Ever since my first job (entering some data into excel sheets during school summer holidays) I've been asking myself this question: "does it make sense to be paid per hour if the work can be finished faster?".
For example, if you work as a guide, it does make sense to get hourly pay. But if you are doing a set task that produces a concrete result, why are you, in most cases, being paid for the hours?
I always was fast and good with my homework. It made sense to start early and to be efficient because I would get more free time. And I was faster than other people, entering rows in those datasheets. As you can guess, it did not pay off and felt super unfair and stupid (teen's thoughts).
If you are fast and efficient ultimately you get paid less for the same amount of work. And since it might be still expected for you to work full hours it is possible to get overworked and burnt out. Concentrated work is more demanding.
The incentive to be fast is lost. You start conserving energy. Thinking in hours, not in results. You don't get more free time or more money. Maybe you get a promotion a year later if you can keep up the tempo.
On the other hand, if you get paid per project it is really important to have a good estimate of the days (not hours!) you will need to finish it, so you get enough money to go on. And it is notoriously hard to do in the software world. Most of the time you have no idea how much time the project will take to finish, unless it is something standard. So it probably makes sense to pay developers for hours worked, even from the point of view of the developers.
15 years later, I am still debating this topic with myself.
It would be nice to hear about your experiences.
- Did you work in software companies that do not count how many hours you work? Or is this possible only if you are a freelancer?
- Are you a 'sprinter' or a 'steady' developer? Do you practice deep work? How many hour of it are you capable of pulling off daily/weekly?
- Which compensation type do you prefer? Maybe both, depending on a case?