Odd Hours: Part of the Job?
For many professionals, a job that requires being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year might sound overwhelming. But for database administrators (DBAs), it’s just part of the job. For many, 24×7 is not as dreadful as it might sound. In the past, DBAs often had to make frequent visits to their offices at untimely hours to fix problems or update their systems. But today, many DBAs have remote access at home, and they are rarely handcuffed to their computers after the 5 o’clock whistle.
When Global Knowledge Data Center Manager John Dell’Omo began his career 10 years ago as an Army captain in the signal corps, 24×7 was more demanding than it is today. “Ten years ago, 24×7 was difficult because you didn’t have the capability to dial in with business process networks. But fortunately with today’s technologies, I can do most of the things I need to do from my house, which makes it a lot better,” Dell’Omo said. “Nowadays, I can get on my personal computer and hopefully within 30 to 45 minutes I can go back to whatever I was doing before.”
For Dell’Omo, remote access is important because his personal life is his first priority. “You have to keep your work and personal life in perspective,” he said. “For me this is just a job. It is a means for me to have a life that supports my wife and two kids. So work is important, but my family is more important.”
Dell’Omo also owns a youth soccer league in Cary, N.C. He said he wouldn’t be a data-center manager if it required him to sacrifice time with his family and his passion, soccer. “My life is my family and soccer,” he said. “I probably spend 20 to 25 hours a week related to my soccer league and the kids that I coach, and that is extremely important to me. But, one of the advantages of being in a 24×7 environment is that my boss gives me flexibility. If I have to leave at 4:30 p.m. to go to soccer practice, she knows it is not a big deal because she knows I am available all the time—even when I am on the soccer field.”
Because Dell’Omo can manage the system from home, work rarely interferes with his personal life, and he hardly goes to the office during non-business hours. “It is important to understand that there needs to be balance and that you have to plan for how you are going to manage work without negatively impacting your family,” Dell’Omo said. “I would never recommend someone getting into the habit of working 15 to 16 hours a day—especially if you have a family, wife and kids. It is not a smart choice.”
Dell’Omo said that he usually gets called into work once or twice a month, and he usually gets called to do things from home two to three times a week. He said he wouldn’t be able to have such an excellent balance between work and personal life if it were not for his team of three co-workers. “If you work on a team, it is important that everyone knows each other’s job responsibilities because there is nothing more frustrating as an employee than to take a vacation and to be paged and have to deal with an issue that only you can handle,” he said. “So if you work inside a team environment, it is important someone on your team can at least handle the emergency situations while you are gone because when you take a vacation you should actually take a vacation.”
For Dell’Omo, the biggest benefit of working 24×7 is the flexibility to work outside of the office. “There is a price that is paid being available all the time to the business, but it also provides me some flexibility to live the life I like to live,” he said. “(For) every job I had (I’ve) held responsibilities outside of the normal work hours. And I have just grown accustomed to it, and it comes with the job. So it is a small price to pay for the lifestyle that I can live because of this job.”
–Cari McLean, firstname.lastname@example.org