In a way, I’m both an IT professional and an IT manager as all the people in our SOC report to me. As such, I try to see this issue from dual perspectives – that of an employee wanting to do the best for his company, and that of a manager who’s also concerned with the welfare of his team.
Let’s start from the first viewpoint.
Although I don’t “expect” to be on call, I don’t mind being brought in if/when necessary. Personally, I’m against conference calls in general. I was in a large corporation for many years, and it appeared to me that too many people stayed busy on conference calls all the time, for_no_reason. So, I will attend a conference call if, and only if, there’s a strict need for that call. Period. It’s a rule I adhere to not just at work but, for obvious reasons, it becomes stricter when I’m on vacation.
I never check work voicemail; we have plenty of ways to stay in touch – iPhone, SMS, mails, Yahoo – if someone wants me, they know where to find me. Voicemails? They’re like faxes – a thing of the past. I make sure to check my emails frequently, in case of emergencies.If a customer needs help and I’m the only one able to assist, it’s my duty towards the company AND for my personal relationship with the customer to ‘field’ that query. I wish that were never the case, but there are times when we find ourselves in situations wherein, for whatever reason, no one else can answer that particular issue ~ we certainly can’t leave the customer hanging for a week or two.
That said, It’ll be unfair to quote me on this though, because I also cover a C level role of business development, and business waits for no one. It’s primarily for that reason that I check emails but I also respond to technical emails if/when they come up.
Work does not necessarily “disrupt” my vacation. Then again, perhaps my assessment is unfair because of the various hats I wear which translates into my being unable to spend an entire day detached from the office without wanting to know what’s going on. My vacations, few and far in between, are always in places where cellular phones work. I’m not one for the wilderness anyway, so that’s not an issue. What motivates me? Business interest.
Now, the view from the management standpoint, as a leader of people whose welfare is my responsibility to a certain extent. I like to ensure that when they’re on vacation, all the things I mentioned about myself do NOT apply to them. If they’re on vacation, they are_on_vacation, and I expect them to be as detached and unavailable as possible. The team needs to be self sufficient even when one individual is out. Just be sure to not send both the only two persons who cover a specific aspect of work on vacation at the one same time ~ because Murphy WILL punish you.
For instance, if I have only 2 in my team who can create VPN configurations, I’m definitely not sending them both on vacation at the same time. But the one who IS on vacation will leave the support iPhone in the office, bring the computer only if he wants to, and only to check emails if we call him for an emergency, not to stay in constant contact with the office. I fully believe in complete detachment, renewal, rest. If the employee can’t take her mind off office issues for the 2 weeks of her vacation, the office will suffer on her return because she won’t be fully recovered. I absolutely believe in this, and I also believe in extemporaneous, spontaneous, rewards like one day vacations. For example, I gave the team a paid day off on July 5th even though we were open for business and most of them hadn’t even planned to be out. Why?
Simple ~ it made all of them happy. And that happiness, in turn, creates an environment wherein they’re happy to come to every morning, and their productivity is as high as it could be. They’re committed, dedicated, and loyal, because the company treats them as the single most important asset we have here!