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Working Your 40

By Steve Jones,

Today's editorial was originally released on Dec 3, 2007. It is being republished as Steve is at SQL in the City in Seattle today.

Or will you be working your 35, 30, or even 20?

I saw this article about a report from Gartner that by 2015 many of us will work less than 40 hours. As someone that's had some success in IT over many years, I could actually see this happening.

Not I, you say. They can't mean IT workers. Perhaps those secretaries, accontants, marketing folks, and others will negotiate less work per week, but not with those in IT. We work long hours to meet deadlines and have large workloads, on-call and after-hours work, and more.

IT has been one of those areas that has really slipped between the cracks with regard to employment laws and customs in my opinion. We've almost been treated like blue-collar workers but paid and expected to work like white collar workers. Add to the fact that most of the time the average person can't understand what we really do or see the results of our work until it's finished, and IT workers haven't really been easy to classify.

But in my opinion we have one huge advantage over many other types of workers: we can work anywhere.

I'm not sure we'll get better staffing at companies or even lower workloads. But I can see our "core hours", those times where we have to be in an office, or available for phone calls, shrinking below the 40 hour mark. Especially as telecommuting grows, I'm sure we'll have less and less structured time in the office.

Initially I would guess that many of us will make up shortfalls with work from home, after hours, on-call, and other methods. I know I typically work 40-50 hours, but it's 7 days a week, and spread out in 2-3 hour segments throughout those 7 days. I'm as likely to be working Saturday morning as Tuesday afternoon, or even late Sunday night.

I do think that the 20 hour job that is described in the article is interesting, and if someone can figure out how to balance the work and communication in a company, it would be a great idea. How many parents that don't work would love to apply for a "20 hour, full-time job", while their kids are at school? In Colorado, we have a number of "year round schools" where the kids go to school for 9 weeks and are off for 3, in four quarters. A few employers have taken advantage of this by balancing 4 workers for 3 slots, knowing that one of them is always off from work, taking care of their children during a break.

I can certainly see that this would be a boon for DBAs. I've seen plenty of DBA production jobs that could be handled most of the time in a 20 hour week. Short term consulting could help those crisis situations and if they pay was in the 50-60% of the current range, it would be interesting to me.

I just wonder how many of you would be looking for 2 20-hour jobs. I know I would.

Steve Jones


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Robin Stine

The podcast feeds are now available at sqlservercentral.podshow.com to get better bandwidth and maybe a little more exposure :). Comments are definitely appreciated and wanted. You can get feeds from there.

Today's podcast features music by the beautiful, jazzy, Robin Stine. Check her music out at www.robinstine.com.

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