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Are Programmers Overworked?

(Let’s find out)

By Stanley Udegbunam || Updated  Aug 28th, 2022

Are Programmers Overworked

No, programmers are not overworked. You might have heard that programmers work for about 60 to 80 hours weekly. That’s not precisely true; programmers predominantly work standard hours similar to different job roles in distinct industries, with periodic overtime.

An average programmer works 40-50 hours weekly.

Programmers are NOT overworked. The average programmer works eight hours per day and somewhere between 40 and 55 hours weekly.

Although arguably, programmers can be overworked, particularly in industries like the video-game industry, such peculiarity should not be generalized.

In this article, we will explain in detail why the notion that programmers are being overworked is inaccurate; by walking you through the breakdown of the hours, programmers work weekly and the major factors that influence the variations in their working hours.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

How many hours do programmers work weekly?

A survey carried out by StackOverflow shows that Programmers work for an average of 40 hours weekly, which equals an average of eight hours a day for a week (Monday through Friday).

Survey shows that programmers’ working hours are commonly between 9:00 a.m and 5:00 p.m.; the 9 to 5 schedule doesn’t necessarily mean programmers are clued to their computers writing codes throughout the duration.

In those eight hours, programmers may have a team meeting, lunch break, do research, and also write some codes.

Programmers sometimes have coffee or smoke breaks, chit-chat with colleagues, check their emails and social media accounts, and watch funny videos on YouTube.

However, meeting deadlines, bug issues, and working on multiple projects at a time often demands extra working hours or even on weekends from programmers.

Unavoidably, summing up to an additional 10 to 15 hours of work for that week, raising such a week’s total to 50 to 55 hours.

Also, Working hours for programmers who work remotely can be flexible.

It affords them the luxury of coding an hour or two hours, then taking a break to attend to their personal stuff, after which they return to work.

According to the 2022 Annual StackOverflow survey, 73,000 programmers across 180 countries partook, with 73% of them being professional programmers, 85% of the programmers stated their organizations are at least partially remote. 42.98% work remotely, 42.44% hybrid (some remote, some in person).

While 14.58% work entirely in person. The survey results show that 85% of programmers have a flexible work schedule.

Factors that influence the working hours of programmers

A good number of factors influence the working hours of programmers. Factors like the labor law and variations in working hours in different countries.

Also, depending on the different work cultures of individual industries. The roles of programmers also influence their working hours.

1. The role of labor law

International Labour Standards On working time regulate the average working hours weekly for employees of different roles across different industries and protect programmers from being overworked. 

The standards vary from country to country; the average number of working hours weekly in most countries spans from 35 to 45, as stipulated by the international labor standards on working time.

2. Variation in working hours weekly across different countries

The country where you work as a programmer also determines how long you work.

To understand an average programmer’s working hours weekly, let’s observe the average working hours across different countries.

Sourced Data:

  • Mexico:43.36 hours weekly
  • U.S.A: 41.8 hours weekly
  • India: 40.71 hours weekly
  • United Kingdom:39.2 hours weekly
  • Portugal: 35.83 hours weekly
  • Turkey: 35.23 hours weekly
  • Nigeria: 35.13 hours weekly
  • Italy:33.12 hours weekly
  • Finland:31.90 hours weekly
  • Germany: 26.03 hours weekly

As revealed by the data, working hours vary depending on the programmer’s country of residence.

Programmers typically work between 40 and 45 hours weekly; some countries have stricter labor laws that ease the working hours.

For instance, Programmers in Mexico work 43.36 hours weekly. In contrast, those in Germany work less than 30 hours weekly.

An overworked software developer

3. Distinct work cultures of different industries

Programming is one of the high-income skills one can acquire, with the skill being needed in virtually every industry, both tech, and non-tech industries.

That said, the industry a programmer works for largely influences the working hours and the level of flexibility he enjoys.

For instance, developers working in government agencies work for less than 8 hours a day.

However, a programmer who is part of a start-up tends to work overtime to develop and launch the software product within the targeted period.

Programmer’s work hours vary based on the type of service the programmer offers.

Web developers tend to work fewer hours when compared to video game developers due to the gap in their workload.

Different industries embrace diverse work cultures. Some intermittently overwork their employees and compensate them, while some do overwork and do not compensate.

4. Programmers’ role in a team

Another critical factor influencing a programmer’s working hours is the programmer’s role in a team or company.

For example, programmers that take up a supporting role whose only responsibility is to fix bugs when they occur tend to have slightly fluctuating working hours.

In a sense, such programmers can go from a couple of moderate weeks due to the nonoccurrence of bugs or bugs that are easily solved to weeks of working ten or more hours a day to solve a critical bug issue.

Some possible outcomes of overworking a programmer

Programming is a mentally demanding and detail-oriented process that demands that programmers are on top of their game because it requires intense concentration; a little mistake can cost a lot in terms of time and money. 

One of the significant signs that programmers are overworked that you should watch out for is a fall in productivity.

There are limitations to how many hours programmers can productively work in a day.

Factors like demanding an urgent deadline can lead to stress due to overworking, which often ends in the company suffering the effects of sloppy codes: low reliability, numerous bug problems, compatibility issues, and also a decrease in quality of work, to name a few.

A Tired programmer after over working


Programmers are generally not overworked.

They work an average of 40 to 55 hours weekly and occasionally need to work overtime. Weekly Working hours vary from country to country and industry but are still within the stipulated duration by the Labour laws.

Also, the developer’s role in a team or company influences the working hours due to the level of responsibility such is to bear.

Most programmers work remotely, offering them a flexible work schedule that facilitates highly productive working hours.

Hence, the notion of programmers being overworked is an assumption some people have, probably judging from the few extra hours spent on coding.

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