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Why 996 Becomes the Permanent Pain of Chinese Programmers

via:博客园     time:2019/4/11 0:02:20     readed:203

Source: Luochao Channel (ID: luochaotmt)

Wen / Luo Chao

Overtime is the eternal topic of the workplace, 996 is the programmer's eternal pain.

Every once in a while, the programmer 996 topic will be discussed.

Three months ago, Weixin E-Commerce Star Company was criticized by the industry for publicly announcing at the annual meeting that it would implement the 996 working system. Now, programmers are rebelling against 996 on github, the largest gay social networking site, and it's a hot topic again, "Work 996, Sick ICU!" Programmers protested against working too long, which was more heated than the last discussion, and even attracted the attention of foreign and central media.


This is a cry from the Chinese programmer community, but there are also some participants just to pass debug's waiting time, at least from the content of the rebellion posts, not every rebel has a strong voice, there is no lack of the attitude of watching and punching.

Three months ago, I commented on the overtime phenomenon of Chinese Internet companies. In the article "Internet companies deteriorate, starting with disguised layoffs", I expressed my core views:

996 or overtime, the key is that you like it.

Even without 996, the prosperity of the technology industry in recent years can not be separated from a large number of Internet practitioners day and night, and even some people abandon their personal lives. I don't think overtime itself should be the target of public criticism, but why do enterprises work overtime, how to implement the overtime system, and what kind of reward enterprises give overtime employees are the key issues.

If an employee can't accomplish his normal task and is unwilling to work overtime, such employees are naturally problematic; if an enterprise works overtime for overtime, so that employees are consumed in the company, the enterprise and its corresponding managers have great problems.

As soon as the comment came out, a lot of readers came to me, and even some people

Opposing overtime and opposing 996 are absolutely political correctness. However, if we only pursue absolute political correctness, there will be nothing to discuss. Although it was sprayed before, my views remain unchanged. For overtime and 996, I can only say that in principle, I firmly oppose overtime, but I have to discuss one thing in detail.


In China, there are few enterprises (including state-owned enterprises) that absolutely do not work overtime. If there are such enterprises, the probability is that they have gone bankrupt, or are special industries or special enterprises. Do you accept overtime? Generally, when joining an enterprise, job seekers will reach tacit understanding with the enterprise. Huawei's "Struggler's Agreement" is unique. Generally, experienced interviewers in enterprises will also communicate with job seekers.


If you accept overtime when looking for a job and work overtime according to the agreement after joining the enterprise, there is nothing to say.


No company will include overtime requirements in the labor contract, but if the job seeker expressly refuses to accept any form of overtime, it is impossible to get the offer of most enterprises. Few enterprises in China will like such employees. But this does not mean that TA can not find a job, because many industries and some enterprises do not need to work overtime, such as some three-shift jobs.


The 996 working system is a measure to institutionalize, formalize and extremize overtime, but it should also be divided into correct 996 and wrong 996.

  1. If the 996 working system is not a project requirement, but a disguised means of laying off staff/flattering leadership/formalism, resolutely oppose it;

  2. If the 996 working system is not an extraordinary means in a specific period, but is implemented for a long time, we will firmly oppose it.

  3. If the 996 work system does not reflect the corresponding salary, but increases the workload substantially without compensation, which does not match the salary, we firmly oppose it.

  4. If the implementation of the 996 working system is not a contract between the two parties, but a unilateral enforcement, or even a violation of the labor law, resolutely oppose it;

In the past, many companies implemented the 996 work system on the premise that employees have high salaries (including options and other incentives) at far supermarket level, and have reached contracts with enterprises before the implementation, such as 996 at a specific time to catch up with the progress of the project, and return to the normal level of work at the end of the project. I don't think this 996 system has any good criticism.


Now with the downturn of the whole market environment and the rising cost of employing people, it can not be excluded that some enterprises reduce the cost of manpower through 996, or even realize the disguised layoffs. Perhaps it is the increase of such enterprises that makes GitHub appear the roar of Chinese programmers.


The 996 system is owned by Internet companies.

It is related to the project attribute of software engineering. Anyone who has studied the basic knowledge of project management knows it.

As we all know, the three elements of a project are time, cost and quality. If we want to complete the project in a fixed time, with quality and quantity, we can either increase the number of people or work overtime with existing people.

Let's make a calculation: 955 normal working hours, a programmer contributes 5 person days a week, equal to 40 working hours; 996 becomes 72 hours, an increase of 1.8 times! Five people's days a week, nine people's days.


Somebody's going to say, isn't this capitalist exploitation? In order to catch up with the progress, why can't we work overtime, but overtime? Not to mention the time requirements for recruitment and training, the more important thing is the special nature of software engineering.

There is a classic "The Myth of Man and Moon" in the software engineering industry. Brooks has won the Turing Award for the highest prize in computer field. He is the father of IBM 360 system. He wrote this book based on his practical experience as a project manager in IBM. The core meaning of this book is:

It is a dangerous and deceptive myth to measure the scale of a job by person-month, because it implies that the number of people and time can be replaced each other. However, people-month can not be exchanged. First, whether tasks can be disassembled, whether there are interdependencies and constraints among tasks can be decomposed in time, whether additional communication will be added after decomposition, and because of task decomposition. Additional workloads such as decomposition and post-integration are introduced.


In other words, software engineering is not a pipelining operation, not every project can be directly disassembled to different people to complete, which means that many projects reduce disassembly, let a person do more is the most effective way.

Never say I wash the floor. Ask the programmers around me if you don't believe me.


Is it only programmers, or the Internet industry, that has 996? The answer is No.

Many industries, many enterprises, many organizations, overtime and even more serious, such as police, accounting firms responsible for project audit, firefighters, leading secretaries, journalists and media practitioners, actors, manufacturing, They may not have the prescribed 996s, but they have to be on standby all the time, not even making a difference between commutes and commuters.

There are two categories.

One is that the working system itself has its own particularities. For example, I have a friend who works in an offshore oil field for one month and rest for one month, but he can't go to land for one month. He can't see green, let alone weekends. What kind of working system is this? Or work flexible hours, such as firefighters, journalists, police.

One is project-based profession. Like software engineering, deadline has to catch up as long as the project is involved. Serious overtime is unavoidable.

If you do not want to accept 996 overtime, the best way is not to choose the company to do the project, but Internet companies are basically doing all kinds of projects, not only programmers, all business lines are, overtime is not only the exclusive of programmers.


Do you want to accept overtime / 996? Cold and warm self-knowledge, not satisfied with the vote with the foot. Some people say that 996 clearly violated the labor law.

An obsessive opposition to overtime is tantamount to

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