March 10th, 2023
You're entitled to a certain quality of life that ensures you're safe, healthy, and fairly compensated. Let's talk about how employers must ensure this standard is met.
I want to touch on a few key points that I feel you should know about before you get a new job in technology. These aren't hard, fast rules, but they are food for thought:
We're not going to talk about wages. That's a major topic that we'll talk about at a later date. For now, let's focus on the not sure obvious.
OK, so let's break each of these down and explore them, with an aim to understand what the pit falls can be and some red flags to watch out for.
When you're on-call, you're expected to respond outside of normal operational hours, which tend to be 9-5, Monday to Friday. This is common practice in the industry as IT systems need to be kept running 24/7. What's not common, or acceptable, however, is being on-call for more than a one week period of time. Let me tell you a story.
One time a colleague came into work and as they were approaching their desk, I noticed they were sweating and out of breath. I asked if they were OK, and then responded with this bombshell:
No. No it's not funny. It turns out they had been on-call for three months straight. That's never acceptable, especially when it leads to a hospital visit and serious long term health implications.
If you're asked to ever go on-call, ensure it's very clear you will not work beyond one-week, especially if the number of calls you receive is frequent. Instead, speak with your supervisor and ensure they understand your physical and emotional health are important and must be respected.
And remember this: it's your employer's responsibility to hire more people in the event you have to work unreasonable on-call hours.
So you've taken some time off (good!) and we're enjoying a bit of Netflix when the boss calls. Here's what you do: ignore the call, unless...
There are times when taking the call is valid. For example, if you've taken time off but agreed that being available to take calls is important, then absolutely take the call - you did agree, after all. If, however, you've made it clear (in writing) that you will not be accepting calls outside whilst on leave - especially if it's sick leave - then you're to ignore the call.
Ultimately, if you're away from work for a specific reason: to be away from work. It should not come back into your (personal) life because the organisation is facing a crises (there are some exceptions.)
And now we come to a topic I wouldn't consider discussing if it weren't 2023 and COVID19 had never happened. I think you might know what I'm going to say.
Working from home is basically a must. You should expect to be allowed to work from home a minimum of two days per week. It most cases, three.
It has been clearly demonstrated that working from home provides incredible benefits (and let's not ignore the fact it also comes with problems.) Those benefits are something you should be entitled to enjoy, and the (potential) problems are also yours to overcome however you see fit, if you experience them at all.
In 2023, working from home is easy, possible, and really something you should expect from your employer.
Generally speaking, you should never work longer hours than you should, and that includes on-call. You should ensure you're having a blunt conversation with employers to ensure you're never on-call more than a week. Taking calls whilst on leave is also a big no - they can hire more staff if things are on fire. Finally, it's fair to expect at least two days per week can be worked from your home, three in an ideal situation. The technology is available and it's simply too beneficial to ignore.
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