IT Policies

Ten ways to ensure that you finish work on time

Working life is about surviving the 9 to 5 and making sure that there is some of you left for the next day.

In these times of financial uncertainty, there is a lot of pressure to work longer and longer hours and to be seen doing so. With the added pressures of working life, it is more important than ever to maintain a good work / life balance. Mr. Gates himself hit the nail on the head when he said that we should work smarter, not harder.

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1. Ensure that you learn from your calls when it looks as though a situation is developing that may have repercussions on service and alert the right people in plenty of time to get a resolution.

2. Make sure that you complete an entry for the knowledge base so that the next person to get the same call doesn’t work it out from scratch again.

3. Make sure that the users understand the help desk opening hours. If you are a shift-based team, make sure that people arrive on time for their shifts.

4. Ensure that you deal with calls effectively. If you can’t resolve them immediately, arrange a call back and do some research; don’t keep guessing with the caller on the line.

5. Cut out the unnecessary chatter. A lot of time is lost on help desk calls discussing the weather and last night’s football game. A certain amount of pleasantry is good for breaking the ice and putting the caller at ease, but it can go too far. One of the greatest help desk soft skills is taking control of the call and getting the job done.

6. Don’t feel guilty about finishing at your appointed time. If your employer signs a contract showing your working hours, then those are the hours you should work. Some employers frown upon people who keep to their hours, but remember that they buy a certain number of hours of your time. If you went into a supermarket and paid for eight bottles of beer, you would not take twelve, because if you did you would be stealing. You could buy twelve if you wanted twelve. If your boss wanted you to work ten hours instead of eight, he could agree to hire you for those hours.

7. Organize your day so that the urgent stuff gets done first, leaving the later part of the day for the routine stuff, which can be left if you run out of time. There’s nothing worse than starting a vital task that you know is going to take you into your own time.

8. Start on time. This means starting work at the contracted time, not just being in the building. Twenty minutes spent drinking tea or yacking about Manchester United or the latest episode of the Simpsons may be good for getting to know your colleagues but isn’t getting any work done. In the past I have found that the ones who waste time like this are the ones who feel that they have to put in extra hours. A 9 a.m. start means that at 9 a.m. you are at your desk, logged in, and ready to take support calls. You can be sure that there is someone out there waiting for the clock to chime before they dial the number.

9. Some people think that the boss will be impressed by seeing you stay late. A good boss will not be fooled by this and will be more interested in finding out why you aren’t getting your work done in the allotted time. I wouldn’t want to work for the kind of boss who was impressed by a bit of unpaid overtime.

10. A recent survey showed that the longer you stay at work the more your efficiency declines. There is even a school of thought that states that, rather than work longer, you should reduce your hours. The theory goes that after six hours you cease to be of any real benefit. I’ve found this to be true; some days I get more done in half a day than I sometimes achieve in a full day.

11 comments
Chief-Tiff
Chief-Tiff

Love the idea just can't execute the plan. We have an employee agreement that says for our fixed salary, we will work reasonable overtime. Trouble is there is no definition of "Reasonable"!!

Level
Level

I used to work late all the time, but not since I starting commuting by bus (11 years ago). It's the only strategy that works for me, and it works 99% of the time. It's simple. The bus or light rail runs on schedule, so I do also.

kevaburg
kevaburg

For those of us professioanlly employed as IT Support in any capacity, there really is no such thing as 9 to 5. Out of hours work is the norm (can't bring the network to a grinding halt now can I?). I start at 0730 (after a 1 hour journey to work) and finish at 1530 (can't break the EU 10 hour work day now can I). 1500 users, 4 database servers, 3 AD DC's, 2 Exchange Servers and a multitude of other goodies don't work 9 to 5. Neither can I. Although if you have any positions going where you work I can get my CV ready...........

Eric Hall
Eric Hall

Common Sense but a timely and salient reminder. A conscience never hurts.

ssjcutler
ssjcutler

Never in my experience of 30yrs do you start at 09.00 and finish at 17.00...its a dynamic fire fighting environment sometimes. I expect my teams to work beyond 17.00 and get in before 09.00 if thats what the business demands, however, I also give them plenty of flexibility on coming in later, leaving earlier, longer lunch breaks, work from home days when deliveries are due, so its all give and take. You can't organise your day always, something always happens which just blows a hole right through it and you have to deal with it, you just can't say, it's 17.00 now, see you tomorrow!

chris.pratt
chris.pratt

In my experience (45 years operations) you are extremely lucky if you don't start till 09.00hr However all Jeffs comments are perfectly valid and I follow most of them. Especially the reduced hours making one more effective. Of course you never stop mentally working if you are any good in our business, blinding revelations in the middle of the night are especially common.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Ok, so I always leave somewhere between 5 and 5:20. Does that count? My workplace has staff 24 hours a day, and IT is here from 8-5 only with staff on call for mission critical apps. Everything runs smooth IF we function as a team and there is rarely overtime involved on anyone's part. Scheduled large scale upgrades would be an exception, of course. I should be quiet. It is my week on call. Now that I made the "very little overtime" statement, I'm destined to be called in all night. :)

zenful6219
zenful6219

Sometimes it does seem like just being in the building at start time is more important than actually working, and it amazes me how much time is spent by workers talking about non-work-related subjects. In some workplaces, it seems that getting to know coworkers has a higher priority than actually providing customer support. In fact, I find that those that waste the most time "yacking it up" with a coworker, especially the local "expert", can have a better chance of getting that person's assistance than one who doesn't.

jim
jim

What you are really saying mate, it depends upion the line of business you are in and the type of commodities you are handling. Communications can be of a varied type situational thing dependent upon type of "Operational Systems". Satellite Communications systems would be handled one way, whereas an IT network would be handled another, and a telephone Network another way. It all depends up the peculiar environment of that particular system you are working in. I know, for I have been there and done that in many different systems for different Agencies and Companies. Each has its way and methods... so you go with the flow. But this Author has nailed it in reality the way things should be if all is working right. I agree with him. Jim Holland President, Holland Signal, Inc.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Keeping your customers happy is very important. IMO, it is just as important as doing your actual job. I can't tell you how many technically brilliant techs I've seen never advance in their careers because they had the personality of a rock. They show up, get the job done and leave with no useless chit chat. Then they get upset when they see other less technically adept people advance. These are also the same guys that look at me like I'm a lazy bum for going home between 5 and 5:15 religiously. I'm sorry, but I don't feel that anyone should work beyond 8 hours a day on a regular basis. It's ridiculous, bad employee management and over bearing to expect it on a daily basis. I also feel that coworkers shouldn't be treated as numbers. Let's face it, where we work is a large part our lives. We may as well get along with those around us. But then again that is my opinion and everyone is entitled to one. I refuse to go to lunch with 1/3 of my IT staff because they never talk anything but shop. There is more to life than IT. On my one stinking hour away during my 8 hour work day, I want to hear something other than IT or company bs.

mike
mike

I've been in this business for 14 years now as a PC tech. For 10 of those years I have worked for my self out of my home/shop. I do a lot of on site service and some in shop. In the last couple years I have started using a remote system to resolve issues when possible. I'd give anything to hear how anyone else in my position could possibly work 9 to 5. Frankly if I don;t work 12 to 14 hours a day, I'll get backed up really bad. Oh and please don;t suggest hiring someone, if I could hire someone that had the skills to lighten the load I assure you they would be working for them selves as well. Thanks.

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