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Longer working hours for Computer Software Engineers, India

BY: Bharat | Category: Technology and Computers | Post Date: 2008-11-25

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Recently several companies have disclosed their intentions of enforcing longer work hours for Software Engineers. Even though many computer engineers use to regularly put longer hours to meet stiff deadlines, the official working hours were still 8 hours a day 5 days a week in past.

In a recent report in the Times of India, the increased work hours for major software companies were reported as follows:

- TCS 9 hours a day.
- Wipro 9.5 hours.
- Accenture India (MNC) may soon increase to 9+ hours.
- Infosys Technologies 9.15 hours
- Satyam 9+ hours

We can soon see the propagation of this culture in other software companies who still have 8 hours work schedule. Theoretically, the productivity per employee will increase by about 15 per cent. The longer working hours are therefore expected to boost revenues who usually charge client per hour of work but pay a fixed salary to their own employees. Even for the fixed cost projects, company will be either able to deliver the product faster or get the same work done on time with lesser number of Computer Software Engineers. These new work hours will be enforced stringently.

I am sure, most software engineers are not opposed for longer working hours in a "short term" if it helps Indian software companies to survive a temporary economic slowdown and prevent employee layoffs. These increased work hours however may not be just temporary, few years from now when the economic conditions improve, reducing working hours from 9 hours to 8 hours will likely not be considered that time. This is probably the reason why most software engineers and other techies are not happy. Some social interaction within the office is certainly required but some employees who currently waste too much time in chatting, coffee breaks, errands or just pretending to work will likely face greater scrutiny for good, but will it also kill the minimum social interaction we all need?.

Most employees who were already working for more than 8 hours already will likely have to work even more. In a place like Bangalore where techies already spend about 2 hours per day in travelling from home to office will see their daily schedule to crunch further. The personal life of these individuals is already pretty harsh and stressful, will likely worsen even further. Companies like to post big profits but even if they are based on unfair means. A very high percentage of software engineers report almost no time for social life outside office

Frankly, just by increasing work hours does not increase productivity. A stressed and tired employee may not see productivity to go up at all even with the increased number of work hours. Where is the accountability? Employees suffering from stress and depression will likely start falling towards the bottom and then companies will further fire them for reasons including "under-performance". A bachelor software engineer will be able to devote more time than the ones who are married, further pressurizing the whole system. But truth is that increased utilization does not mean more productivity.

If rupee becomes stronger against dollar in future, the rumors of layoffs surround the software industry will intensify. Lately there have been a lot of insecurity in the life of a software engineer. Increased hours do not guarantee job security, therefore eventually there is nothing to gain. Although engineers could see a slight improvement in their salary, but it may not be worth it. Most companies themself have no true honesty for India as their nation, if they find another destination or country to business cheaper, they will likely migrate there.

Will we soon become software "coolies" and not software engineers. Clearly, the glitter of software industry is fading.


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