The Mythical Developer Week+

Disclaimer : Although the title seems analogous, this post is not related to the book “The Mythical Man Month”, I haven’t read it.

Recently I read a question on Quora : How can I make my developers work for 60 to 80 hours a week? There have been some interesting responses..

As a “startup developer” I’ve observed this quiet well, and I’ve observed it failing, badly, quiet often!

If you need to work 60+ hours a week, you’re probably doing it wrong!
VIshwajeet Vatharkar

Seriously, why a developer would need to work more than 40 hours (or whatever the “default” time is)? The root cause would be poor estimations and management..
Now, you might argue that this is the requirement – that is, working more to complete the product earlier, this is profound, especially for product startups..
And they expect engineers to work accordingly.
Working on weekly offs, working overtime, or those mini-internal-hackathons — among the same..

The biggest fallacy here is – Time spent in development is not the measure of development done!

These are some of the concerns –

  • Developer’s productivity patterns are non uniform.
  • Developers are “people” with “brains”, a brain is an organ, which strains after performing. It may be surprising, but they have their circadian rhythms going on, too.
  • True, consistent quality is achieved when there is enough time and energy to “look back”.
  • A caffeinated coding night ensures a clean-up program for couple of weeks.
  • Overwork, voluntary or not, might cause reduction in net happiness, and as Tayler Otwell says in Laravel docs, “Happy Developers Best Code!”
    You can read the imminent colliery here.

Hackathons are great when you’re building PoC, maybe to demonstrate your technical prowess ( where you would trash the code afterwards) but if you’re building serious products, a well motivated, 40-hours-a-week developer is best suit for you!

An advice for wannabe-high-performance startups –

  • Motivate the engineers for the products they’re building
  • Encourage and inspire them to adhere to highest quality standards, for ANYthing!
  • Care about their overall / net happiness
  • Reduce / remove the disciplinary compliance restrictions

Now, you will have highly productive teams!