Thursday, November 29, 2007

Doug gets no sleep

...along with the rest of the frickin country!! Ever since moving down to the Tokyo area, I've been averaging about maybe 4-5 hours sleep. I work sometimes as late as 7:30pm (average of maybe 6-6:30, which I don't mind as I'm paid hourly), and cannot for the life of me get to sleep before 1 most of the time. This is bad considering with the commute I wake up at 6, thus no sleep!

But as I say, I'm not alone in my struggle against the sandman. I read this article at my favorite Japanese weird fact source that says Japanese may cost themselves up to 30bajillion doll hairs per year in productivity from not sleeping, and I for one will agree if it means that they'll let me come in at like 10 or so. But seriously, I totally agree with the whole idea that staying in the office long hours does not necessarily mean you get more done. Work smart not hard, all the way. I'd do an experiment and see how much work I could get done just doing the 9-5 but sleeping more, but as I said I'm paid hourly and like the overtime bonus. That and I don't want to go to sleep all early and miss out on all the fun to be had staying out til last train with friends or vegging out watching downloaded American tv shows and movies.

Now my office certainly isn't one of those places where you automatically have to stay just because your boss doesn't want to go home yet, but they do have enough to keep you busy at times... especially my department. One thing that you might find crazy if you've never worked in Japan though is that every Wednesday is "go home on time" day, implying that no one does any other day of the week. Seriously, it's on the calendar.


Ian Lewis said...

Shit. Wednesday is "go home on time" day? Why didn't I know about this? Seriously though, only in Japan is going home after an hour of overtime considered early.

Mike said...

Well, let me share my experiences since I work in the only country in the world who averages more hours per week at work than Japan.

Some things to remember before I start:
1) I work for an international company in Korea so we are not as strict as most Korean companies.
2) Korean companies DO NOT pay overtime; they pay salary.
3) Korean labor law states that any work done past 5:30pm is considered overtime and should be compensated
4) Apparently not one Korean company follows the above law
5) Stating "well, other Korean companies don't pay overtime" is a justifiable way to explain why they don't follow that law

Now as for my experience, I start everyday at 9am and usually tag out at about 6:30 or 7:00. A few times a month I will be here until 10 or 11. I've only been here past 1am twice. It's really not that bad when I think about it but thats because I compare my case to some of the other people in my company.

For an example I will use my friend, lets call her Ms. H.

Everyday, usually including Saturdays and Sundays to some limited degree as well, Ms. H is at this company for at least 15 hours. She regularly works from 9am until 2am and her big boss actually has an "overtime meter" that everyone has to keep track of every month. She uses this "overtime meter" as a way to judge how well everyone is doing. As if job performance is somehow dictated by this rudimentary technique. The funny thing is, despite 5:30pm being our company's official ending time, the "overtime meter" doesn't start until 7pm. I've seen girls like her break down in the middle of working hours and start bawling their eyes out from the stress.

Now, Ms. H isn't an atypical case here. I'd have to say cases like hers represent probably 40% of my company. Some of my friends at "real" Korean companies have it worse. They get complimentary beds from their put under their desks.

So yeah, its pretty bad in Korea too.

Sorry, just wanted to vent.

Mike said...

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that I've actually caught myself saying "ahh...I get to leave early today" when I'm clocking out at 6pm. I need to break myself of that mindset...seriously.

darg said...

Ian: ...apparently not looking below! ;P
But yeah, I feel ya - it's bizarre.

Mike: You've been at work at 1am??

While I think that it's utterly and totally ridiculous, I do hear similar stories around here. Although as you mention, not with the frequency that you seem to see it.

Last night actually I was talking to a girl that was telling me about how she didn't like it on the occasions when she found herself taking the last train home, coming directly from work! And I've gotten a mail from someone's work email addy at 11pm before, so they exist here too.

And with the breaking down thing, I'd say that's exactly why you hear the stories of suicide rates being so high and all the train-jumpers and such. Tragic.

Oh get this: so I hear there's this yellow flag system at my company where if you work too much overtime they start telling you to chill and take some time off or leave early. They have problems w/ that when people go out to international construction sites since site hours are 10 hours a day, 6 days a week standard. Could you imagine doing that for 6 months~1 year straight?

Nick said...

Dude, that sounds pretty horrid. I switched to the 10:00PM bedtime, in at 7:00 (out at 4:00) system and it's suited me well.

Are you stuck working those hours?

darg said...

Nick: that sounds nice... too bad it'd never work for me since I can never seem to get to bed before 12 midnight. That, and the "flex schedule" is not really available to me, so that's out too.

Seriously, even today when my roommate's out of town on business and I really have nothing to do, here I am posting this comment at 12:30 or so! What the hell... I should go to sleep! >_<