Welles: All work and no play

Why don’t information technology employees seek the downtime that the rest of us need?

Are information technology professionals workaholics or simply dedicated to their work — or are they in jobs that are so demanding that they don’t have time to think about anything else? In a recent poll released by Dice.com, an IT jobs site, only half of responding IT professionals said they considered work/life balance an important aspect of their jobs.

To them, the idea of balance lessened the importance of the work they did.

One-third said that when they went on vacation — and only half said they took vacations — they checked in with the office while they were gone.

Some would say that those who checked in with their offices did not have a decent work/life balance.

But, on the other hand, checking to make sure things are going smoothly when you are away can make you feel better, knowing that you will not be returning to chaos.

Another Dice.com survey conducted in 2006 supported the value of checking in.

In that survey, 80 percent of respondents said their BlackBerrys did not tether them to the office. Instead, they said the devices gave them greater flexibility about when and where they work.

That survey of IT workers produced results different from a study in which all types of employees responded. Adecco, a staffing and placement company, and Harris Interactive surveyed private-sector employees and found that 80 percent of respondents were worried about stagnant paychecks and work/life balance.

More Generation Xers than baby boomers said work/life balance is a primary career concern. But both groups worry about their paychecks.

So where do federal IT workers fall in these concerns? If you want a raise and a better work/life balance, here are some tips from the private sector.


  • Seek feedback. To position yourself for a raise in 2008, Adecco recommends that you ask for feedback at your next performance review — not only about how you are doing but also about what you need to do to position yourself for a pay increase.

  • Show off. Don’t boast, but showcase successful projects and assignments to which you contributed. Did you create a more efficient process for doing something or help someone on your team develop in a particular area? Make sure people recognize your contributions.

  • Start small. You might find more work/ life balance by starting with small changes. What are the two or three activities you would engage in if you had more time and balance? Go to the gym? Have dinner with your family at a decent hour? Or just spend a few hours reading a book? Pick an activity and mark it on the calendar as you would schedule a work meeting. Then stick to the appointment.

  • Engage your manager. If you are seeking more flexibility at work and more time in your personal life, discuss options. But remember that flexibility can come with a price. Working an abbreviated schedule might also mean more time working during nontraditional hours.


Welles is a retired federal employee who has also worked in the private sector. She lives in Bethesda, Md., and writes about work/life topics for Federal Computer Week. She can be reached at jwelles@1105govinfo.com.
 

About the Author

Judith Welles is a retired federal employee who has also worked in the private sector. She lives in Bethesda, Md.

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