Some Thoughts on“The 996 Work Schedule”
“The 996 work schedule” is almost synonymous with the overtime in the Internet industry. Whether such a phenomenon is reasonable or not, I think it might be subjective to give an answer without considering various factors.
The Initial Stage of 996
1. The Background of 996
Between the 1980s and 1990s, American futurologist and author Alvin Toffler and American public speaker and author John Naisbitt published The Third Wave and Megatrends and Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives, respectively. Depict human life in ten, twenty or even fifty years later, these two books, once again open the door to the future for mankind. From a strategic point of view, no industrial revolution can be achieved overnight. The past three industrial revolutions are a gradual process. The essence of an industrial revolution is the leap-forward improvement of productivity. However, the substantial increase in productivity is based on two ways: increasing raw materials, source of energy and other means of production, or improving production efficiency under certain conditions of means of production. The first and second industrial revolutions belong to the former. The third belongs to the latter. According to this classification, the next way to bring about a significant increase in productivity is the further development of a widely used new energy or highly intelligent automation technology. In an era of rapid development and also in a learning society, if we are engaged in a highly repetitive and less creative work, we need to be alert to recharge our batteries, because this kind of work could be replaced by artificial intelligence at any time in the future.
2. The True Intention and Rationality of 996
2.1 To attract more high-end talents and upgrade their organization.
2.2 To enhance the competitiveness of enterprise products. It seems that the means of production has not changed and the production cost has not increased, but the working hours of the work force has increased. Invisibly, the value created by workers for enterprises in a unit time has increased, while the unit labor cost has decreased.
2.3 To maximize the profits for shareholders. This is an era of brand economy. The more appealing brand products are, the more competitive and viable they are in the market; the more competitive in the market, the more solid capital base they possess and the easier for them to deal with various market risks.
Disadvantages of 996
From the above points, we can see that the 996 work schedule is actually a pronoun of "corporate culture" which is self-praised by entrepreneurs, but there are some concerns we need to address from different perspectives, such as employees, society and national conditions, the three aspects that corporate culture involves.
1. Violation of the National Labor Law
China's labor law clearly stipulates that employers can extend their working hours, usually no more than one hour a day and no more than 36 hours a month. The overtime of the 996 work schedule far exceeds this limit.
2. Violation of human's physiological adaptability to labor intensity
It is undoubted that humans are constrained by their physical functions. If such high-intensity labor become a routine, few young people can sustain. Not to mention women and the elderly. The emergence of various health problems, especially the "death from overwork" news in recent years, is the sad proof.
3. Weakening family function
It stripped the family members of the opportunity to enjoy the family happiness. Since most of the time is occupied by work, the time to take care of family is shrinking. Even if there is a day off on Sunday, various things left behind in the day would need to be dealt with, and there is no time for effective communication. In a long run, the family's affection function is gradually weakened.
4. Increasing family and social contradictions
As less and less time is spent on communication and interaction, the family's affection function is gradually weakened, various contradictions in the family will gradually appear, and emotional outbursts might become common. A society is made up of families. If families have problems, society will be affected.
5. Not conducive to stimulating economic growth
It seems that a large number of elites would devote their time only to work. Do they have spare time to entertain themselves? It seems rare for them to take a break and relax.
Therefore, the analysis should not be about facts only, but the rationale of the 996 work schedule as well. It is important to realize the value in denying and abandoning such a schedule, and to find a place where one can make full use of one's talents. That is to say, the 996 work schedule should not become the norm of any industry.
Advice for Employees under the 996 Work Schedule
Whether the disadvantages outweigh the advantages or the other way round, enterprises have their rules and regulations after all. If they are enacted, safety might be guaranteed. Therefore, we still have to work hard, understand the 996 Work Schedule to the greatest extent, and try to change it.
1. Improve the working efficiency. No overtime after the 996 schedule.
2. Pay attention to the balance of work and leisure. The body is the “capital of revolution.”
3. Make the family life as rich and colorful as possible. After all, home is the harbor for everyone to relax, adjust, and reinvigorate themselves.
4. Balanced mindset. When there is a conflict between an ideal life and reality, we can adjust ourselves in the first place, instead of exerting hostille and destructive force. Because hostility and destructive power will not change the status quo, but only make it worse.
5. Learn to enjoy and enrich your life. For example, listen to music, practice indoor aerobic running, take a nap, etc.
6. When the contradictions and conflicts between individuals and enterprises are irreconcilable, one should learn to appeal rationally so as to protect one’s legitimate rights and interests. For example: find opportunities to report problems to high-level leaders; ask for leave; cleverly disclose issues to reliable social media to make one’s voice heard; use law to protect one’s rights.
Expectations of Self Vocation
1. If I am capable enough, I would not choose the 996 work schedule. I don't want to turn myself into a working machine, a person who would only work and have little sense of family and social interaction.
2. If I am not capable enough to choose the way I want to live. I will make the best use of the present time and try to be more competitive.
Adjust one’s mindset and try one’s best to accept the present situation without losing yearnings and pursuit for a better life. One should continue to work hard and accumulate strength to await the emergence of a breakthrough opportunity.