China’s Burned Out Tech Workers are Fighting Back Against Long Hours

1The draining 996 work schedule—named for the expectation that employees work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week—has persisted in Chinese companies for years despite ongoing public outcry. Even Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma once called it a “huge blessing.”

In early October this year, it seemed the tide might have been turning. After hopeful signs of increased government scrutiny in August, four aspiring tech workers initiated a social media project designed to expose the problem with the nation’s working culture. A publicly editable database of company practices, it soon went viral, revealing working conditions at many companies in the tech sector and helping bring 996 to the center of the public’s attention. It managed to garner 1 million views within its first week.

But the project—first dubbed Worker Lives Matter and then Working Time—was gone almost as quickly as it appeared. The database and the GitHub repository page have been deleted, and online discussions about the work have been censored by Chinese social networking platforms.  The short life of Working Time highlights how difficult it is to make progress against overtime practices that, while technically illegal in China, are still thriving.

But some suspect it won’t be the last anonymous project to take on 996. “I believe there will be more and more attempts and initiatives like this,” says programmer Suji Yan, who has worked on another anti-996 project. With better approaches to avoiding censorship, he says, they could bring even more attention to the problem.

Tracking hours

Working Time started with a spreadsheet shared on Tencent Docs, China’s version of Google Docs. Shortly after it was posted, it was populated with entries attributed to companies such as Alibaba, the Chinese-language internet search provider Baidu, and e-commerce company JD.com.  “9 a.m., 10:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m., six days a week, managers usually go home after midnight,” read one entry linked with tech giant Huawei. “10 a.m., 9 p.m. (off-work time 9 p.m., but our group stays until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. because of involution,” noted another entry (“involution” is Chinese internet slang for irrational competition).

Within three days, more than 1,000 entries had been added. A few days later, it became the top trending topic on China’s Quora-like online forum Zhihu.  As the spreadsheet grew and got more public attention, one organizer, with the user name 秃头才能变强 (“Only Being Bald Can Make You Strong”), came out on Zhihu to share the story behind the burgeoning project. “Four of us are fresh college and master’s degree graduates who were born between 1996 and 2001,” the organizer said.genesis3-1-1

Initially, the spreadsheet was just for information sharing, to help job hunters like themselves, they said. But as it got popular, the organizers decided to push from information gathering to activism. “It is not simply about sharing anymore, as we bear some social responsibility,”

The spreadsheet filled a gap in China, where there is a lack of company rating sites such as Glassdoor and limited ways for people to learn about benefits, office culture, and salary information. Some job seekers depend on word of mouth, while others reach out to workers randomly on the professional networking app Maimai or piece together information from job listings.  “I have heard about 996, but I was not aware it is that common.

Now I see the tables made by others, I feel quite shocked,” Lane Sun, a university student from Nanjing, said when the project was still public. Against 996 According to China’s labor laws, a typical work schedule is eight hours a day, with a maximum of 44 hours a week. Extra hours beyond that require overtime pay, and monthly overtime totals are capped at 36 hours.125x125-1-1-1

But for a long time, China’s tech companies and startups have skirted overtime caps and become notorious for endorsing, glamorizing, and in some cases mandating long hours in the name of hard work and competitive advantage.  In a joint survey by China’s online job site Boss Zhipin and the microblogging platform Weibo in 2019, only 10.6% of workers surveyed said they rarely worked overtime, while 24.7% worked overtime every day.

 Long work hours can benefit workers, Jack Ma explained in 2019. “Since you are here, instead of making yourself miserable, you should do 996,” Ma said in a speech at an internal Alibaba meeting that was later shared online. “Your 10-year working experience will be the same as others’ 20 years.” But the tech community had already started to fight back. Earlier that year, a user created the domain 996.icu.

A repository of the same name was launched on GitHub a few days later. The name means that “by following the 996 work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (intensive care unit),” explains the GitHub page, which includes regulations on working hours under China’s labor law and a list of more than 200 companies that practice 996.  Within three days, the repository got over 100,000 stars, or bookmarks, becoming the top trending project on GitHub at that time. It was blocked not long after by Chinese browsers including QQ and 360, ultimately disappearing entirely from the Chinese internet (it is still available through VPNs).

The 996.icu project was quickly followed by the Anti-996 License. Devised by Yan and Katt Gu, who has a legal background, the software license allows developers to restrict the use of their code to those entities that comply with labor laws. In total, the Anti-996 License has been adopted by more than 2,000 projects, Yan says. Today, 996 is facing increasing public scrutiny from both Chinese authorities and the general public.

After a former employee at the agriculture-focused tech firm Pinduoduo died in December 2020, allegedly because of overwork, China’s state-run press agency Xinhua called out overtime culture and advocated for shorter hours.This company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the priceSouth Korean e-commerce giant Coupang uses AI to promise almost-instant delivery. But speed comes with troubling labor issues—including worker deaths.

And on August 26, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Supreme People’s Court jointly published guidelines and examples of court cases on overtime, sending reminders to companies and individuals to be aware of labor laws. But even though authorities and state media seem to be taking a tougher stand, it is unclear when or if the rules that make 996 illegal will be fully enforced. Some companies are making changes.quintex-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-2-2-1-1-1

Anthony Cai, a current employee of Baidu, says working six days a week is quite rare in big companies nowadays. This year, several tech companies including and ByteDance, the developer of TikTok, canceled “big/small weeks,” an emerging term in China that refers to working a six-day schedule every other week. “Working on Saturday is not that popular anymore,” Cai says. “However, staying late at the office is still very common, which is not usually counted as overtime hours.” 

 Source: https://www.technologyreview.com

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China Power Crunch Hits GDP Growth

SHANGHAI — China’s economic growth continued to decelerate in the third quarter, as gross domestic product came in at 4.9%, softened by the country’s zero-tolerance COVID measures and energy shortages.

The year-on-year GDP growth rate, published on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics for the three-month period through September, was below the median 5% expansion forecast by 29 economists in a Nikkei poll released earlier this month.

The figure slid from 7.9% for the April-to-June quarter, weighed down by high commodity prices amid uncertainty kindled by the China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis, which is piling risk onto the property and banking sectors.

The reading also reflects weak overall activity, including in manufacturing and consumer spending. Retail sales of consumer goods, a barometer of household spending, edged up by 4.4% in September, compared to 2.5% in August, but was still well below the double-digit growth that had continued till June.

Certain factors have persuaded economists to be cautious, at least for the near term. Rising coal prices are hitting the profitability of electricity providers, making the utilities reluctant to generate power. As it prioritizes supplying power to sectors that touch everyday life, the government is capping supplies to the steel, cement and other energy-intensive industries. The result has been less production and more inflation.

The statistics office last week announced that the producer price index for manufactured goods in September rose by 10.7% from a year earlier, the strongest surge in the past 25 years, as far back as comparable data goes.

The government forecasts China’s economy to grow 6% for all of 2021, the International Monetary Fund projects 8% and the Asian Development Bank 8.1%.

The economy expanded 9.8% in the first nine months of the year, largely driven by trade as both exports and imports jumped nearly 23% in yuan terms.

Service sector growth of 19.3%, led by software and information technology services, also stoked the nine-month expansion.

The statistics office said GDP grew 0.2% in the third quarter from the previous three months, which the U.K.’s Capital Economics noted is the second lowest since China began revealing such data in 2010.

Growth lost more steam in September as industrial production slid to 3.1% from 5.3% in August, while the official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.6. It slipped below 50 — which the statistics office says “reflects the overall economy is in recession” — for the first time since February 2020.

Meanwhile, officials have been playing down the country’s power crunch and worries over the Evergrande crisis.

“The energy supply shortage is temporary, and its impact on the economy is controllable,” Fu Lingxuan, the National Bureau of Statistics’ spokesperson told reporters on Monday, citing recent measures to boost coal supply.

Zou Lan, head of financial markets at the country’s central bank, said Evergrande had “blindly diversified and expanded business,” urging the property group to offload assets to raise funds to pay off debts.

“The risk exposure of individual financial institutions to Evergrande is not big and the spillover effect for the financial sector is controllable,” Zou said on Friday.

While fallout from the power shortages and concerns over the property market may have eased from September, their impact on China’s broader economy should not be underestimated and will be a major downside risk in the fourth quarter, warned Shanghai-based Yue Su, principal economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“The slowdown in the property sector will affect the activities of firms in areas such as construction contracting, building materials and home furnishing,” said Su, adding that energy-intensive industries will face rising costs as well.

Hong Kong-based Tommy Wu of Oxford Economics said policymakers are likely to take more steps to shore up growth, including ensuring ample liquidity in the interbank market, accelerating infrastructure development and relaxing some aspects of overall credit and real estate policies.

And not all economists agree with China’s official data.

Julian Evans-Pritchard of U.K.-based Capital Economics said the research firm’s in-house measure, the China Activity Proxy, tracked a sharp 3.9% quarter-on-quarter contraction in the third quarter, compared to a 3.0% expansion in the previous quarter.

“For now, the blow from the deepening property downturn is being softened by very strong exports,” said Evans-Pritchard. “But over the coming year, foreign demand is likely to drop back as global consumption patterns normalize coming out of the pandemic and backlogs of orders are gradually cleared.”

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped as much as 0.92% on Monday morning, before closing for the midday break down 0.35%.

By:

Source: China power crunch hits GDP growth – Nikkei Asia

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How Taking A Step Back Can Lead To Business Growth

For most business owners, the saying “one step forward, two steps back” sounds miserable, but in many cases, taking a step backward can propel you forward and actually change your life for the better.

As an entrepreneur, you have responsibilities outside work. These might include providing for your family’s needs, teaching your children values and growing your relationships. It’s a lot to manage, especially when you’re bogged down fixing issues in your business or exhausted from overwork.

If your business demands so much time that it becomes the obstacle that keeps you from doing the things you’ve always said you wanted to do, it can leave you feeling defeated and depleted, no matter how “successful” you are.

Business owners who feel stuck in their business must first create systems. These systems not only benefit you and your family. They benefit the people in your business and can fuel the growth of your business like wildfire when implemented properly.

My company recently walked a client through this process. I hope following this process will be transformative for your business and life, as well.

The client and his family lived a life that from the outside would seem normal. They would take a vacation once per year and go out to dinner once or twice per week. They would spend as much time together as they could, but something was missing, causing him and his family to suffer because of it.

As a business owner, you can likely relate to this story. Things are going well enough — but not great. It’s not what you envisioned your life looking or feeling like.

Our client was a reliable and diligent business owner. He showed up when he said he would. His attention to quality fed his business so he got most of his business through word of mouth. In fact, he would have to turn business away because he was too busy. So, where’s the problem?

The problem was that he was the business. He had a couple helpers working for him, but it was just one small crew. If he couldn’t schedule something on his personal calendar, it couldn’t get done.

He came to us looking to outsource his accounting. It was his first step to buy time back. financial

Over a few calls, he opened up about how much he hated his current business situation, so I asked him, “Why don’t you do what you did with your accounting and unload more of the workload and responsibilities in other parts of your business?”

The first step is always the hardest, because oftentimes, it’s a step back. Most business owners know that if they can start delegating in more areas of their business, they will be able to do what they want. They can live a life of financial freedom and time freedom. They can create more memories with their family and take back control of their life.

After some review, I explained to our client that he would easily qualify for equipment financing with little upfront capital. This would mean he could hire another crew, doubling his ability to serve his customers.

The key to duplicating yourself is duplicating the systems and processes that allow for quality of work to remain high. For most, this is the biggest step back. You see margins drop and your time expenditure temporarily increases. It is predictably more chaotic and uncomfortable.

On the other side of that hard work, though, is a fully operating replica of your workmanship without you doing the work. For people like the client above, this means not having to turn down jobs or work overtime. You can then duplicate your craftsmanship as needed to service growing business inquiries.

To do so, there are a couple of steps you can take in your business to help ensure it stays healthy as you grow. First is ensuring you have a personal runway: Lower margins will mean less available money for you as the owner. Be ready for this with your own finances by not making any large personal purchases that will overextend you before scaling. This should be obvious but can get you into trouble if you’re expecting to be able to pay yourself more in the beginning of the scaling process.

If you’re financing equipment and hiring more crews, your monthly expenses will increase drastically. Be prepared for this by ensuring you have a full pipeline. Make sure you allocate some of your budget to ramp up your marketing, and pay attention to the number of projects you earn from word-of-mouth referrals so you can estimate how many leads you’ll get per project your first team accomplishes.

Also, ensuring you have a lead generation system in place that you can dial up or dial back is key. Not just relying on word of mouth but having an avenue of getting leads through paid ads and understanding how much those leads generally cost and how many convert to customers will also allow you to have more security in scaling. It will feel less risky and you’ll have a feeling of investing your money into your future instead of risking the future of your company trying to build it bigger.

Eventually, you will be able to fully step back and own the business instead of being owned by the business. But how?

Create leaders from within your organization. Train them to take ownership of their work by incentivizing with bonuses tied to profit earned and created. Create bullet-proof standard operating procedures that allow high-quality work to be replicated on every job. Invest in your team members’ success so they’ll invest in yours.

What happened with our client? Within 18 months, he has four crews and only has to work 20 hours a week doing the creative stuff he prefers. The best part? It’s attainable for you, too, if you are willing to take the leap of stepping back to skyrocket your business growth.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Cofounder Easier Accounting & Real Business Owners. 20+ years of experience growing & running multiple businesses. Author & public speaker.

Source: How Taking A Step Back Can Lead To Business Growth

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Dubai Is Using Laser-Beam-Shooting Drones to Shock Rain Out of the Sky

The National Center of Meteorology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has found a new way to make it rain. It’s using laser-beam-shooting drones to generate rainfall artificially.

Last week the country’s weather service posted two videos offering proof of the heavy downpours in Dubai’s streets.

Here’s how it works: The drones shoot laser beams into the clouds, charging them with electricity. The charge prompts precipitation by forcing water droplets together to create bigger raindrops, essentially electrifying the air to create rain.

This past March, the BBC reported that the UAE was looking to test the drone technology, which it developed in collaboration with the University of Reading in the UK.

Artificially generated rain is crucial because Dubai only gets an average of 4 inches of rainfall annually. This makes farming difficult and forces the country to import more than 80% of its food.

The efforts are part of the country’s ongoing “quest to ensure water security” since the 1990s through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement, according to the center.

Water security remains one of the UAE’s “main future challenges” as the country relies on groundwater for two-thirds of its water needs, according to the National Center of Meteorology website. The arid nation faces low rainfall level, high temperatures and high evaporation rates of surface water, the center says. Paired with increased demand due to high population growth, this puts the UAE in a precarious water security situation, according to the center.

But rain enhancement may “offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies,” especially amid diminishing water resources across the globe, the center said.“While most of us take free water for granted, we must remember that it is a precious and finite resource,” according to the center.

Cloud seeding projects may also be improving the UAE’s air quality in recent years, according to a 2021 study led by American University of Sharjah. So far, rain enhancement projects have centered on the country’s mountainous north-east regions, where cumulus clouds gather in the summer, according to the National Center of Meteorology website.

There have been successes in the U.S., as well as China, India, and Thailand. Long-term cloud seeding in the mountains of Nevada have increased snowpack by 10% or more each year, according to research published by the American Meteorological Society. A 10-year cloud seeding experiment in Wyoming resulted in 5-10% increases in snowpack, according to the State of Wyoming.

The practice is used in at least eight states in the western U.S. and in dozens of countries, the Scientific American reported. The UAE is one of the first countries in the Arab Gulf region to use cloud seeding technology, according to the National Center of Meteorology website.

It also doesn’t help with the country’s sweltering temperatures. On June 6, for example, Dubai recorded a sweltering temperature high of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dubai’s rainmaking technology is not entirely dissimilar to cloud seeding, which has been used in the US since 1923 to combat prolonged periods of drought. Cloud seeding requires crushed-up silver iodide, a chemical used in photography, to help create water clusters in the air.

Forbes reported that the UAE has invested in nine rain-enhancement projects over the past few years, which cost around $15 million in total. The bulk of those projects have involved traditional cloud-seeding techniques.

Critics of the drone technology worry that it could unintentionally cause massive flooding. And they also worry about such technology being privatized, Forbes reported.

In the US, innovative solutions to the extreme effects of the climate crisis have been explored. Billionaire Bill Gates is backing the development of a sunlight-dimming technology that might help to achieve a global cooling effect by reflecting the sun’s rays from the planet’s atmosphere.

In the meantime, more than 80 wildfires are blazing across the US, devastating communities and destroying homes. On July 13, Death Valley in California recorded a temperature high of 128 degrees Fahrenheit, the Earth’s hottest temperature record since 2017.

By:

Source: Dubai Is Using Laser-Beam-Shooting Drones to Shock Rain Out of the Sky

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These Industries Added the Most Remote Jobs During the Pandemic, and Talent Is Tight

Listing an open role as work-from-home may sway applicants to apply, but founders will still likely face stiff competition for talent in the fields that have added the most remote positions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020, the vertical for marketing, media, and design has seen the biggest growth, with a 974 percent increase in remote roles paying six-figure salaries or higher, according to research from Ladders, a career site based in New York City. The data looked at 50,000 North American employers to find which high-paying professional fields have seen the most growth in remote work.

Project and program management is the next fastest-growing, with an 801 percent increase, followed by accounting and finance with a 750 percent increase. Runners-up include human resources and legal (546 percent), technology (521 percent), and engineering and construction (410 percent).

The availability of high-paying remote work across all fields has grown more than 1,000 percent since March 2020. At that time, there were just over 7,000 jobs available, compared with 80,000 today.

“The world is staying remote post-Covid,” says Ladders’ founder and CEO Marc Cenedella. “Your competitors, your suppliers, and your customers are increasingly comfortable with hiring remote employees in all fields. ‘Work-from-home’ is now a must-have for employers to be competitive.”

Working remotely may require changes in your workplace to be more employee-friendly and productive, Cenedella says. Fewer meetings, better-written communication, occasional in-person meet-ups are just some of the new behaviors and practices he’s seeing from remote employers. “It’s best to be proactive, curious, and open to new ideas as we all figure out what the workplace looks like in 2022 and beyond,” he says.

By: Anna Meyer, Assistant editor, Inc.@annavmeyer

Source: These Industries Added the Most Remote Jobs During the Pandemic, and Talent Is Tight | Inc.com

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Critics:

People who do their jobs from home, freelance or travel for work are increasingly leaving cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco and taking their families — and jobs — to places including Denver and Boise, Idaho, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Here are the top 20 companies, hiring hundreds of remote workers each.

1. Appen

Headquarters: Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia

Industry: Technology (machine learning and artificial intelligence)

Remote jobs: voice coach, linguist, web search evaluator, transcriber

2. Lionbridge

Headquarters: Waltham, Massachusetts

Industry: Software and business (language translation)

Remote jobs: creative designer, social media assessor, project manager, scheduling assistant

3. VIPKid

Headquarters: Beijing, China

Industry: Education

Remote jobs: online English as a second language teacher

4. Liveops

Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: customer service representative, licensed insurance agent, health care resource specialist

5. Working Solutions

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: sales development representative, travel reservation specialist, corporate travel agent

6. Kelly Services

Headquarters: Troy, Michigan

Industry: Staffing

Remote jobs: data entry operator, administrative assistant, software tester, data analyst

7. EF Education First

Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Industry: Education

Remote jobs: language teacher, copywriter, content writer, college counselor, IT coordinator

8. SYKES

Headquarters: Tampa, Florida

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: customer support agent, executive assistant, senior director of client management

9. Concentrix

Headquarters: Fremont, California

Industry: Business services

Remote jobs: sales and service representative

10. Williams-Sonoma

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Industry: Retail

Remote jobs: customer service agent, technical designer, copy manager

11. UnitedHealth Group

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: product director, medical director, health and wellness coach, call center nurse

12. LanguageLine Solutions

Headquarters: Monterey, California

Industry: Translation

Remote jobs: interpreter, software engineer

13. TTEC

Headquarters: Englewood, Colorado

Industry: Business operations

Remote jobs: Salesforce developer, software engineer, consultant, web developer

14. TranscribeMe

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Industry: Information technology, translation

Remote jobs: transcriptionist

15. Humana

Headquarters: Louisville, Kentucky

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: sales manager, medical director, business and technology lead, sales executive

16. Cactus Communications

Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Industry: Communications

Remote jobs: editor, medical writer, academic research evaluation

17. Transcom

Headquarters: Stockholm, Uppland, Sweden

Industry: Customer service

Remote jobs: technical support representative, payroll administrator, customer service agent

18. BroadPath Healthcare Solutions

Headquarters: Tucon, Arizona

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: director of service operations, provider service representative, insurance claims processor, data specialist

19. Dell

Headquarters: Round Rock, Texas

Industry: Computer technology

Remote jobs: program manager, account executive, consultant, sales executive

20. Aetna

Headquarters: Hartford, Connecticut

Industry: Health care

Remote jobs: outreach coordinator, content quality reviewer, network relations manager, health coach

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