China’s burnt out technology workers are fighting back against long working hours

Tracking hours

Working Time started with a spreadsheet shared on Tencent Docs, China’s version of Google Docs. Shortly after it was announced, it was filled with records attributed to companies such as Alibaba, the Chinese-language Internet search provider Baidu and the e-commerce company

“9 a.m., 10:30 p.m.-11: 00 p.m., six days a week, executives usually go home after midnight,” read a post linked to technology giant Huawei.

“10.00, 21.00 (leisure at 21.00, but our group becomes 21.30 or 22.00 due to involution,” another post noted (“involution” is Chinese internet slang for irrational competition).

Within three days, more than 1,000 records had been added. A few days later, it became the most popular topic on China’s Quora-like online forum Zhihu.

As the spreadsheet grew and gained more public attention, there was one organizer with the username 强 才能 变 强 (“Only baldness can make you strong”). came out on Zhihu to share the story behind the budding project.

“Four of us are recent graduates of undergraduate and graduate programs, born between 1996 and 2001,” said the organizer. Originally, the spreadsheet was only for information sharing to help job hunters like themselves, they said. But as it became popular, the organizers decided to push from information gathering to activism. “It’s not just about sharing anymore, as we carry some social responsibility,” wrote 强 才能 变 强.


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