Tencent's PUBG Mobile studio has announced a shift in its scheduling policy, greatly reducing mandatory overtime and putting a complete ban on working weekends and holidays.
Tech workers around the world — gaming industry included — are unfortunately all too familiar with working long hours, weekends, and holidays — especially during "crunch" periods which could result in mandatory overtime in order to get a product out the door as fast as possible.
Incredibly long working hours can be detrimental to employee health and morale, and that's one key reason why many companies have been working on reducing (or outright eliminating) mandatory overtime. Most recently, Insomniac Games developers revealed that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart was developed without any mandatory crunch; now, one of Tencent's subsidiaries has announced a change in its work scheduling policies.
Tencent's PUBG Mobile Studio Bans the '996' Work Schedule
Going forward, Tencent's PUBG Mobile studio will be making things much easier on its developers. Lightspeed & Quantum Studio has enacted limits on mandatory overtime, working on weekends or holidays, or working on Wednesday past 6:00 PM as reported by Niko Partners Senior Analyst Daniel "ZhugeEX" Ahmad.
Mandatory overtime and crunch can be pretty severe in the tech industry, but the situation in China is an entirely different beast. As The Guardian reports, Chinese law mandates an 8-hour workday totaling to no more than 40 hours per week along with an overall cap of 36 hours of overtime per month.
In practice, however, not all companies followed the law. A so-called "996" schedule — working from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, 6 days a week — has been enacted at many companies in the country. The situation was so bad that workers created a "blacklist" on Github to help people in China avoid companies with these exceedingly-long work schedules; one game developer even created a send-up of the 996 work culture on Steam called MyCompany996 (also via Daniel Ahmad).
Some places have had it even worse than that: a financial services firm associated with Alibaba reportedly had a "9106" schedule (9:00 AM–10:00 PM, 6 days a week) and an unnamed software company in Shandong province reportedly required employees to work more than 100 hours of overtime in a month. Big names in the Chinese market such as Alibaba's co-founder Jack ma and e-commerce company JD.com's founder Richard Liu have previously defended the long work hours.
Keep in mind, however, that employees at Tencent's PUBG Mobile studio will still be working up to 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM four days a week and 9:00 AM to 6:00 pm on Wednesdays; that's still a 57-hour maximum workweek. That also doesn't factor in any commuting that employees might have to do. Still, it's a step in the right direction, and I'd certainly prefer to work 57 hours a week rather than 72 hours a week with holiday occasionally thrown into the mix, too.
What do you think of the changes at Tencent's PUBG Mobile studio to restrict mandatory overtime? What are the most hours you've ever worked in a week? Let us know in the comments below!