SAN JOSE, Calif. – Are you a workaholic? A new survey suggests electronics executives—that would include engineering managers—are prone to the malady.
A whopping 41 percent of electronics and high-tech managers consider themselves workaholics, and 80 percent work at least occasionally on weekends, according to a survey conducted by Accenture.
Researchers gathered data from 243 electronics and high-tech execs as part of a larger annual “Defining Success” survey of 4,100 executives from 26 industries in 33 countries. Three-quarters of all respondents said they work frequently or occasionally during paid time off generally checking email (71 percent), catching up on work (44 percent), working with no distractions (35 percent) and participating in conference calls (30 percent).
I’ve done those things, too. Personally, I wouldn’t say I am a workaholic, but I consider myself a “Type A.” As such, I often enjoy my work, can overwork myself and sometimes find it difficult to shift gear into fun and self-care modes.
There’s a 12-step program for workaholics that I don’t attend, but I know at least one person who does. Interestingly, there’s also a TV program for workaholics, but I’ve never watched it—too busy working, I guess.
The good news is 53 percent of all those surveyed define their career success as having a work/life balance—more than those seeking mainly recognition (47 percent) or money (44 percent). Seventy percent said they can have a successful career as well as a full life outside work, but 50 percent said they cannot “have it all at the same time.”
Working for a few hours on weekends, for no pay, is not an imposition if the work can be conducted efficently and if you do it voluntarily. Seems to me that to qualify as a workaholic, a person has to consider himself almost like a martyr. But if you do the work because you feel like it and it's fun anyway, pretty tough to consider yourself a workaholic. Unless you enjoy that term, for some reason.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ? Confucius
But that's not always the reason people work long hours. If you are working long hours and it's NOT for the above reason, there's something wrong.
Good quote and so true.
I usually work through the lunch hour, eating a sandwich with one hand and mousing with the other. Not that I am a workaholic, but the banked time is useful for time-off taken with doctors and dentists.
Engineers love a challenge. Chasing down a bug successfully can consume hours before you realize it.
There are also "business" reasons for forcing overtime, but in my experience, you seldom get any real benefit for the extra hours you force people to work.
Now when they work because they are excited about the project, thats just magic.
Companies need to encourage the magic without using a whipp. The results benefit all concerned.
Just my opinion.
Yes, engineers tend to put in a lot of hours because they love their work, but many companies take advantage of that to get free labor. Also, when the job market is like it is now, engineers put in more hours to avoid being the next casualty.
I always pick companies where work is not required after hours. I work 8 hours a day (plus 30min for break) and go home. Not a minute longer. I enjoy my time during work but that's about it. I can't even access email outside work and don't answer phone over hours - to be honest nobody even expects it.
I try to be efficient in work but it's just work so I set the deadlines in a way that I can have time to learn while making projects (reading EE Times included) to make myself even more efficient and employable.
I really don't consider having 2-3 evening conference calls per month with international colleagues to be a big deal. For the most part, my company is 8-5:30 give or take 30 minutes depending on the person, plus the random conference calls with Asian or European partners. We are lab-centric and are actually forbidden from being in the labs after hours or on weekends for safety reasons.
Work/life balance has always been a struggle for as long as I've been in this profession. I have to say though, I appreciate the benefits that technology has brought us that make it easier to achieve that balance.
In the old days, if you needed to put in extra hours, you either went in extra early or stayed until well after dark -- and missed out on family dinners or dropping kids off at school. Today we are untethered. If you have a conference call with Europe in the morning or with India in the evening, nobody cares where you are when you're doing it. When it's time to leave the office and go home to the family, you just go -- and do the call from wherever you are when it's time to dial in.
That's pretty much the way I operate too. Conference calls and even webex are easy to do from home or elsewhere, for that matter, and I take advantage of that too.
All the more reason to wonder how long I would stay at Yahoo, if I were one of those unfortunate employees. My question on that score being, if there were telecommuters who didn't perform, why punish the entire company? Just let the bad apples go.
Frank makes a good point. While I work more than the 8.5 hours a day an earlier poster mentioned, I also mostly choose my hours and can hang out with the kids in the morning or afternoon before/after going in to work at weird times for global telephone meetings. So you have to measure the overall lifestyle and flexibility, not just when and how much people work.
I think the best companies will allow for people to work their 8 hour days and not be penalized. At the same time, companies should reward people who perform at a higher level and do more. Often this means putting in much more time. I also think that it's fair that a person should not expect to rise through the ranks working only 8 hours/day. That is essentially doing the minimum.
I seldom leave work completely alone either during the weekend, at night, on vacation, etc. My company happens to have a very flexible policy towards telecommuting and I don't often notice the extra hours I put in.
I'd say my job never ends but that'd be misleading: it ends when I want it to end. As long as certain deadlines are met and I'm available to answer other designer's questions, there's really no time I "have" to work. The flip side that I put in whatever's necessary to get the job done.
I'd say that's a good trade-off. I'd like to think most engineers aren't trading time for pay; they're trading complete pieces of work for pay.
The most surprising thing about this is that 100% of those surveyed did not to some work on weekends and/or evenings. I can't think of a private sector job where that would not be the case!
There is another thing here, it is not necessarily about being a workaholic, but about being quality of product. It has generally been pride that has driven me. Pride in the quality of what I put out, whether product, process, management, etc.
Mobile phones and computers are great to allows remote working or just answering open questions or organizing things while you are outside the office. This however often has a significant price you pay if business pressure in the company is high and there is more work you can handle during working hours. So you are often forced to be(or allow yourself to be) a workaholics. Often in big companies there is a complex working culture and you end up in spending 20-40% of your time just to serve the overhead. If that is the case the best is to change the company before you are burned out.
Computers encourage workaholics for two simple reasons. First, computers don't tire out. When an engineer is trying to solve a computer problem, that engineer's stamina is the only limiting factor. In other enterprises, where you depend upon input from other human beings, their decision to take a well deserved rest may make it impractical to continue work. Secondly, solving computer problems often requires keeping many contextual factors and historical variables in mind. If you take a break, you have to regenerate the situational information before you can continue debugging effectively. It often seems more practical to press ahead in hopes of a timely breakthrough. Sometimes it even happens and the vicious workaholic cycle continues.
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