Back in February of this year I was assigned as the Technical Lead Architect for Manila of a new project, a SharePoint + web services based development for a large utilities company in the U.S.
I got very excited because it was a large project that required hardcore SharePoint development which would push my skills to a number of levels up; but things wasn’t as pretty and excited as I thought to be. The last 7 months was the worst “work life balance” experience I had in a very long time. These past months were packed with intense pressure, countless overnights, long working hours, frustrating environments and all the negative things I wouldn’t want to live on.
Long hours is probably an understatement here, it’s more like insane, inhuman working hours because I am talking about having worked multiple 35 straight working hours, numerous 12 straight hours of conference calls, normal 14-16 chargeable hours in a day, forced to work on weekends, special non-working holidays, etc. To top it all, we don’t get legit overtime pay but some cheap premium and food/transpo allowance that is just enough for your expenses.
The experience was downright frustrating, disappointing, exhaustive and I wanted to be transferred to a less demanding project. I wouldn’t expound on the project transfer anymore but the bottomline is that it wasn’t an option.
Anyways, just before go live, (in non-IT terms, launching of a product to production), the project was on a scrambling mode and we had to push ourselves to deliver things that were planned as well as a long list of things that were unplanned. Unplanned tasks would normally be traced to poor planning, poor management, etc. and deep inside I wanted to complain. I was exhausted and another non-sleeping overnight was pushing me on the edge. Instead of arguing on the timeline, I decided to motivate myself and focus on completing the task at hand for an “In Your Face” performance. I didn’t want to hear how weak we were, I didn’t want to hear complains that we didn’t deliver, I didn’t want them kicking us on the ground. All I wanted was to deliver an “In Your Face” result.
It might not be pretty, but it worked and I was able to muster enough strength to hold on until the end.
As to whether I want to continue working on this kind of environment, the answer is definitely “no”. I am currently evaluating and reflecting on my next steps. Whatever is my decision, my priority is to deliver until the end, and have a good exit.
People get absorbed in work and before they realize their current situation…