I laughed my head off when I read this post on Slashdot this morning:
"My current boss asked me what I thought of asking all employees to work 10-11 hour days until the company is profitable. He read something from Joel Spolsky that said the best way to get new customers is to add new features. Anyways, we are a startup with almost a year live. None of the employees have ownership/stock and all are salary. Salaries are at normal industry rates. What should I say to him when we talk about this again?"
My first question would be, has this manager ever developed software? In my experience, developers write code in spurts. When writing code, I’m usually not going at it for 8 hours straight. Usually after my second cup of coffee I throw on the headphones and plow through some code. More coffee and some reflection about more important things (Auburn winning the National Championship for example), then plow through some more code. Honestly, I write more code when I don’t feel like I have to be writing code. There have been plenty of times I would be in bed, awake because I’ve got some implementation problem stuck in my head. I would get up, grab the laptop, and work when I didn’t have to because it was fun. That’s why we write code: it’s fun.
Making people sit at a desk for 10-11 hours straight just because the boss says so is not fun. If you want more out of your developers, find out what motivates them. Stock options, better perks at work, an Xbox in one of the spare cubes. If you create an atmosphere where people are happy and creative, then you can get good results out of them. It works for Google…
Usually the next argument is something like how much money Google has and that they can afford to let their employees prance around. There is some truth to this, but only some. If you’re going to drive your developers like slaves, give them some stock options. Make them feel like their work will pay off. If this guy wants to stick to just salary, then you will need to find other ways to motivate the developers.