays in developing countries like India. You guys are fortunate to be liberated much earlier than us (Assuming you are from US and developed European countries). Your grand fathers and great grand fathers built your country working probably 7 days a week and you are earning benefits of their hard work now by working 5 days a week. And some of you may be proposing 4 days a week too now.

We still have to play catch up game and we can not afford to have leisure of working limited number of hours every week. Probably our children or grand children will enjoy working 4 or 5 days a week consistently.

I am not against 5 days a week or 4 days a week here. But we have many more areas to improve up on as programmers and as individuals.

English not being our native language, we have to work hard on improving English. Writing skills, Technical improvements, there are so many things we have to work on. And not every programmer is as motivated to do on his/her own.

They need some guidance. We want to spend those 2 days helping them do that for their own good. Company is not going to earn from those 2 days. Yes in long term it will benefit company as well but it will be more beneficial to them.

So I came here to understand from experts like you guys, what programmers can do to improve up on. We as a company will help them do that.

No offense to anyone, but I hope this clarifies, why I asked this question.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 17 '11 at 14:52

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27  
Your developers work on Saturdays? Cripes, that's a harsh company to work for. –  paxdiablo Apr 17 '11 at 14:31
12  
Let them have 40 hour weeks and tell them to have a life outside of work. Those workers tend to stay longer... –  user1249 Apr 17 '11 at 15:05
7  
To be honest, i think you are slave drivers making these people work on Saturdays! Devs NEED quality downtime to avoid burn-out. Give them the weekend off and stop trying to create something for them to do! –  Gary Willoughby Apr 17 '11 at 15:07
6  
I work in India. Most IT companies here (atleast in Hyderabad) don't work on Saturdays unless there is critical deadline that is fast coming and someone in the upper management misunderestimated it! –  rsman Apr 17 '11 at 15:47
5  
You guys work on Saturdays? I come from an underdeveloped country, and even I find that a serious WTF. –  luis.espinal Apr 17 '11 at 16:46
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6 Answers 6

Why should these developers come into work to 'do their own stuff'? Let them stay at home and 'do their own stuff'! I hope i never work for someone like you!


EDIT: As a response to your edited question, i understand your point that our grandfathers may of worked 7 day weeks to build our countries but they were not software developers! Developers are a little different to labourers, etc. Developers need down-time for their brains. As someone else has already commented that work time can be, or is a constant. Just increasing hours does not make sure more work is done. There is only so much you will gain from working developers too hard, and you'll be quite possibly pushing them away to your competitors.

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3  
I agree totally, it is a rare occasion to do work on the weekend and that usually involves production code changes so it is more the rare. Even in those situations I am still able to flex my time to accommodate those weekend hours. Developers need to rest! Working more does not always mean making more product. –  Chris Apr 17 '11 at 16:04
    
I do a lot of work on the weekends, because I'm fairly inspired to get my projects done, and done right. The important aspect is that I'm not required to do it. I don't imagine I would put much effort into it if I was. –  corsiKa Apr 17 '11 at 22:01
    
"Developers need down-time for their brains." Suddenly my headache, brought about by endless hours of work seems a bit lighter –  DPD Apr 18 '11 at 6:45
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Have you heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs? It says that people need to satisfy their more basic needs before satisfying higher levels of needs. I'm not going to argue against your culture of working of weekends (which we have the luxury of seeing as a bit harsh).

But I would say that having an appropriate time off from work each week is a more basic need that "doing fun stuff with my colleagues".

That might have been a nice thought if you did it on say a working friday occasionally but as it is you're most likely better of fulfilling the basic need of them have some time off from work.

I'd also remind you of Scott Adam's very true words that the amount of real work being done is constant, i.e if you force people to work late or weekends they'll just find some way to slack off during normal hours.

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great points to ponder over. thanks :) –  abhi Apr 17 '11 at 15:46
    
+1: It should also be noted that, IIRC, a person has the potential to be more creative when living on higher tiers in Maslows hierarchy. –  Steve Evers Apr 17 '11 at 17:06
5  
Myself coming from the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (and having lived a good chunk of my life as a manual laborer in the third poorest country in the western hemisphere before settling in the US and working my education up in CS), there is something seriously wrong with a company if their engineers (not manual laborers who have no choice, but engineers) regularly work on Saturdays. –  luis.espinal Apr 17 '11 at 17:51
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I'm surprised you even have any developers if you routinely ask them to work on Saturdays. I hope they're getting paid well.

But to answer your question, give them the extra days off. Work sponsored "play time" is lame and makes management look clueless.

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Positively encourage them to improve communication, writing skills, write blogs, work on pet projects, learn better English, be a better parent, publishing a paper, speaking at a conference etc.

Perhaps make some small amount of resources, books, training, time, budget or whatever in support of these.

But let them choose when, how and if ... some might want the option of weekend, some might stay a little later in the week, and some will prefer to spend time with their family. That's ok! It is so much more likely to be considered a perk of an enlightened employer doing it like that ... and you'll get more out of them that way too.

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The best answer so far for me. Thanks Matt :) –  abhi Apr 17 '11 at 16:49
    
@abhi: It's common to upvote answers that effectively answer the question. –  Steve Evers Apr 17 '11 at 17:09
1  
@abhi: You're only saying this is the best answer for you because it is the one that agrees with your original post! I still think you are working your staff too hard. Give them the weekend off! –  Gary Willoughby Apr 17 '11 at 18:52
    
@Gary I also agree with you - my answer in the context of it being optional for them rather than compulsory. –  Matt Apr 17 '11 at 22:52
    
@SnOrfus I know, but I can't upvote the answers yet as I don't have enough reputations yet. Hopefully I will have it soon here. Thanks for taking time to give me answer / comment. –  abhi Apr 18 '11 at 4:59
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Seems like you are trying to "googleize"(or googlify, whichever you prefer) your company. Probably your employees will end up using the non-production, working Saturdays to do TP(pass time, for those who dont understand Inglish). They will play games and tell you they are learning Game programming. Save yourself the headache of looking over their shoulders. Give them the day off.

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I understand your concern here and this can be very much the possibility. Agreed 100%. –  abhi Apr 17 '11 at 15:42
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Obviously your business is concerned with billable hours. I would suggest that maybe you have some developers that work Tues-Sat and some that work Mon-Fri. Let that be your indicator of what the developers prefer.

As a developer I wouldn't mind working an alternative schedule if it was offered. However, if your developers have families, then I would bet that most of them would rather have a Mon-Fri schedule.

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Good idea. Thanks. –  abhi Apr 17 '11 at 15:51
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