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Tech Workers In China's Silicon Valley Face Burnout Before They Reach 30


bike-sharing ad in Beijing subway

He is so focused on keeping his start-up alive that he can't sleep at night. She was asked in an interview if she would be willing to break up with her boyfriend for the job. A young couple want their own family but have no energy for sex after work.

These are some of the struggles faced by the hundreds of thousands of young workers in China's tech industry like Yu Haoran, a 26-year-old computer science major, who in 2014 founded Jisuanke, a start-up in Beijing's hi-tech Zhongguancun district to teach kids coding.

Yu has worked nights and weekends to grow his business from a 10-coder team to one with a 200 million yuan (US$29.8 million) valuation thanks to venture capital backing. But the personal price he pays is chronic insomnia, sometimes getting just two hours of sleep every night.

"I haven't really thought of living a life," Yu said, referring to his entrepreneurial existence. "Because I'm building something, and before I finish it, there won't be anything else on my mind."

Tech firms in China typically expect their employees to work long hours to prove their dedication. That means a so-called 996 schedule: 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

Zhongguancun-based ByteDance, which runs the popular short video app TikTok, has eased that a bit by introducing a "big/small week" policy, where most of its 6,000 employees work a six-day week every second week.

In China's tech industry, young employees and entrepreneurs constantly battle burnout at work, while worrying about bigger things like career ceilings, lay-offs, and a sexist work environment.

From South China Morning Post
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