Monday, November 17, 2008
Recipe for Burnout
Last week a colleague told me about a talk she attended that was given by a guy who works at one of China's most successful Internet portals, Sina.com.
It was founded in 1999 and its parent company Sina Corporation is listed on the Nasdaq.
As it collates news, Sina.com does not provide any original stories, instead posting the latest articles or pictures.
According to this Sina.com staffer, their work on the Internet site is literally non-stop. They have to update the front page with fresh stories -- every three minutes.
That means staring constantly at the computer screen to pick up anything new. Anything.
Office rules are also that bathroom breaks can't be longer than five minutes. If a staffer is not at his or her desk to answer your phone, he or she will be fined a certain amount of yuan. So they have to make sure they carry their cellphone with them while they do their business.
This guy explained when he and his wife recently had a baby, he couldn't have the phone ringer on too loudly to wake the child. So to make sure he was available for every possible phone call, he slept with an earphone on to hear the phone ring.
He added that previously they looked at applicants who had good English skills and had journalism experience; but now they prefer candidates who seem to have a clean bill of health.
While Sina.com has about 94.8 million users worldwide with the third highest traffic in China, it is by all means a successful site.
But it sounds like people working there could burn out quickly working in a factory that is constantly churning out the latest news.
If all employees do there is copy and past news onto the site, it seems like sheer boredom with unnecessary stress thrown in for good measure.
Hardly the adrenalin-filled newsrooms that Western media are familiar with.