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Are all IT Staff doomed to Information Overload and Burnout?

By crisp ·
So I've been working at the same company for 5 years now, managing the IT infrastructure as the System Admin, Security Admin, Deployment Planner, Research person, Network Person and a whole range of other job roles that I don't care to mention.

I'm 27 years old now. Just over 2 years ago, the company I'm at went through some changes, which included a management buyout, moving away from being a subsidiary of a global multinational,(with hundereds of internation IT staff available for help),to a local owned and operated independent company.

With these changes came a huge change in my responsibilities and requirements for my job role.
Also during the change negotiations many people left fearing job cuts and other problems, my boss, and I were left from the original 4 people.

The new company required a complete revamp of its IT infrastructure, as being the far away blip on a multinationals screen does not lend itself to high IT budgets but rather hand me down hardware from all over the world.

It started with new domain registrations, New Lotus Domino Mail Infrastructure on new Servers, then went to Active Directory Rollout, New Antivirus and Firewalls, new internet service providers and upgraded network devices. Hard to believe, but completed single handed by myself and maintained till this day :-)?

Novell gone :-( M$ in... New SQL based ERP system, which was implemented over a 8 months by consultants which only worked on the ERP package and not the back end servers and SQL, that was left to me. Software Update Service, Trend Officescan, Serverprotect and Scanmail for Domino, Windows XP rollout and migration, Lotus Notes upgrades and setups, Terminal Servers and Test Environments for the ERP, LTO Tape drives and Arcserve Backups, Media Pools and off site tape storage. All the best practices harvested during hours and hours of late nights reading and learning, till the point when one's brain can't take any more.

At first I was happy to do this as it was a "new" company, and I was getting great experience doing this from scratch, plus I could finally install everything the Vulcan way, logically, in a way it made sense and had longevity. So I did it.

We then started with the first VPN remote office in another part of the country, then the second, 3, 4, 5, and soon time for me to fly internationally to set up a sales office overseas. We are 5 IT staff now including the IT manager, a System Analyst for the ERP and 2 support staff and myself.

Today there is VoIP, Spyware and Adware, Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, PDA's !!!! Terminal services for the remote offices, URL filters to stop people accessing porn all day, antivirus updates from Trend the totally f*cked my entire network on a Saturday because of poorly tested pattern files... and the list keeps growing and growing. Average users skill sets are slipping further and further away from technology being advertised. Blackberries on TV one night and on my desk the next with the “I heard you can get e-mail on one of these..." Policies and procedures that are out of date before I've completed them, and Sarbanes Oxley and DRP and System Recovery Procedures.

This leads me to one thing, one problem, which I can’t find an answer for in this borderless job field. How we are going to avoid burnout I have now idea, no one can continue like this for too long, but it’s not stopping. Are we all doomed to suffer from this, with our unclear roles increased responsibilities, ever incomplete knowledge? I can't see how one can continue amassing huge amounts of information, just be up to date enough, or secure enough to do your daily job...

New technologies are being developed every day, and it does not take too long to hit the mainstream, there are new security flaws and considerations daily. Open source, closed source, tomato sauce…
So now that the data center has been rebuilt, with raised floors and Pyroshield gas, UPS’s and Rack based servers, which are totaling nearly 24, and hundreds of pc’s and 5 WAN offices with 2 Warehouses. There is so much more I can’t even bring myself to type it.
Just the content on the current home page of techrepublic would keep a decent, motivated admin busy for weeks…Unfortunately, I’ve lost my motivation.
Where are we going to end up? I imagine it is somewhere between firefighters and 'crisps'.

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We all need a vacation!

by Why Me Worry? In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

I could certainly use one in which I could take off an entire year and not be bothered.

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by jbaker In reply to We all need a vacation!

I am about 18 months back from a 2 year vacation. Would have been great if it had been a paid vacation, but it gets really hard when it is unpaid.

Be thankful for the steady paychack, and keep your skillset as up to date as possible, learn as much as possible, and take your joy where you can get it. No one ever said this job was going to be easy!

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Same boat

by IT_Lobo In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

I have been working for this company for a year now and I am starting to burn out.

I do alot of what you do. Net Admin, Database, Admin, Web Admin, Phone System Admin, Help Desk, Security Manager, and much more for 50 Work stations, 4 servers in 3 locations going to be 4 by the end of the summer. The real problem is, I AM THE ONLY ONE IN MY DEPARTMENT. I can't take a day off, I have taken 2, but recieved many phone calls from work I don't count them. I work nights from home and about 3-4hrs on Sat and Sun. Every other department with in the last year has double+ in size.

The company wont hire me help because I am getting the work done, late, but done. I am also badly under paid. For my area I am getting about 1/2 of what I should be.

I guess I will see my wife and kids at graduation or even the divorce hearing.

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Stop the insanity!

by Dr Dij In reply to Same boat

leave some low prio tasks undone, basically forever if there's higher prios.
let them know certain lo prio things won't get done as you need helper.

and leave after a certain # of hours.


forget weekends.
if they call you on weekend, say you'll deal with it monday.
be willing to work OT on weekends only if emergency, and only if
1) you take comp day off in week
or
2) you get paid OT for hours over 40 or 8/day

remember, you get as much s*** as you'll take
you won't get burnout if you try to enjoy life outside of work. otherwise what is the point?
you're like a hamster on a treadmill

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No more same boat.

by terere_99 In reply to Same boat

we are working hard doing "whatever" we know, just to justify our knowlegde, but not considering the load of job we are taking over us.
We have to learn to say "stop" I wont do this, becuase it "takes" time, not because I dont know. And let other people, company or whatever do that job. otherwise we will see our lives passing over the Montitor Screen, like a ScreenSaver.

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Been there - better now

by ederkley In reply to Same boat

I was the only IT person in my department for a couple of years and got similarly burnt-out.

Even with a relationship with an external IT support company (not an SLA tho - too expensive) the department was not able to get the support they really wanted.

Eventually, of course, they created a second IT position and this has worked out very well for everybody.

That said, the first two or three months of bringing the new guy up to speed just about killed me. He wasn't slow or anything, there was just so much stuff to cover but everyone expected twice the performance straight away because the company had just invested all this money in a new position.

A year and a half down the track and we're doing much better. We've both managed to take training and extended leave.

Justifications for having a second person obviously included backup skills available onsite, but also the ability to develop proper policies for the office, conduct staff training in-house, pro-actively monitor the network to provide better performance and bring forward projects that were going to take a long time to implement with just one person.

The only advice I have for crisp and IT_Lobo and others in these positions are that if they are starting to feel burnt-out and can't take leave without being hassled, then it's time to get a second person in.

Failing that and you can't take the (admittedly intense) heat, find a healthier kitchen.

Take this from someone with personal experience.

G'luck

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The Key....

by Roger99a In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

We all get that at some time. Here's how I deal with it. They pay me to work 40 hours a week. That's all. I will work more if something breaks. It has to be an emergency. I will work on the weekend occasionally only if it's something that I can't do during production hours. I don't want a 60+ hour a week job, so I don't have one. If you have one and it's not what you negotiated then it's your own fault. You're taking it too personally. If you can't get everything that they want done in your normal work hours then they need to get some more help. It's bad planning anyway. What's supposed to happen during an emergency? If the staff doesn't have time to do it's normal work how can it deal with a 3 day emergency?
It's your life. The company doesn't own you, they rent you for 40 hours each week. And get a hobby. Something that has nothing to do with computers.

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Right on!

by Dr Dij In reply to The Key....

I couldn't have said it better.

Hobbies can include family, gal friends, enjoying the outdoors, anything that rocks your boat.

I do some digital photography, and while I use the computer for parts, it is unrelated to work. And I have to get out to take the pix.

Fitness is good, don't get obsessive with it tho. Walk around the park, bike, pump a little iron, do pushups, etc. Gals like it and you can kick *** of people who want you to work 80 hours.

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Wisdom ...

by Black Panther In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

?That they lose their health to make money...
and then lose their money to restore their health.?

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Don?t work harder work smarter!

by Kam-73 In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

Don?t work harder work smarter! Have you considered outsourcing some of the processes?

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