The Joel on Software Discussion Group (CLOSED)

A place to discuss Joel on Software. Now closed.

This community works best when people use their real names. Please register for a free account.

Other Groups:
Joel on Software
Business of Software
Design of Software (CLOSED)
.NET Questions (CLOSED)
TechInterview.org
CityDesk
FogBugz
Fog Creek Copilot


The Old Forum


Your hosts:
Albert D. Kallal
Li-Fan Chen
Stephen Jones

What the hell is a "professional work week"?

Just saw a job with one of the requirements as "Must be willing to work a professional work week".  Does this term mean something different from a regular 8-hour per day, 40-hour week now?

The fact they have to mention it sounds like a big red flag, since if they consider a professional work week "as much overtime as we ask" or "10 hour days" then they have a reason to fire you.
I put in my 8 hours
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
It probably means "whatever we say it means".  I agree it's a big red flag.
Jason Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
If the job looks interesting otherwise, ask the people that wrote the ad. It probably is a big ol' red flag, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Might as well hear it straight from the horses mouth.

My guess is that they'll say it is about 40 - 50 hours and some overtime may be required and they will keep in the back of your mind that since you asked, you aren't willing to sacrifice your first born for the company and won't hire your lazy ass anyway :-)
Bart Park
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
My definition is "what it takes to get the job done, but not more than 40 hours." Their mileage may vary and I agree with the others that it's probably a red flag.

However, I have always asked what the working hours were at the end of any interview where I was still interested in the company. My feeling is that if they're going to hold something as important as that against me, I'm probably not going to like working there anyway.

I have a life and I'd like to keep it that way!
farmboy Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
I think you're all being a tad pessimistic and that they only mean they want you to work standard hours (ex: 9-5) Mon-Fri, for a total of 40hrs.

They don't want you working four 10s and working weird times.

OP, just ask them what it means, and follow up here.
TravisO Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Whatever it is that you are not doing when you get a bad review!

Abandon all life yea who enter here.

You are going to become fat, pale, sick and lonely, but
not have enough time to notice.

Oh yea, you will still be payed the same as that slacker in the next cube that shows up late, leaves early, and "works from home".
Greyhound Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
They are almost certainly implying that this is a salary position that is exempt from overtime (probably with under the computer employee exemption):

http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay/fs17g_salary.pdf

http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay/fs17e_computer.pdf
Cade Roux Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Perhaps it means simply 8-5, M-F, exactly one hour for lunch; i.e. don't come in at 7:30 or 8:30, don't take a 1.25 or 1.5 hour lunch and then make it up.

That's the most pleasant thing I can imagine it meaning.

I interviewed at a place rumored to be like this.  They also wanted neckties three days a week.  I didn't take the job.
Kyralessa Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
When I worked for an F50 company, it was explained to me that the "proressional work week" expected of the salaried staff was 45 worked hours.  Some mumbo-jumbo came along with it about meetings, non-productive time etc. 

Heard something similar in my time at (sounds like) SharingJoint but it was 40 billable hours per week, internal meetings don't count etc.

Sounds like they're announcing expectations of hours in excess of 40.
a former big-fiver Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
If you go the interview and get a chance to interview with your future co-workers (not manger) ask them what is their typical week look like and how many hours they work.
norbi Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Yeah, to hell with that then.  To me a professional work week is that you get your tasks done, not work a prescribed number of hours like a day laborer in a factory.
I put in my 8 hours
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
It's possible that the position you'd be filling was previously held by someone who didn't put in a standard week.
xampl
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
To me, it is a red flag.

You could try asking what they meant by that, but it hard to imagine it was anything good. Probably means they expect you to work as much as they need with no overtime payment.

Sounds a lot like the "professional day" that recruiters used to use when describing contracting positions at UK iBanks. It basically meant that they would expect you to stay all night if something needed fixing, but you wouldn't get an extra penny for it.

Ironically, it sounds entirely unprofessional to me. YMMV.
Odysseus Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"Must be willing to work a professional work week"

This is very clear to me. It means you need to show up at exactly 9am, take no more than 50 minutes for lunch, you have two 10 minute breaks, and you leave at 5pm.

When you work overtime and have to stay there until 4am debugging things for a client as an emergency, you will STILL be expected to arrive clean refreshed and showered at 9am sharp, no exceptions.

Places like IBM have these requirements. Many developers prefer a more flexible schedule, like come in at 10:30am and leave at 9pm. That sort of thing is not "professional".
Scott
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
At least here in NYC, and esp. on Wall St., it usually means pretty much every waking hour (and then some), at least if you hold out any hope of getting a bonus (which is a big question mark anyway at this point).
BillAtHRST
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"Places like IBM have these requirements."

Untrue.
Andrew Austin
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
almost certainly means more than 40 hours/week. how many hours is unknown. you should ask. generally means alot of hours. Though there is a small chance it just means 'last person we had was a retard who never showed up, so we want you here from 9-5'.

you never know until you ask.
Contractor
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"Places like IBM have these requirements."

No Andy, it's true. IBM is a sucky a place to work today as it has been since the 1980s.
Scott
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
"Places like IBM have these requirements."

Yes, very untrue.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Remind me of my first job.

One time I was on site at a client, work took until 7pm - no big deal everything seemed OK. At 11pm I got a phone call from the Managing Director of the company telling me that the same client had an emergency (nothing to do with what I was doing) and could I go back there again, got home at 4am.

Got into work at 9:05am and was given a stern warning from the very same Managing Director about how unprofessional it was to come in 5 minutes late.

In my book there is two kinds of "professionalism" - the type that is largely for show and often comes with nice suits and a slick PowerPoint presentation. And then there is the other kind where getting the job done and the client happy is what counts. Rarely does the same person exhibit both kinds of "professionalism".

I tend to associate over-zealous time keeping and requests for silly amounts of hours to be worked with the former "presentational" professionalism - its not about actual delivery but the appearance of competence and order.
Arethuza
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
I agreee with TravisO, it probably means 8AM to 5PM with an hour lunch. They may have had an "unprofessional" employee keep hours from 11AM to 8PM, making it difficult to schedule meetings, etc. I worked with one of those types and it can make things more difficult than they have to be.

Just ask them what they mean by it. If it is something like I describe, no big deal.
Anominal
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Never hurts to ask.  If it's something like Anominal suggests, run screaming.  No real development work could ever be done by any shop where developers get in before 11.  How could you schedule meetings if someone got in at 8?
Skorj
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
Skorj, you're kidding, right?
quant dev Send private email
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
I doubt it. Arriving at 11 seems pretty normal a lot of places, but so is leaving at 11.
Tony Chang
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
 
 
A manager went to his programmers and told them: ``As regards to your work hours: you are going to have to come in at nine in the morning and leave at five in the afternoon.'' At this, all of them became angry and several resigned on the spot.

So the manager said: ``All right, in that case you may set your own working hours, as long as you finish your projects on schedule.'' The programmers, now satisfied, began to come in at noon and work to the wee hours of the morning.

- The Tao of Programming, 6.4
Skorj
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
Where I work, we come at 9 and leave at 6. Work gets done.
quant dev Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
Seems like work in the weekends == 'full' work week == 'professional' work week
darkt
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
>> Skorj, you're kidding, right?  <<

A lot depends on the culture of the shop.  One that is based in/around manufacturing tend to be early risers (but also leave the office around 4pm).

But yeah, a traditional software shop has people showing up around 10am, and working until whenever.
xampl
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
If the job was at a company whose primary business is not software then I'd say a professional work week is 8a-5p M-F. I work mostly in manufacturing and it's generally expected that 8a-5p is the standard timeframe you can expect to be able to reach people across departments, vendors, other companies.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
Interview:

HR: You will be working a professional work week, doing professional software engineering projects.
Candidate: Fine.
HR: Do you have experience?
Candidate: Yes. I have professional experience.
HR: Good. What are your salary expectations?
Candidate: A full professional software engineer salary.
HR: That sounds ok. When could you start?
Candidate: At some moment in the future.
HR: Fine. We'll call you back. Thank you!
Daniel_DL Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
"No real development work could ever be done by any shop where developers get in before 11."

"Arriving at 11 seems pretty normal a lot of places..."

"...a traditional software shop has people showing up around 10am..."

Sounds like at least one company caught on and decided to address the issue in the hiring process.
Anominal
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
A CEO at a company I used to work for used to say, "'Flex time'?  Sure, we have 'flex time'.  You can come in anytime before 7:30, take a 45 minute lunch and leave anytime after 4:15."
Alphanumeric Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
@Anominal

Sure, a great many companies "solve" the problem of accidentally hiring good programers by filtering them out of the hiring process. 

Never trust any code written before 5PM, it might have been written by someone wearing a tie.
Skorj
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
It may come as a surprise to you, but sometimes a person wearing a tie (or at least dressed business casual style) may be the best person to write that particular piece of code.
quant dev Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
Never trust code written by any person who thinks there is a hard-and-fast rule about who to trust to write code.
Graham Asher Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
> Rarely does the same person exhibit both kinds of "professionalism".

Heard in the Marines: No combat-ready unit has ever passed an inspection. No inspection-ready unit has ever passed combat.
Drew Kime Send private email
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
 
 
"a great many companies "solve" the problem of accidentally hiring good programers by filtering them out of the hiring process"


Oh that is sweet. Nice one, Skorj.
Scott
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
A professional work week starts at 40 hours and only increases.  The idea is that a "professional" goes the extra mile.

Of course this is all bull because actual professionals like Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants, etc. will make you pay them for every hour worked.
Oisac
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
I once worked what you might describe as a "professional" load of crunch time, but at least I had enough overtime to go out and buy one of these : http://www.rickenbacker.com/model.asp?model=4003

Somebody above had the right idea - if management start getting petty about coming in exactly on 8 every day, then you know what to do - come in bang on 8, take exactly one hour for lunch, and leave spot on 5. If you've just discovered the cause of a nasty race condition bug at 4:58 and forgotten it completely by 8 the next morning, well too bad.
Ritchie Swann Send private email
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
++Graham  for recursion.  ;)
Skorj
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
@Ritchie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_to_rule

Labor actions are fine, but it not generally a good idea to be the only one on strike.
Skorj
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
>> Never trust any code written before 5PM

Have you ever though that the whole idea of a 9-5 job exists because people have families and want to be with them.  Only somebody that's young & single would make such a horrible generalization. 

Personally, I'd be able to have dinner and a drink with my wife at nice restaurant than stuck at a job at 7pm.
TravisO Send private email
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
++ TravisO

I work to live, not vice-versa.

Forget where I read this, but "nobody wishes they'd spent more time at work when they're on their deathbed".
a former big-fiver Send private email
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 
 
>>Only somebody that's young & single would make such a horrible generalization. <<

Actually, when I was young and single I can think of a lot of things i would rather have been doing after 5. I think a statement like that is made by somebody that just doesn't have a life that exists anywhere but in front of a monitor.

Maybe that's another sweeping generalization, but who gives a shit anyway?
Bart Park
Friday, June 27, 2008
 
 
Professional work week means you will have to deal with "professionals" and it would take more time to accomplish same tasks then if you have chance to work with competent coworkers. Basically, your time should not be an issue, you will get dedicated receptionists/developers in your team.

Professional week is (still) undocumented antipattern.
slaven
Friday, June 27, 2008
 
 
I think people are misunderstanding what I mean by an “8 to 5 workday”. I do not mean that you are rigidly held to showing up by 8:00AM and the boss is at the door starting at 8:01AM dinging people for being late. I do not mean that the boss sits at the door until 5:00PM ensuring that the minions are happily toiling away in the pits. And I certainly do not mean that there is no room for leeway, either in an isolated instance (doctor’s appointment) or as a matter of negotiation. If you are able to convince your employer that they, as well as you, are better off having you work from noon until 9:00PM: great, I have no problem with it.

That said, every job I have had required me to work with people outside of the development group. This includes external clients, marketing, engineers, scientists, production, sales, and management. Like it or not, the de facto standard for a business day is 8 to 5 and, unless you are a simple code monkey working alone, or on a team of dedicated code monkeys, your time needs to significantly overlap with everyone else’s. I consider it rude and inconsiderate of others’ time to make them wait until the programmer chooses to bless everyone with their presence at 11:30AM.

I alluded to working with one such individual in the past so I will provide some specifics. The individual in question was the only other developer at the small company I worked for. He would show up sometime between 10:30AM and noon; no one was ever exactly sure. Until I arrived there was nothing anyone could do because he was the only developer. This posed a significant problem for the others in the company because he was not around to field support issues (important, being that he was the only person who understood how the software worked) or meet with others to talk about new features, projects, products, etc. Anything requiring his involvement had to be done between the hours of 1:00PM and 5:00PM. When I was hired it was made clear that I needed to keep more “normal” work hours. Nobody was checking to see if I came in exactly at 8:00AM. Nobody cared if I showed up 8:30AM. Nobody was checking to make sure I did not leave earlier than 5:00PM. All they cared about was that they could schedule a meeting at 9:00AM, before everyone got involved in their day, and I would be there.

In my opinion it’s simple: you function as part of a larger group. That requires some concessions on everyone’s part. I do not find it unreasonable, and in fact consider it a requirement, to expect that people schedule their work day, on an everyday basis, so that it significantly overlaps with those they will be working with. If the only people you work with are other developers keeping 11:00AM to 8:00PM hours, great. But if you need to interact with the more traditional crowd (and I suspect that that’s most of us) then you are going to have to be available when they are available.
Anominal
Friday, June 27, 2008
 
 
+Anominal.

That's how I understand a work week too. Basically be at work when everyone else is working. Not clock watching, or extreme time management.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Friday, June 27, 2008
 
 
"Professional work week" or not, if I had a great developer in my hands and he chose to work from noon to 9pm, just three days a week, I'd let him do so. The value of him being a great developer is far greater than the value he gives me for being there at 9 a.m. with a sleepy face and kindly answering a customer that "we'll tackle his problem a.s.a.p." I can hire a great support team for that. I can hire a rotating 24h/day support team if I want. Also, product people who can discuss and negotiate with the customer. These people must be there at a convenient time. These people must answer the phone when it rings. The developer has the right to disconnect his phone entirely if he feels like it.
Daniel_DL Send private email
Monday, June 30, 2008
 
 

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
 
Powered by FogBugz