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China tech workers rack up long hours, at risk of burnout


China has made great strides in the area of technology. Its IT firms have made significant advances in areas such as facial recognition, artificial intelligence and the use of big data.

But this could all be coming at a cost to its tech workers.

According to the South China Morning Post, the average tenure for tech workers in Silicon Valley is 3.65 years, whereas in Chinese tech firms, state telecoms operators aside, that figure is less than 2.6 years.

One way of looking at this is it could be a case of job-hopping in China’s booming tech sector. But in reality it’s much more likely to be burnout – with many of these workers not even having reached the age of 30.

Many Chinese tech workers work on what is commonly known as a “996” schedule. That is, working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week – comprising a working week 72 hours long. This can leave them little time to have any sort of life outside of work.

One major IT firm, ByteDance, reportedly has what is called a “big/small week” policy, with its 6000-strong workforce required to work every second Sunday.

Like its counterparts in the US such as Google and Facebook, many of China’s tech firms also offer enticing perks such as free meals, shuttle buses and on-site gyms.

But some tech workers in China are leaving the potentially lucrative IT sector in search of a better work/life balance, despite the benefits.

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