Tech employees in China work, eat and sleep at the office

China's technology sector is booming and many startup firms can't hire staff fast enough, forcing workers to burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines.

Burgeoning tech sector demands long days and nights from skilled workers

China has long been known as a country with a surplus of cheap labour, but as startup firms in the midst of a technology boom grasp for staff, skilled workers are increasingly burning the midnight oil — and sleeping at the office — in order to meet deadlines.

Ma Zhenguo (below), a system engineer at a credit management company in Beijing, sleeps in the office after pulling an all-nighter.

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

Sleeping your way to the top.

Some companies, like cloud-computing firm BaishanCloud, provide sleeping areas for workers. Here, engineers Wu Binbin (on the bottom bunk) and Chen Huiyang take an after-lunch nap in one of a dozen bunk beds installed in their office. 

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

Dai Xiang, 40, the co-founder of BaishanCloud, got his start pulling 72-hour shifts at a machinery company while catching naps on the floor. After a switch to the tech industry 15 years ago, Dai hung his own shingle in 2015, and one of his first orders of business was to install bunks. 

"For technology, it's more of a brain activity. Workers need time to find inspiration," Dai said. "Our rest area isn't just for sleeping at night, the midday is also OK," he said in an interview with Reuters in April. This is Zhang Kun, an employee at BaishanCloud, enjoying a period of stillness during a pre-lunch yoga session in the office.

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

The U.S. 'isn't as intense as China.'

"The pace of Chinese internet company growth is extremely fast. I've been to the U.S. and the competitive environment there isn't as intense as in China," said Cui Meng, general manager and co-founder of startup data company Goopal. Below, Meng sleeps at his desk in his company's Beijing office, and co-worker Yu Xiaojian slurps a midnight snack.

(Jason Lee/Reuters)
(Jason Lee/Reuters)

Some tech sector employees live at the office.

While Goopal's programmers work overtime every day, Cui said, they do eventually go home. That is not the case for everyone at recruitment and human resources firm DouMiYouPin. 

Liu Zhanyu, who heads the company's "large clients" department, bunks down in a converted conference room Monday to Friday to avoid the daily commute to his home in Beijing's far eastern suburbs. Here he washes up after another long shift. 

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

The cost of doing business takes its toll on families.

Workers say the potential payoff of working at a startup is worth the long hours, but it comes at a cost.

Liu, at DouMiYouPin, said his three-year-old misses him. "I get home and he lunges at me like a small wolf," said Liu, who sees his son only on weekends. "That makes me feel a bit guilty."

Below, Han Liqun, an HR manager at RenRen Credit Management, camps out at the office after finishing work early one morning.

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

'I don't have many opportunities to find a girlfriend.'

Programmer Xiang Shiyang, 28, works until 3 or 4 a.m. at least twice a week at RenRen, which uses big data to help firms manage financial risk, leaving little room to socialize. Despite the sacrifices, Xiang said he was content because, for now, he has "the whole of his being" invested in the company.

(Jason Lee/Reuters)