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Long hour syndrome?!

#1 Long hour syndrome?!
11/08/2008 12:33



I've been going through all the threads looking for some insight into the working hours within consulting. There seems to be a plethora of posts on the long and demanding consulting hours and I keep wondering: how much of this is true?

Is this just a bit of overblown machismo? Some self-commiseration after a one-off long night? To say that you do 12 hours average is a lot of hours, if you spend 6/8h sleeping that doesn't leave many more in a day. Or maybe a bit of repeat-what-everyone-else-says-about-hours...after all I'm valuable too!

I work in industry and never finish later than 6PM, rarely anything else. I've always been fascinated by consulting and have more than once wanted to move over to push my career forward a bit faster....but to do 12 hours a day?! That means getting up at say 6/7AM if commuting, coming back very late at night...When do you see your friends? socialise? Do your laundry or any other mundane thing that one would want to do...(sleep?!). This is not even mentioning family. I mean, say a married person, I don't think my partner wouldn't be too impressed to see me between the hours of 11PM and 11:30PM when I then pass out too knackered to do anything else.

I'd like to hear some opinions, this sounds like madness to me, living-to-work rather than the other way round.

So...are these hours real?

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#2 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
11/08/2008 14:38

Misc to Peter (#1)

this is exactly what I want to know as well

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#3 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
11/08/2008 15:22

consultant to Misc (#2)

have a look at threads 46795 and 44127 which discusses similar issues

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#4 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
11/08/2008 16:33

anon to consultant (#3)

Isn't that the point of this post? I hope you don't interpret your client data in the same way as this post "Consultant". I think the point Peter is trying to make is, are posts like 46795 actually realistic?

I think it is an interesting point because 12 hour days, EVERY day including several weekends does strike me as a bit of "I work harder than you, aren't I the brave little soldier". Does everyone believe this is really a true reflection of consulting?

Because if it is, you are all nuts and I will stick to industry.

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#5 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
11/08/2008 18:17

Bo to anon (#4)

Threads like this demonstrate what an all-encompassing term "management consultancy" really is.

If you are a grunt working at Accenture, IBM, Deloitte etc - a newish graduate working your way up the ladder and producing acres of PowerPoint presentations and crunching numbers - your daily hours will be entirely dictated by trying to impress your assignment manager or just doing what s/he tells you to do.

Accenture are well known for driving people hard, even to the point of employing people to go to employees' homes and pack for them, so they can be sent on overnight trips without losing time.

Most of my work has been done for smallish, boutique firms, with from 5 to 60 consultants. The 2 biggest factor affecting hours worked are: 1) the efficiency and attitude of the assignment manager; and 2) whether the company has undersold the effort needed to win the work or to boost their figures or just through incompetence. All of these occur repeatedly.

Work in the public sector tends to be carried out at a similar pace to the clients’ own approach. In the private sector, it’s more frenetic and the hours are longer.

Since moving to consultancy from industry, 10+ years ago, I have almost never worked more than 50 hours in any week and very seldom any weekends. However, I would not say that I had fulfilled my potential in any of the companies I’ve worked for and I believe I could have done so had I been willing to put in extra effort.

I don’t regret this and would make the same choices again. In my experience, Partners / Directors / company owners put in the longest hours. For every Partner who spends most of the day on the golf course there are 10 who only go home to logon in their home-office.

In a nutshell, if you know where you want to go with your career and you do your research about a company before joining it, you should not have to work longer hours than you are willing to.

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#6 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
11/08/2008 21:33

trinny to Bo (#5)

I work at one of the larger consulting firms and I work c60 hours a week - I've worked 2 weekends in the last 2 years and have probably worked until 10pm or later on 15 occasions in those 2 years, when a large deadline was looming. To me, interesting work, varied projects, challenging opportunities and the chance to do something a bit different make it all worthwhile. It's not for everyone, but it's not exactly poorly paid, so it's not all bad!

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#7 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
12/08/2008 03:25

JAG to trinny (#6)

According to the last fortnight's bus/taxi receipts, most days involve me working either 8am - 7pm or 8am - 11pm. Seems pretty normal around here, and probably works out to around 60-65hrs/week on average.

It works well enough. I get to the gym every morning, go out 2-3 nights each week and the weekends are entirely my own. It's not like it's the 19th century - I've seen studies of factory workers whose average day was 16 hours long.

Source: MBB experience.

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#8 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
12/08/2008 08:51

anon to JAG (#7)

I've worked in consultancy for 15 years and let me share some wisdom with you.

There seem to be two types of firms that operate in this sector (excluding 1 man bands and the like):

a) Big ones, where you are a small cog in a big machine to be exploited and abused at every possible opportunity, and then replaced silently in the background without anybody even noticing once you've burnt out like a blackened fuse.

b) Small ones, where they would exploit and abuse you if they could, but sadly they can't because even the tiniest little pleb like you is big enough within the company to be noticeable, and quite frankly they can't get away with it anyway because staff would leave for their better-paying and better-branded competitors if they did.

Some partners/managers are simply toxic to work with. They will literally suck the life force out of you. If it benefits them by even 0.00000000001%, they will quite happily make you work an extra 30 hours on top of your existing 80 hour week. Usually this kind of crap happens when you really need to take your foot off the gas pedal a bit at work, e.g. marriage, family problems, moving house, legal problems, etc. It's almost like these sadists have a sixth sense and thrive on making things difficult for you.

Then you have the insecure principals/senior associates. These are the ones who are desperate to "make partner" (even though most never will) so they don't just go the extra mile, they go the extra light-year. And so does their team. As the people who have the most influence over your annual review, they have the ability to give you grief of unbelievable proportions. Which in turn means you don't get any evenings and end up stressed out over weekends.

As for the associates and mid-level guys? Well, they're pretty much in the same pot as you. Except these guys maybe need the money a little more or have more at stake, so they just bend over and take it, albeit a little more enthusiastically than the rest of you. The result? You end up having to fake their level of enthusiasm, and in the words of Shakespare, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Except you get paid about half of what they do.

So now what about all you little grunts right down there at the bottom of the food chain? Easily replacable, no internal network, working with people who have big egos and/or want to exploit you? A recipe for disaster (for you). At least in a small firm some of these factors are more limited so you can push back a little and try to make things manageable. Like 50 hour weeks instead of 70.

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#9 Long hour syndrome?!
12/08/2008 09:06

Chromium to JAG (#7)

Analyst at a large firm,

My schedule:

Mon - Thu : Wake up 530 am

Catch bus 630 am

Reach work 745 am (distance of 20kms)

Leave work 8 pm

Get home 9 15 pm

Sleep Midnight

Fri - Leave work at same

Weekends: Mostly free, however sometimes need to work from home. Havent had to go on a weekend yet, although other analysts have.

Total work (excluding travel and lunch) - 55 - 60 hrs a week.

It's not too bad except doesn't really leave me anytime for gym.

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#10 Long hour syndrome?!
12/08/2008 09:10

Chromium to JAG (#7)

Analyst at a large firm,

My schedule:

Mon - Thu : Wake up 530 am

Catch bus 630 am

Reach work 745 am (distance of 20kms)

Leave work 8 pm

Get home 9 15 pm

Sleep Midnight

Fri - Leave work at same

Weekends: Mostly free, however sometimes need to work from home. Havent had to go on a weekend yet, although other analysts have.

Total work (excluding travel and lunch) - 55 - 60 hrs a week.

It's not too bad except doesn't really leave me anytime for gym.

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#11 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
12/08/2008 09:46

anon to Chromium (#10)

You guys are mad. Where do you get the motivation to work so long for this money?

I get up 7.30, work 9-6 and home by half past 6. Work for a big consultancy (Del, Acn, Cap). If you pay peanuts you get monkeys!

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#12 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
16/08/2008 18:10

snap to anon (#11)

as above for me - I have done a weekend but about 2 years ago

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#13 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 10:09

BOPper to snap (#12)

I work in the ever-maligned BOP practice, in PA Consulting, doing about 12 hours per day on client facing jobs, but then expected to put in another 6 -8 hours in the evenings and weekends doing internal work, that is usually nugatory.

For example, some colleagues are working on the new finance transformation practice, but that’s going nowhere, as all the senior staff keep leaving. Same thing happened to our dalliance with Six Sigma recently. Our partners are too short sighted to see any initiative through.

The problem driving long hours in BOP is that we sell very little work ourselves, and end up body shopping staff to other practices (usually Government). The partner in the other practice then doesn’t care one whit about your welfare or hours, and so will drive you like a slave.

No wonder BOP is such an unhappy place.

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#14 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 12:00

anon to BOPper (#13)

But where do people get the motivation from?Consulting's not a 9-5 job but why work so long if you won't get extra money for it? It's not like hours are correlated with salary.

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#15 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 12:12

inside view to anon (#14)

I work for a FTSE 100 Companyat their head office in London. On my floor we have the following consultancies enagaged on work on our behalf: IBM, Accenture and Xansa.

None of them are working 12 hours, I'd say 8 - 6pm. Perhaps it's not needed for the work their engaged in...but isn't this the real point - when deadlines loom you put in the hours, but you don't have a dealine every day or do you?

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#16 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 12:13

Mr Nervous to anon (#14)

The reason we work extra long hours without any extra pay is because we are all very insecure over-achievers and crap ourselves at the prospect of losing our jobs, which is extremely likely in consultancy. Every appraisal is a stomach-churning, IBS-inducing, sleepless run up to a sheer razor-sharp, relentless, critical slating that smashes our self-confidence to smithereens and keeps us down in the dark working away like nutters for fear of defaulting on a mortgage payment or having to explain the much-misunderstood concept of 'counselling out' to our families.

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#17 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 12:17

anon to inside view (#15)

Dear "inside view",

1. Deadlines that have been known about for some time only lead to long hours when there is ineffective project management and planning in place, or laziness.

2. These consultants you speak of - are they programmers or real consultants? If the latter, there's probably all sorts of "team meetings" and "admin" and evening work going on that you don't get to see. Just because they leave the office at 6pm (maybe for dinner), it doesn't mean they're not coming back again for the remaining 30% of their day at 7pm. Or maybe the boss is away for a bit and they're leaving early whilst they can!

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#18 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 14:23

anon to inside view (#15)

This will make you laugh inside view

At one of the FTSE100 clients I worked for at ACN we were instructed by the engagement partner/director/SE (I am not sure how they chosoe to represent them to you) to leave the client site by 18:30 each day. The rationale was if we were around longer the client would get be disturbed by the hours we worked (they were already a bit confused about our ability to out drink them).

Most deliverables were created back at the hotel.

Don't worry - the day rate doesn't change.

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#19 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 14:28

anon again to anon (#18)

sorry for the spelling and grammar in the last post. PowerPoint has dulled my mind

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#20 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
18/08/2008 18:55

For once, not some twisted soul from BOP at PA to Peter (#1)

In fairness, many consultants have to work long hours on occassions where it's really required.

There seem to be a lot of consultants who have been institutionalised by virtue of not having done anything apart from consulting into doing long hours because they don't have the wherewithal to actually get up, leave on time and have a life outside of work or realise that's the norm, not the exception.

I work at PA and a good number of my colleagues can be found working away well before 7.30 a.m. and will still be in the office after 7 p.m. and emailing from home later that night and at weekends.

I'm not sure whether they don't know there's more to life than work, or simply haven't realised that in most organisations the days of 60 hour weeks have long since passed. Long hours certainly aren't good for them as individuals or the firm as a whole. Maybe they are just trying to save on home fuel bills...

As for me (and a good number of my colleagues), I'll be the one out of the door by 6. I expect to work very hard in my working hours, but my time outside those hours is for me to see my friends and newish family. Consulting frankly doesn't pay nearly enough to warrant sitting at the same desk 12 hours a day watching life drift past.

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#21 RE: Long hour syndrome?!
20/08/2008 17:12

green57 to For once, not some twisted soul from BOP at PA (#20)

keep it mind that those leaving work at 5pm don't necessarily lead more exciting and fulfilling lives. Jugding from my client counterparts, they mostly lounge around their homes and watch the of them recently contemplated getting a chicken shed to fill the boring the evenings. oh how exciting

I work on average 9 hr a day (and out of town 3 days a week). As a result i don't get on the nerves of my husband too much, and do my sports/hobby/socialising stuff during the weekend. And yes, I have to postpone my laundry till Saturday and have a cleaner :-)

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