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Do you <i>want</i> your employees to feel obligated to work 24/7?

By Beth Blakely ·
I got a press release by email this morning from the Info-Tech Research Group. (www.infotech.com) The London-Ontario based group did an onsite survey that asked respondents to define "if they feel no obligation, somewhat obligated, obligated or absolutely obligated to be available to their employer virtually 24/7."
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"A whopping 81 percent of employees feel obligated ? at least to some degree ? to be available to their employers 24/7. Only 19 per cent of respondents said they feel no obligation whatsoever to be available for work all the time."
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I have to think that people feel this way for one of two reasons:
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A. They're a "Type A" personality and just can't let go, or,<br>
B. Their employers are perpetuating this standard in some way.
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Do you feel this way? Or more to the point, are you <i>made</i> to feel this way by your employer? If so, what are the tactics/subtle pressure used to encourage 24/7-work-mode?
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As a manager, do you encourage your reports to keep in constant contact with the office? If not, how do you ensure that your employees don't get "burnout"?

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yes, but...

by waity85 In reply to Do you <i>want</i> your e ...

I also work for a 24x7 shop so its kind of expected. However we cover 24x7 on a pro rota basis and I do to some degree try to stay accessible when I'm off-call, 'just in case'.

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Want my honest opinion

by JamesRL In reply to Do you <i>want</i> your e ...

Many people who want to be in 24/7 contact haven't learned to plan. They would rather do things on the fly and off the cuff. That goes both for certain managers and for certain employees.

I DO NOT want all employees to be available 24/7. I have some who are widely available and frankly I wonder about burnout and the impact on productivity. I insist that if we have a pager, oen person carries for a week, and that one person should not use the others unless its an emergency. We rotate pagers,we all have cells.

I encourage my employees to make good decisions. Its rare that they can't make a decision on their own and require my input after hours. They know my preferences and attitude, thats all they need. I trust they will do the right thing.

I expect employees to manage their own time. I track their overtime, but don't usually question it or micromanage it. If I see someone working excessive OT on an ongoing basis we will talk.

James

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24x7 requirement

by mpasaa In reply to Want my honest opinion

Personally, I don't like the concept of making people feel that they have to be available at all hours of the day & night.

Yes, in IT things stop working at any hour but that is where a company should determine how this is best handled. Once in a while is expected and everyone IT agrees to that I think. This attitude becomes a problem when it is a daily/weekly expectation and for things that are not necessarily mission critical.

If the environment is truly 24x7 (and I question that assumption in many cases) then companies need to spend the money on fully redundant systems. It is irresponsible to implement critical systems with no fault tolerance these days. Clustering, Load balancing duplicate hardware, multiple data paths in/out of company, etc. are available for a reason--use these technologies instead of relying on someone to be available who may or may not be at any given moment.

Also, if there is truly that much to do after hours, on weekends, and any other oddball time then perhaps those companies need to hire a night shift person specifically to do those tasks that are not possible during business hours (or restructure their IT and create a shift-work atmosphere)?

Food for thought...later

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Very well put!

by Server Queen In reply to 24x7 requirement

Emphatic agreement on all points!

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I agree totally mpasaa

by w2ktechman In reply to 24x7 requirement

Well written

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While I totally agree

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to 24x7 requirement

Unfortunately people are cheaper than Redundant Hardware and Lines.

It's far easier to pull in people that it is to implement redundant architecture and have several different methods of communication when one goes down.

Management looks at it this way I can pay $X for the proper hardware configuration or I can pay $X - $Y and have my employees on constant call with out extra cost. Of course it is Accountants who run these companies and they always manage to stuff up what should be a perfectly simple system with cost cutting second rate hardware that is prone to faults and then expect their staff to keep it running.

One place that I went into recently boasted that they had fully redundant T1 lines which all came from the same provider so when that provider had a problem all 4 T1 connections where down. To me this isn't a form of redundancy but stupidity and they went this way because it was cheaper.

Col

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On call

by mjd420nova In reply to Do you <i>want</i> your e ...

In this line of work, we have many customers who require 24\7 support. We tackle this problem by assigning a tech to a week of ON CALL duty, running Monday to Monday. This consists of a kit of parts for those specific users and their specific equipment. The duty starts at 6PM and runs to 6AM. If the tech was called out on a particular call in the middle of the night, he is allowed to subtract that time from his daily duties, if they want. Most are dedicated and will still start at the regular 7AM start time. The weekends are the busiest and in most cases, the only time they get called out. The field techs have laptops and wireless hookups to get and clear calls without having to CALL in to the dispatch. That way we know where each one is and where they're headed, where they've been. They can also check stock part inventories and even what parts other techs may have and where they are. Care must be taken that those on call are capable of dealing with the sites and the equipment at those sites. Nothings worse than having to send a tech first thing in the morning to clear a call that someone has worked all night on.

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Most are dedicated...

by Beth Blakely In reply to On call

You said, "Most are dedicated and will still start at the regular 7AM start time" even if they were called out in the middle of the night. If someone chooses to subtract those hours, aren't they then thought of as "not dedicated"? And isn't that penalizing them via the culture you've created?

Shouldn't the management insist that the hours are subtracted to ensure that the employee isn't too tired to drive (safety!) and not getting burned out? Surely there are enough people to handle the load. And if there aren't, isn't it the company's responsibility to hire enough bodies?

I'm not saying this is the case in your workplace, but I've seen this type of situation become an abusive cycle for employees.

Or, is it a case of "we told you what to expect and we're paying you enough to do the job?" I think if an employer is honest about the realities of long shifts, etc. then it can be a fair situation, especially if the pay is good enough.

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That is the danger, we want to reward extra effort

by royhayward In reply to Most are dedicated...

But we also need to set expectations at an intentionally realisting level.

I am a new manager of 7 months. Before that in my team I have been in an on-call 24/7/356 position for 5 years. Sometimes the team had more than one person, and we rotated the "hot seat" on week long terms, other times it was just me for months at a time.

I have experienced burnout, and had to deal with it and get back in the sadle. I have watched teammates quit and move on in response to the workload and expectations. The response to that from the upper levels, say just below the "C" ring, is "Well, looks like we are getting rid of the dead wood."

Now that I am a manager, I am trying to make life better for my former collegues that now work for me. I can't overcome the company culture by myself, so we have a program where one day a week, each of us on a different day, will work from home. Thus giving us a chance to see our families while they are awake. I am actively looking for other ways to off set the hours.

In a way my team has done this to ourselves. We are the survivors of several mergers and are here still as a result of being able to out produce the other business units with fewer resouces. But we are all aware that this may have secured our jobs, but has created an expectation that can't be met in 40 hrs a week.

Wow, this sounds way more depressing than I feel about it. My question is, what other ways can I make life better for my guys? Any creative programs out there?

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TAKE ROY's ADVICE...

by compootergeek In reply to That is the danger, we wa ...

The "one day at home" rotation, is one of the best ideas I've heard yet. It's a change that can occur 'unnoticed' to companie$ with "an unusual culture"....and it sounds like your staff appreciate you. Just by being some one that will ask "what else can I do ?", you are a good manager, the MAIN SUPPORTER of the team! You exercise your authority well!

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