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Do You Work Like a Geek?

One group of modern workers has developed a special reputation for caffeine addiction and junk food intake: computer geeks. These are the software developers and computer programmers who stay up all night finishing projects, only to grab a pizza and a coke for breakfast and play hours of video games to burn off steam. What is the deal with their wacky work and sleep habits? Can you relate to them?

Swizec T., author of the blog “A Geek with a Hat,” recently discussed the odd hours that he and his computer-loving brethren keep. He theorized that the worker bees – those who execute on projects more than manage them, like developers – prefer to work at night or in the early morning because they suffer fewer distractions and their sleepy brains actually focus better on a single task.

We decided to test his hypothesis by interviewing some managers and computer whizzes here at PayScale about the hours that they keep.

The Managers

Chief New Business Officer, Dave S.
- Keeps fairly normal hours, except for the occasional early morning.

“I don’t really work when I’m home, if I can help it. At night I’m just internalizing stuff and thinking about tomorrow. I won’t open up a spreadsheet or work on a presentation unless I have to. I prefer to come in early to get my work done, before everyone shows up. That whole getting interrupted thing is a major pain in the [backside].”

Sales Team Manager, Emily C.
- Does not like distractions. Might be a closet geek.

“I like working at night because there are not 17 people here asking me for things.”

The Computer Whiz

Senior Software Developer, Scott P.
- Definitely works odd hours.

“I do my best work when two worlds collide. The first is that I’ve actually got something in mind that I’m ready to crank away on. I’ve put enough thought into it that I no longer have to figure out what to do. The other world is usually brought about by my managers going into some long meeting for the afternoon and leaving me alone. Actually, I’m happy to settle for just the second.”

“At one point, I was on a critical project with a serious deadline and major consequences if it wasn’t complete (nothing like a start-up investing millions in a new fancy widget and then forgetting to connect that widget to their ordering system). There were two of us, and we worked in a room with black-out blinds and the lights dimmed. We’d work until we both felt tired, then take an eight hour “break” and resume. It turned out that we somehow naturally worked 25 hour days. Seventeen hours of working with eight hours of rest. After the project was (successfully) completed, we’ve referred to that as our Leap Month ever since.”

What is your favorite work schedule?

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