Burnt-out Chinese technicians fight against long hours

Tracking hours

Working hours started with a spreadsheet published in Tencent Docs, the Chinese version of Google Docs. Soon after publication, it was filled with entries attributed to companies such as Alibaba, the Chinese search engine Baidu, and e-commerce company

“9 am, 10:30 pm – 11:00 pm, six days a week, managers usually leave home after midnight,” says one entry linked to tech giant Huawei.

“10:00, 21:00 (after hours – 21:00, but our group stays until 21:30 or 22:00 due to involution, “- noted another entry (” involution “is the Chinese Internet slang for irrational competition).

Over a period of three days, over 1000 entries were added. A few days later, it became the most popular topic on the Chinese online forum Zhihu, similar to Quora.

As the table grew and gained more public attention, one organizer named user 秃头 才能 变 强 (“Only a bald head can make you strong”) went out to Zhihu to share the story of the developing project.

“The four of us are just college graduates and have a master’s degree, born between 1996 and 2001,” said the organizer. Initially, they said, the spreadsheet was intended only for sharing information to help job seekers like themselves. But when it became popular, the organizers decided to move from information gathering to activism.秃头 才能 变 强 wrote, “This is no longer just an exchange, we have some social responsibility.”

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