CXO

Techies: Overfed, overworked and overtired

Techies are eating too much, working into the night and not getting enough sleep, according to a recent survey. Is a job in IT incompatible with a healthly lifestyle?

The cliche of the coder sustained by a diet of pizza and Twinkies may not be far off the mark, if a survey of IT worker fitness is anything to go by.

IT workers need to ease up on the donuts. Photo: Shutterstock

Techies like to eat, with just over half of IT decision makers questioned saying they put away more than 2,500 calories daily. That means the majority of IT workers are eating too much, and consuming more calories each day than recommended by the Department of Health.

The culprit for techies' poor diet could be being forced to snack on the job due to their long working hours: the survey found that IT workers enjoyed an average of just 6.9 hours downtime each week.

Long working hours are a common complaint for IT workers, with comments on TechRepublic's recent article Bring Back the 40 hour week complaining of working days that stretch into the night.

IT workers' voracious appetite could also be an attempt to take on board fuel and stay awake, as the majority of those surveyed get just six hours of sleep each night.

However just because IT workers cram in the calories it doesn't mean they are losing the battle of the bulge. Those questioned spend an average of 36 minutes exercising each day, and three quarters rated themselves of above average fitness.

The survey of 250 IT decision makers was commissioned by network specialist Cisco to gauge their lifestyle choices in the run up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will get underway in London in two weeks.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

21 comments
das22
das22

Intel has gourmet healthy food and gymnasiums with personal trainers onsite. Also on-site medical and wellness services. I hear Cisco offers similar, but have not been there. Ultimately, the type of food you eat, as well as the choices you make, on any wellness issue, are up to you :)

klashbrook
klashbrook

3/4 of IT staff ranked themselves as ABOVE AVERAGE fitness ? That's comical.

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

Either the Governement needs to step in at the Federal level and get many of the IT positions that deal with operations, or continued demanding overtimes situations reclassified as non-exempt. There is a fine line in the labor laws, when a company starts dictating scheduled time/overtime then it really does not qualify as exempt status. I can not stand unionized labor these days, and I have no problem find work with my skills. However the industry needs to change, either by regulator intervention or all IT forces need to form some sort of IT specific Union to start keeping these overbearing companies only after their bottom lines in check. With some companies now forcing higher health insurance premiums for not being in premium health status, but not willing to help do what it takes to foster a healthier workplace, longer hours with less access to healthier eating at those times, stress, etc to achieve that goal then something needs to change!

anil_g
anil_g

I'd advise everyone to watch out for RSI or back problems. You don't know how bad it is until it happens to you. It can put you off work for more than a year. Get to know the ergonomics principles and apply them. Do take breaks and stretch. Don't type or mouse excessively for long periods. Don't say it won't happen to me, and don't say that's impossible to do. When you find it impossible to work you'll wish you had made it possible to take a few measly breaks. I've just started cycling to work, 1 hour each way. It's great.

mgaguilar
mgaguilar

HOW IT does what they do. As an "agnostic" business excellence professional who has worked with every business function an many industries from Engineering to HR, and now in IT, I can see the effort that IT performers give. However, operationally speaking, the way they provide their service can be overly confusing. This is usually by design. Other business functions are more likely to define their day to day business processes so they can streamline their work, sustain better business/service performance and improve work-life balance for their people. IT groups, as a whole, tend to define their function as different by "opting out" of such exercises and sticking to they way they have always done things; undefined processes, lacking performance indicators or measures that are technology centric (e.g. % systems downtime). When the way we do business is is more of a lassez faire kind of model, people work too hard and too long and those nasty "hero behaviors" become common when everything becomes an 11th hour fire drill. So I take complaints about how long IT works with a grain of salt. it is within their power to demand the same kind of discipline that their operational peers enjoy. Because at the end of the day (Knew there would be one of these right?), it is about working smarter, not harder.

jwilcxo746
jwilcxo746

I work about 50 hours per week. I make it a point to pack my lunch every day in a large carry cooler. I keep healthy snacks and eat small portions throughout the day. I workout around lunch which keeps my metabolism going in the afternon. This keeps me from needing any junk or caffeine boosts later in the day. You have to make health a priority. Saying you "don't have time" or "work doesn't allow it" is, i'm sorry, just an excuse to not put the effort in. There are alwasy options. I've had many employers and not one of them raised a complaint with regard to me working out for an hour in the middle of the day or when it fit the schedule. This assumes of course there are no emergencies. They've always been ok with this because I get my work done and often come in at 6:00 AM and work past 5:00 PM. There are a lot of jobs in IT, despite the economy. This means you have a choice to choose your employer if they're pushing you unreasonably or are choosing to remain short staffed in the long run.

Regulus
Regulus

The second word in the first paragraph ends with " ". Ok, so I went to 'View' > 'Character Encoding' and tried a bunch of alternatives with no luck. I even pasted it into Notebook++ and tried for an ascii conversion or translation - no luck. Hey! Wow!, when I saved it, the character disappeared! Anyways, it was the last letter in the word 'clich ' FYI, it don't work. Ok, yes, I know what you're trying to say here but you have to be able to print it.

necessaryevil
necessaryevil

I used to eat 2500 to 3000 calories a day and I didn't gain weight and I wasn't overweight. I also noticed several of my colleagues didn't seem to gain weight and ate as I did. So I would caution against assuming that it's always a bad thing, or that everyone who does consume that level of calories will be overweight, or that where the calories are coming from are all from poor choices. Any 'norms' about how a body processes calories or expends energy should be considered with at least a little bit of a skeptical eye. I encounter too many people who are living proof of that.

jkameleon
jkameleon

The less time techies live past their maximum exploitable age of 45, the better for IT industry and society as a whole.

scotth
scotth

Plenty of people out there looking for jobs and it's not uncommon for IT people to have the types of personalities that drive them to work excessively. Employers know this and will take advantage of it. Why hire three people and have all that overhead when you can get one person to do the same work. Burn him/her out and hire the next one.

S. Giesbrecht
S. Giesbrecht

Vixious Circle summed it up perfectly but it's even worse in the public (Government) sector

ezrydr84
ezrydr84

overworked = overtired = overeating = excessive stress = sleepless nights =overwhelmed = unhealthy = overworked = etc etc Of course we are all responsible for our own state of health regardless. When your livelihood comes from a job that requires one person to oversee 20 locations with networks, wide area network, 300 workstations, 50 laptops, mobile devices, email systems, data and phone circuits and contracts, VoIP systems, 19 servers, data storage, backups, and everything in between it becomes very difficult to be anything but a heart attack waiting to happen. Add to that management/owners who have no idea what it takes ot make all the things they rely on to work, have no idea what an IT person in the trenches has to deal with, and have no understanding of the work load and the need to be better staffed. Sadly, no matter what you read, the majority of small IT shops are understaffed, under appreciated and under valued because the people steering the ship have no clue as to what goes on under the hood. In a situation where the job stress is kiliing you it's time to move on. But how easy is that? If you're in your mid 50s, have bills to pay and a family to support the options to change careers are few. Depression and anxiety are always at the door. The job you used to love has become a danger to your health, maybe your life. Technology has made our lives better in many ways. For many of those who must make it all work and keep it working, there is a dark side.

jonathan_alvarez
jonathan_alvarez

I really like to know those guys, I don’t mean everyone is a lazy fat, in fact, most of people in the office like to be healthy (want to be perhaps) , but above the average ??? hmmm just funny

AV .
AV .

This thread is about a one IT person shop. How many days have you spent in the trenches finding out what it takes to support all of the technology that companies have today? I bet none or you wouldn't sit on your high horse and talk about corporate babble that is best left to detached executives in a corporate meeting. I think you need a team building exercise where you get to support the infrastructure of a company, by yourself, for a day. Lets see how well you do. Oh, I forgot. You have no IT experience at all, do you? Didn't see *any* in your profile. Yet you claim to know what you're talking about. The armchair IT tech. I guess you're good at making Powerpoints and coming up with slogans on vision statements for large companies with lots of staff. You even went to Toastmasters to refine your BS. Good move. You're out of your element in this thread, bud. You wouldn't last 10 minutes in this guy's job. AV PS: Love all the played out buzz words and phrases like "working smarter, not harder." People that really do the work laugh at people like you.

Portabella
Portabella

Sounds interesting, however I am unable to connect to link. HTTP 500 Internal Server Error

jonathan_alvarez
jonathan_alvarez

I don’t want to be negative, but I agree on some of your sentences, I am not older but I have a lot of friend with different ages (including more than 60). IT job in some way is getting close to a sport career. Young and healthier people get into the court every day and push the older and experienced player to move on or play harder. There are new technologies everyday coming up and so many options to choose from, tends to make you obsolete very fast or keep learning as fast as you can (at least in the development area). Options??? not to many when your resume said “more than 15 years doing the same”. Honestly, Australians have a good concept for getting older??? buy a farm and run it, live will become better (not easy but better). Or if you are lucky enough became a manager hehehe Break the vicious circle, get out of IT and grow.

AV .
AV .

Wow - you need to get yourself out of that sweatshop! I'm in much the same situation as you, but at least there is one other person where I work. It is still not enough for all the technology we have to support. While other people come in to work and start their day sipping coffee at their desk, I have to hit the ground running from the moment I get in the door. I will be 60 next year and am looking forward to retiring as soon as I can from my thankless job. I always loved my job in the past, but now that everything but the air conditioning in the building is on the network and my responsibility, it is just out of control and overwhelming. After 20 years with my current employer, I've had enough and am going to search for a new and BETTER situation that doesn't involve supporting the infrastructure of a company. I still love computers and will focus on some aspect of it instead. I have some words of advice for you. First, remember the most important thing is you and your health. Nothing else matters. If you have a heart attack, YOU are the one that will have to live with that for the rest of your life, not your employer. Don't give them that. Always take care of #1 first. Above all, eat right. You'll feel better. Bring your own, healthy food and NEVER eat at your desk for lunch. Get out of the building for at least a few minutes and clear your head. Just because you're in your 50's doesn't mean you can't find a job. Get your resume done professionally and start sending it out. Its always easier to find a new job if you have one already. If you're gray, dye that hair! Get a couple of nice interview suits and go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Never make your job more important than you and your well being. If you put your mind to thinking there is a way out of your current miserable situation, focus on that thought. Depression and anxiety may be at the door, but don't let them in. Look at all the fabulous experience you have and use that as a way to find a better job that isn't slave labor. There are jobs out there even if you're older and even in this economy. Theres a song I always think of when I'm down in the dumps and its a real oldie. Here is part of the lyrics: Nothing's impossible I have found, For when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, Dust myself off, Start All over again. AV

DesertJim
DesertJim

Imagine a violin, imagine me playing it..... I've been in this job since 1977, have bills and a family. However it was my choice to be where I am now. I could have changed role when times were good if I'd wanted to. I don't blame middle age spread on my job, stress or anything else, other than my diet and exercise choices. All of this can be changed if you want to.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

It isn't always as easy as you seem to suggest to change your job, particularly once the good times are gone. In many IT jobs there are factors way outside of your control so no, you can't always change 'all of this' if you want to. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones not trapped in circumstances that are currently beyond your control and find it hard to imagine that there may be genuine situations where a member of staff cannot change an aspect of their life (yet). A lot of the time you have to manage a bad situation as best as you can precisely because you can't change things or lack the control you need to eliminate the issue altogether. Incidentally, just because we chose IT as a field to work within it doesn't mean you have to be unsympathetic to the fact that some IT workers are overworked, stressed and working overlong hours. And where exactly does the article or previous post state that getting fatter in middle age is a direct result of your IT job? Although it's fair to say I appear to have reacted strongly I do get where you're coming from - I just think a measure of empathy may be missing and wanted to make the point that it's not always as easy as your post makes it sound. I certainly can agree that if you do find yourself unhappy with your life, heath, job, you should certainly seek to change things to suit you (and this may mean simply leaving your job and finding employ elsewhere). We're only here once and life is short enough as it is.

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