China's technological workers are burning out in & # 39; 996 & # 39; rotterløp

At the age of 28, Wang's energy levels are low. His eyes feel strained and dry. His sleep is light, and he says he's put on 20 pounds since he started working as a developer four years ago.

"Climbing on four floors makes me breathe these days," he says.

Wang blames his state on what is known in China as "996" – a cruel work plan ranging from 9 am to 9 am. Six days a week, which has become the norm in many Chinese technology companies and startups.

Wang does not agree with Ma – and he is not the only one. Many others have stated their complaints about Github, a web forum known in the technical world of code sharing.

They also share "anti-996" memes that damn fun of their difficulties. In one, a Japanese actor was set to carry a sign that said, "Developers' life matters." In another, a pair of wine glasses hold the caption: "Come, let's celebrate being in the same room for the first time in two years." The Github project has been more than a quarter million times.
  Jack Ma, one of China's richest men, called long hours of work

Despite humor says Wang, technicians and experts, that overworking causes serious mental and physical health problems.

No time

Long hours and excessive overtime were for decades common in the country's manufacturing industry. Now, a long-term culture has spread to China's offices.
A 2018 survey from China Central Television and the National Bureau of Statistics suggested that on average, Chinese people have 2.27 hours of leisure time per day – less than half the time people thrive in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
According to a 2018-led mental health survey in China, half of 403 investigated technicians said they were tired. Other reported vision problems, poorer memory and back and neck diseases.
Zhu, a 25-year-old programmer based in Shanghai, says that most of his company has now had "flatback syndrome" – a disorder that causes the spine to lose its natural low-reflection curve. It may be due to improper seating.

"In the annual check, some doctors just jump on the spine and control the regular backpack by default," says Zhu. He added that it is "almost impossible" to maintain a good attitude when sitting for long hours at work.

  Many Chinese technicians have shared

On top of the physical symptoms, Wang says his mental health has been affected too.

"Stress at work makes my depression so much worse that I have to get clinical treatment for it," he says.

Wang says his doctor urged him to better manage his work stress and get more sleep, but he says he finds it difficult to do the tradeoffs.

"My wife and I sometimes talk our sleep to do things we enjoy," Wang says. "I could sleep on weekends, but I'd rather put an alarm and give more time to things like watching movies and going to concerts."

Twenty Wu, a 23-year-old software developer for a Chinese e-commerce site, says he is facing a similar challenge – who wants to embrace non-work and get enough sleep.

"I come home at 11:00 on business days, and just go to bed without time or energy for entertainment or study," Wu says.

  The choirs work to death.

Of course, overtime is not limited to China.

Neighboring Japan and South Korea also share the culture of prolonged working hours. The terms Karōshi and Gwarosa, respectively in Japanese and Korean, both refer to death from overtime.
The American equivalent of 996 is the "hustling" culture that emphasizes overwork and is celebrated in Silicon Valley. Elon Musk, founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla, once said that he worked 80 to 90 hours a week, claiming: "No one has changed the world in 40 hours a week."

Boring and repetitive & # 39;

According to Xiang Yuanzhi, chief editor of Internet Economy magazine, one reason why this younger generation of technical workers feel they have been treated unfairly is a mismatch between expectation and reality.

Many are well-educated, but find the job and payment offered by technological jobs is not what they had imagined. And unlike other high-intensity professionals, such as doctors or researchers, programmers do not receive equal social status and respect, further reducing their sense of satisfaction, Xiang explains.

"Their work is mostly boring and repetitive, focusing on small parts of giant codes," he says. "It is extremely difficult to get a sense of fulfillment."

"To be dumb, programmers in Essentially no different from the assembly line workers, "Wang adds." Young Chinese coders have grown up with a more prosperous life. They demand more personal freedom and pursuits. "


Among the 40 Chinese technicians CNN reached out to few said they had sought advice or assistance from employee support services – which not many Chinese technology companies provide

Enoch Li, a psychiatric health consultant for companies in China, says that in her experience she has a low mental well-being list of things that tech entrepreneurs care about.

"Sometimes they just don't have the budget for it , "she says.

Even for Chinese companies offering employee assistance programs, it is more likely to be a one-way emotional guide who only listens. 19659002] Li says Chinese companies overemphasize" emotional resilience "or" perseverance "but fail to tell employees when they have to stop putting on a brave face, and the stigma of psychological problems in China means that many workers do not express how they feel or lake

Zhu agrees that the reception of mental health care can be favored.

"Yes, I feel anxious, but it never happened to me that I need help from a therapist," said Zhu, who works for a foreign funded technical company that provides employees with a free counseling service.

Wang hasn't been so lucky. No one of the five Chinese tech companies he has worked for has given some mental health services, he says. He diagnosed his illness by watching YouTube videos on depression and reading online forms.

Wang says he is still struggling with depression, but seeing a therapist, taking medication and time to listen to music has helped – even though the long hours he is expected to work have not changed.

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