The Holiday Challenge

It seems as though I’ve seen many protests and complaints this past holiday season about the extra hours the some retailers were requiring of employees. It started in the US just before Thanksgiving with protests about some stores opening on Thanksgiving day, and it continued through the Christmas season as a few brick and mortar companies decided to stay open 24 hours a day until the holiday.
For most of us that work in technology, the holidays can be a mixed blessing. We could have a slow time, as other people in the office work less and make less demands of us. We could also be more busy as the slow times mean opportunities for maintenance or enhancements. I’ve even had extremely busy times as we worked the New Year’s holiday to get applications ready for use on Jan 1.
There was a survey recently and a report that said many IT people don’t get a break during the holidays. They find themselves on call, or responding over the holidays when things break. I’ve certainly experienced this, especially when managers have viewed holidays as a perfect time to take systems down that are otherwise being used heavily by our business. I suspect that much of the impact to IT depends on your particular business and how your systems are used during holidays. If you work at Amazon, I wouldn’t expect to have holidays off.
The one thing that the survey mentioned people wanted to see changed most was a reduction in the amount of fire-fighting that they perform. It’s no fun when things are permanently broken, and even less fun when you respond to the same issue over and over without actually fixing something once. I certainly have found myself looking for other employment when the amount of fire-fighting time exceeds the amount of enhancement time.
I hope that the holidays were not too stressful or busy for you, and you have a bit of a break. If not, perhaps it’s time to think about how you might want to change things for next year.
Steve Jones

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