Monday, September 08, 2008


Night Shift

The team I'm working with is involved in installing a new system in South Australia. A few people are on site in Adelaide, but most of us are still back here in Georgia, USA.

South Australia is thirteen-and-a-half hours ahead of US Eastern time. This has made it difficult to provide support from home, as they work while we sleep and vice versa.

We came up with a solution: the people in the States will be working from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM, which is 4:30 AM to 12:30 AM in Adelaide. The people in Australia will show up at 7:00 AM their time (which is the earliest they are allowed into the building), giving us a few hours of overlapping duty.

So, this week I get to see my wife and stepson for just a few minutes each morning (as they prepare for school/work) and each evening (when I get home around midnight). That stinks, but I guess it's better than traveling to Australia myself.

(I know some people will chime in and say "Oh, you've got to go to Australia! It's wonderful!" You people obviously aren't IT workers. If I go to Australia for this project, all I will get to see is the airport, the hotel, and the basement where they keep the computers. Sightseeing is for people in Business Development.)

In this age of technology (and especially considering your job in particular can be done 99% remotely I'd assume, with the 1% personal interaction done away with if necessary?) one would have to wonder why physically going to a location would be necessary any longer unless there was some personal/adventurous reason to go, which clearly doesn't seem to be the case in your example.

My wife works for the government and they recently introduced a new computer system that is 100% capable of letting her virtually work from home (with the exception of the need to drop off physical paperwork once or twice a week) yet she still needs to drive to an office and sit in a cube answering the phones from there, instead of at home.

The government touts all their "Green initiatives" and crows about how they're trying to reduce carbon emissions, and then requires 200 people (with probably close to 1 car per person) to gather in an office for 8 hours every day instead of working from home and setting a good example.
Actually, a lot of my work is with systems that consist of thousands of devices connected via Ethernet, serial lines, and POTS. Somebody has to physically be there to hook things up, flip the switches, and watch whether the little lights blink the way they are supposed to. And when they don't, hook up the necessary diagnostic tools.

I often envy web developers. Just FTP your stuff to a server somewhere and you're done...
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