Nine to Five Job – Not in IT

If you want a nice easy going job, with steady hours then there’s one combination that you want to avoid – an IT job.  I was reading a story online today about a computer developer who had started a new job with a software development company.  One night, just after midnight he heard a knock in the door it was a colleague with a laptop and mobile phone.  His remit was to connect up a web session between the CEO and a Technology partner based in Japan in order to discuss their next project.

Now of course the time was mainly due to the time difference, midnight in the USA is daytime in Japan.  But I wonder how many people would be happy about that situation, remember no notice just appear at the door in order to do something work related.  The developer in question was not that surprised and after his initial shock was happy to comply, it’s something that many IT professionals have become used to – 24/7 you are an employee.

Much of this is partly due to how connected we are, instantly available by emails, laptops and smart phones.  Many IT support workers who used to work shifts on call, in order to respond to issues now get notified instantly.  Perhaps by an SMS or a custom application, they may find out the minute a piece of hardware fails, or a server is failing to respond.   With that knowledge and the ability to connect, they are often expected to fix whatever problem is involved whatever the time.

Of course to many of us this work/life balance sounds decidedly unhealthy, responding to queries and problems 24/7 means that literally you can’t switch off.   But there are some benefits that this technology has enabled to many workers particularly in the IT field.  As the set 9 to 5 working day has started to disappear, so has the restriction on working in a specific location.

Depending on your job you may find that your location is entirely irrelevant.  Take for example a web developer I know called Richard, who works for one the big pharmaceutical firms, he is extremely talented and was able to dictate a lot about his working conditions.  He was able to negotiate that although his ‘job’ was based near Manchester in the UK, his working day could be based anywhere.   He actually lives in Spain during the Summer, and rents somewhere where he can ski in the winter.

Richard has benefited greatly by the improved communication tools available today.  His working day has no set hours, his time is allocated to projects which he assigns to suit himself.  He has his own office at home, he even uses his company VPN which routes all his network traffic through the United Kingdom.  The reason for this is that he can basically operate as if he’s in the UK, access his UK banking site, watch the BBC Iplayer whenever he likes online – it’s normally blocked in Spain but this video shows you how to bypass it.

In some senses of course having an 24/7 job depends on your outlook on life.  It also is dependent on other factors, it’s not great for family life or when you get a little older.  But for many younger people it’s simply an accepted part of having a good, well paid job in IT.

For more information on technical issues noted above: