Are you 996 or 955?

What the heck is 955 and 996?

In case you don’t know, these are two common working schedules.

If you’re in corporate world, you should be familiar with the terms “9 to 5”, “9-5” or “955”. It simply means you go to work from 9 a.m to 5 p.m, 5 days a week.

That schedule has been there for long time and used by most companies out there. It’s a schedule designed to let us have “work-life” balance. It gives us enough time to work and to live our life.

In short, it’s recognized as a standard working hour.

okay so what about “996”?

You can guess right? Yeah, you work from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. and…. 6 days a week.

Really? Yeah, really.

You may ask where the hell on earth people work like that?

12 hours a day, 6 days a week? No, thank you.

These days people talk about work-life balance or work smart rather than work hard. “966” sounds so counter-intuitive.

So where does 996 come from?

To be honest, I don’t know who coined the term or what company first applied that working hour but it went viral after Jack Ma publicly endorsed that schedule for his company and hi-tech company.

In case you don’t know, Jack Ma is CEO, co-founder of Alibaba group. He’s famous for being a self-made billionaire and inspirational quotes. He has been recently retired but you know who I’m talking about right?

According to Jack Ma, workers should consider 996 “a huge blessing” to “achieve the success one wants without paying extra effort and time”

or “if you want to work for me, please ready to work for 12 hours a day”

He even mentioned that in one of his sales pitch in 1999:

“Ok wait, I’m not Jack Ma’s fan” you may say.

It’s fine. I’m not either 🙂 …but who cares. There are millions, even billion people out there are willing to do whatever he says.

When Jack Ma, CEO of one of the biggest hi-tech companies in the world, says something, it’ll create big influence. Unsurprisingly, more and more Chinese tech companies, especially start-ups, start practicing this working schedule. However, in my opinion, these companies start adopting “996” not just because it’s endorsed by Jack Ma, but it’s more because they see the real values behind it.

Why 966 work works?

While I’m not Jack Ma’s fan or kinda workaholic, strangely I see that 996 working makes sense. In fact, it believe it fits well for below cases:


In start-ups, there are tons of thing need to be done and to be done fast. As an employee in such company, you’re asked to devote all your efforts into the work. Needless to say, if that’s your business (or you feel like that), you’re willing to work around the clock not just 996.

Developing countries

If you’re living in a developing countries, it’s recommended to work in 996 schedule.

Why? It’s simple. You’ll have to work harder to earn the living and take care your family (if you have one). Don’t try to compare with developed countries with developed economy and living standard.

You’re young and…new

When you are young, it’s also ok to work like that.

Why? Because you have a lot of energy to do that. You may be not having a family, kids to take care. This is especially true if you’re very new in your career path or this is your first job. In these cases, working hard is perfectly fine and recommended.


Not so many people can find their passions in their daily work but when you’re passionate about your work, working hard is natural. It’s so natural that you don’t feel like you’re working. You just follow your passion, do the work and get things done.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life-Unknown

In general, 966 schedule works well when “work” is your number one priority.

Why 996 is not a good idea?

While I see reasons why people choose to work 996, I also understand why people don’t like it.

Reduced productivity

I used to work long hour and I realized that even though I could do the work and completed the task, the quality of the work was reduced significantly when working late. I was not so as productive when working late as compared earlier hours of the day.

Your health (physical and mental)

This sounds so obvious because I haven’t heard of any research saying that working long hour is good for your health.

There are several other problems caused by working long hours but these are the most critical ones to me. Actually Lifehack list out 10 reasons for us to stop working long hour.

Which one is better? 996 or 955?

For me, it’s not the matter of which ones is better. It’s more about the quality of your work.

If you devote all your effort during the working time and bring out the best output, it doesn’t matter if you work 4 hours, 6 hours or 12 hours a day. You are doing well. Of course, if you’re doing very well and you’d like to go extra miles to get more success, you surely can work extra hours as long as you feel good to do that.

The last thing you’d like to do is to do the work you hate and work for 12 hours a day, 6 days per week. If that happens occasionally, it’s okay but if that happens for months or years, it really sucks. You’re simply ruining yourself.

The exceptions

955 or 996 are the common working hour patterns but I’m sure they are not the only ones. I’m sure somewhere on earth people work much more longer hours a day. They don’t even care or care to know about the working hours because they have to work to earn the living.

At the other end, there are companies they work less than 8 hours a day and they are still having good life. Recently, Microsoft Japan tried with 4-day work week (still have 5 day pay check) and they recorded a 40% boost of productivity.

Final thought

I’ve just shared with you my opinion about the “996” and “955” working schedule. To be honest, there’s no best working schedule. The best working working schedule is the one that fit your life.

If a working schedule works for you, keep doing that. If it’s not, make a change either by changing schedule or…change company.

Whatever you choose to do, the bottom line is to do (or to find) the work you love or at least you like it enough to do the work professionally.

Side note: Not long time ago after Jack Ma’s controversial talk about blessing 12 hour working schedule, Jack Ma clarified his statement to avoid misunderstanding or misuse:

“If we find things we like, 996 is not a problem. If you don’t like [your work], every minute is torture”.

I’m done with my post. Now, what’s your opinion about 955 and 996 working schedule? what’s your favorite working hours? Please drop your comment below.

1 Comment

  1. Nishi

    LOL, smug Jack Ma eventually ran afoul of the communist Chinese government. Karma bites you hard in the ass, doesn’t it, Jack?

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