OVERTIME ...!!! ??

Hi all,

Well, I’m sure we have all pulled all-nighters and loooong hours since the good old academy days (and nights :unamused: ),

Now, I’m more interested in how this “necessary evil” is managed at your design consultancy or in-house design team,
in terms of remuneration.

Let me give some background:
Most of us have to deal with several projects at a time, deadlines are set and even with careful planning, eventually
the amount of work piles up and at some point some work outside “normal” working hours is required.

I’m not referring to the eventual extra time every now and then which is expected as part of your commintment to the
studio or team, I’m talking about 5 -6 extra hours each day several days in a row to complete a deliverable.

Now here comes the issue, I’ve heard from some colleagues they just have to “suck it up”, I mean,
you just have to do it! get the job done and keep going. No extra payment ofr the extra hours worked.

Where I worked before, we were paid for the extra hours as long as it was whitin the budget approved for the project.
Now, I work for a consultancy which prefers you would take some time off to compensate for the extra hours.

In every single case, there are “ifs and buts” that make the whole thing convoluted,
Did you get approval for it? Are you management, senior or junior? Was the work really needed? … etc :imp: :imp:
As you guessed, is encouraged to do it before the presentation and frowned upon when appears on your time sheet.

I’d like to hear about your current or past experiences just to get a better idea of how this “overtime”
issue is generally managed.

Apologies for the long post, thanks in advance for your views.

Ahh… overtime.

I’m a salaried employee, so technically I work overtime every week. As for 5-6 hours extra for a week straight, I would expect to at least be able to take a day off the next week, or maybe bank a day or two without cashing in any vacation days.

It depends on how committed you are to your employer in terms of whether you want to “suck it up” or not. Personally, if you like where you work, the work you do, and who you work with, you can’t go wrong working the extra hours.

(Welcome to the boards, by the way)

Salaried employee also - no such thing as overtime. If I’m feeling really daring I’ll sleep a half hour late on nights that I’m stuck in the office till 8-9PM…other than that there is nothing extra for overtime. I could either go to my boss and tell him I couldn’t get the work done in the 40 hour timeframe and that the project needs more resources, or let the project schedule slip. In reality it’s easier to work the extra hours than it is to deal with either of those circumstances.

So much depends on the circumstances surrounding the project. I’ve found clients often have lower presentation standards than designers. Before you or anyone on your team puts in the extra time ask yourselves “does this create value for the client, or are we just padding our portfolio.” If it is the latter, don’t do more than you need to. In other words, there are times when it’s okay to half-ass it and there are times when it isn’t - totally situation dependent.

I did an 80 hour week a year ago on a very data intensive project. I was completely brain dead from it. The next week, I came in late and left early because I knew I would not be productive more than 4-5 hours a day. It was fine and I got my brain back. The next week I was rested and productive.

If I do a travel engagement, which usually means getting 40 billable hours in 4 days plus travelling - I usually take a half day or a day before or after depending on how rough it was.


They are all interesting points, Thank you.

It seems to me the “norm” is towards taking some time off, to make up for the extra time worked.
NURB makes a good point about the commitment to the work, I guess the trick is to find the balance between
said commitment and your life outside (yeah right… what life? :laughing: :laughing: )

I also find interesting BCPID comment about “half-ass-it” if required to stick to the time frame, but it is a grey and very dangerous area, it might come back and bite your other half…

Any other views?

Thanks guys!

When I started my job, my boss told me not to do any overtime, but as I progressed, he started calling me into his office to go over projects 10 mins before my finish time and I would end up doing 1/2 an hour to an hour overtime because of this. When it came to the 1 year mark, I asked to have RDO’s (rostered days off) when the machine shop and factory guys have them.

My argument was that I need to be here when they are here and often find myself needing info from the manufacturing guys before I can continue, so there was not much point in me being here when they weren’t.

Now I work 9 hours a day and get one day off a fortnight. The extra bonus is that my boss leaves between 5:15 and 5:30pm, so he can only hold me back 15-30 mins before he wants to go home. There is the provision that if it’s really busy and we have a deadline, I might have to come in on my RDO. This hasn’t happened yet though.

I think it depends on what everyone else does though. I was here on RDO’s with the sales guys and other office staff had the day off. If no one else in the office had RDO’s I probably wouldn’t have got them.

In my previous comment, “half assing it” is not about doing bad work. It’s about presentation standards. It is easy to put in way too much time on stuff your client will never see, feel, or hear if you don’t police yourself. You can punish yourself with late nights trying to meet your own standards, or you can actually spend time with your family by meeting your clients’ standards. Sometimes a few photographs of a presentation on a dry erase board will blow your client’s mind, in which case wasting three days on the perfect layout and graphics and outline is, well, a waste of time. Depends on the client and the situation. Going well past the client’s expectations doesn’t make you a hero, it makes you miss irreplaceable time with your family - especially when you move beyond your client’s threshold for nuance. Live your life. Do good work. Don’t be a martyr.

I agree, no point in being a martyr, in any case, I was not implying bad work as an strategy.

Anyway, I understand overtime is quite different if you are in the car design industry,
I read in a post a while ago “Overtime” could make for a big “extra” chunk of your salary,
Anyone care to share if this is still the case?

Something re overtime occurred to me. A lot of the time, the “deadline” for a project phase is artificial. Most clients, having lives outside of work themselves and for the most part being reasonable and sane people, are pretty flexible when it comes to setting or moving deadlines, since very often the original deadline was not being driven by a particular requirement. There are times when this isn’t the case, but most of the time you can avoid the looooooooooong hours by giving folks a heads-up. Making overtime a non issue 90% of the time.

On an overtime related note, how much is too much? I currently work for a startup and I’m their only designer. I’ve been working an absolute minimum of 60 hours a week (normally about 12 hours a day plus Saturday more often than not). Not too long ago I was kept in the office for a 120 hour week (plus more time as it spilled past Sunday into the next week). I’m a junior designer and I’m new to the industry, and I don’t want to seem whiny as I’ve been trying to suck it up and put in the hours without complaint, but the hours have been pretty constant like this for four months now. I knew working at a startup would be difficult but this seems sort of absurd. Any advice?

Routinely going past 45-50 is too much. You will harm your health, and you will not be truly productive.

This would be simply put. Abuse of their designer, you will burn yourself out doing this and be good to no one.

That’s completely insane. You need to do a few things.

1: Are you working as effectively as you can? I’ve seen people spend hours doing something because they didn’t want to ask a simple question on how to do the same task in 5 minutes. If you think there are inefficiencies in your process you need to ID them, and ask for help or find out how to solve them.

2: Does your management know you’re running on fumes and are you being compensated for it? Most employers won’t want to pay you triple the overtime - it’s not to their benefit to run you like a dog when they could hire 2 more people for what they need to pay you in overtime. If you do not receive overtime it should not be expected for you to put in 60+ hrs for months on end unless you are doing something wrong.

3: If you’ve addressed the first 2 issues stop. Put the mouse down, go home, and come back the next day. If the business can not survive without you working this many hours there is something seriously wrong and it needs to be addressed. In no way should you be expected to work like you are in a sweat shop. But if you are doing things that can be done faster you need to find out what you can correct.

You will not only burn yourself out mentally, you risk giving yourself all kinds of physical issues. It is not healthy, not safe, and not worth it.

double post sorry

  1. This is part of the problem. I am a pretty recent graduate so there are still tons of things that I’m no expert in doing, but I’m a quick learner. Since I’m the only designer on staff, I’m doing all of the product design, packaging design, graphic design for catalogs, packaging and websites, point of purchase display design (and from the looks of it, I might be the one actually building those fixtures as well), and model making, prototyping, finishing. The guy I work for is a perfectionist and typically wants everything redone from scratch at least a few times, which means I can work my tail off all week to learn a new skill set and produce something, only for him to scrap it and ask me to come in on the weekend to redo it.

  2. I’m on salary to I’m getting a fixed amount regardless of hours. I’ve implored the company to hire more designers, but they seem to be going about it half-heartedly. It seems the company philosophy is to save money by hiring less employees to do more work. The guy in charge is bothered by anyone not having anything to be doing at any given moment, and doesn’t seem like the type of supervisor who believes in team based work. We were on track to hire one or two more designers, but I just found out that will no longer be happening (I think they smelled a bad situation and avoided it), so now I’m back to square one on that front. The guy who owns this company has what can politely be described as an “abrasive” personality as well, which can’t be helping his hiring situation.

  3. I agree, but any time I’ve tried to assert myself at all and ask for less hours or some time off, it seems that I’m greatly resented for it and I end up on the receiving end of a lot of passive aggressive criticism (I don’t mind criticism of my work, it’s part of the design process, but believe me when I tell you this kind of criticism becomes downright malicious).

I’ve already made up my mind that I need to get out of this job as soon as another opportunity arises, but job hunting when you work 70 hours a week becomes a massive task in and of itself, and I’m beginning to feel trapped. I didn’t intend for this post to become my place to rant about my job, so I apologize, but as you can understand, I’m getting a bit frustrated.

To be honest that sounds like you are in the dump.

Not sure what country you are in, but if I was being raped like that and not compensated I would quit (or cut down my hours to ~50 per week and when I was fired collect unemploment, but this depends on your states employment and labor laws - spend some time googling mandatory overtime for your state if you are in the US). If you’ve got absolutely nothing saved and still need to pay rent, consider applying for a menial job in the mean time until you can find another job.

I’m not one for slouching out of responsibility, but you need to make the call what is worth it. If you are being driven to the bone in a job that has no forseeable future it is not worth it.

60 hour work weeks is for no one. Be honest, tell them the hours are getting to you and you are running ragged. If they don’t respond kindly, walk out the door. There’s building experience by working hard, then there’s sweat shop labor. Opt for the former.

Also keep in mind if you say you are going to leave unless things improve your boss will react 1 of 2 ways.

1-The dumb, emotional way which would involve screaming at you and throwing you out then and there.

2-The reasonable way, which involves him realizing that if you are the only designer, it will take weeks at a minimum to find, interview, hire, and get up to speed another Jr. Designer. That will cost them a LOT more money than it would to adjust your hours and compensation.

It would be in their better interest to keep you, but obviously not every business is run with the same level of human decency.

The rule that I’ve always gone by is “know what you are worth”. If you let yourself get taken advantage of like that it flat out means you think you aren’t worth more then that.

That situation is totally ridiculous in every way. You should get out now. Even if you were pulling $100k, you aren’t being paid enough to work those kinds of hours, it would still be a short path from here to burnout. It is clear from your posts that your employer is a psycho/hardass who does not value your time. I think you have nothing to lose in confronting him, except a terrible job that will wreck your health. You are better off moving in with your parents (if you don’t have any savings) and polishing your resume and portfolio. A side note to junior designers - routine all-nighters and bad pay are indicative of two things: a) your employer does not value what you do, and b) most likely their business is a financial house of cards and you should consider it a job security warning sign. In general you should not routinely be putting in more than 45 hours a week (there will be longer weeks, but we’re talking a couple weeks a quarter, not every other week), and for the total hours you put in you should expect to be paid at least $20/hr. More hours or less pay on average, and you’re getting screwed. Hard.

Well thanks for the response, I feel a little better about trying to get out of here now. My fear is that I’ll end up getting fired before I find another opportunity (this guy fires with impunity, I don’t think I’ve ever heard about an employee he’s had before without also hearing about the time he fired said person). I’m trying to stick up for my own interests a lot more this week, so far I’ve gotten a solidly negative response.

If he were to go into a tantrum and fire me for trying to assert some sort of reasonable schedule, would it be wise to leave this job off my resume? It is my first real job as a designer and it seems like it would be a waste of thousands of hours of work just to go back to square one like I had just graduated because the vindictive nature of my first boss makes part of my resume more of a liability than an asset. That difference between “no experience” and even “a little experience” seems to be huge in developing employment prospects and I would hate to lose it. Is there a way to explain this situation to a potential future employer that isn’t going to give a bad impression? Would it be smarter to walk out on this job and look for a new one. How do I explain that? Should I stick it out until I have other employment options and take the abuse just to keep myself from getting fired?

I just want to go about getting myself out of here in the quickest, smoothest way possible that isn’t going to jeopardize any part of my future career. I’d like to do it without burning any bridges, but unfortunately I don’t know how likely that is.