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The Brutal Schedule of Working Half Days

June 5, 2014

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Since I started my own business, I have to work half days.

Sounds rough. LOL

And the beauty of it is that I get to pick which 12 hours I’m going to work.

Many of my readers know that I started a new job recently. I work as a dedicated IT project manager for a large telecommunication company. I’m dedicated to strictly working on a single account. It doesn’t hurt that it will soon be our biggest account.

We are a call center, which means that we hire agents to take phone calls. It’s a tough gig. I started my career at WordPerfect doing phone support. (Back Where It All Began.) I want to talk a little about hourly vs salary.

Our agents are all hourly. I’m salary.

Hourly has some advantages. Typically, when you have taken your last call of the day, you hang up your headset and you.are.done. No “homework.”

Also, we handle hundreds of calls per day. That can sometimes be tough to schedule for. Sometimes the queue gets slammed and it’s all hands on deck. But, other times the calls are slow, and the schedulers ask for VTO: Voluntary Time Off. Like when the airlines ask for volunteers on an overbooked flight, the schedulers ask if anyone wants to take the rest of the day off? Of course, they are doing it without pay, but it can still be a perk. Oh, and if the queue is slammed and they ask you to stay past your normal shift: OVERTIME! (I haven’t gotten overtime in 25 years.)

Hourly also has it’s rotten parts of course. As I said earlier, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. There’s typically no paid sick leave or paid vacation. And, at least for our agents, you have a schedule. You need to clock in and clock out for everything. And we have people who’s job it is to watch the stats and remind people that breaks are 15 minutes only.

Salaried workers avoid many of those issues. So long as my boss is good with it, I can come and go as I need to. Need to leave early for a doctor’s appointment, or a kid’s soccer game? Make sure you’re doing your job and no one bats an eye. Vacation and sick time is included in your deal, typically. And in a weird quirk of scheduling, if you come to work and then have to leave for some reason after a couple of hours, you get paid for the entire day.

Nice.

But there’s a downside too, right? That’s my point today. Typically a salaried employee is expected to know how to do their job and get it done without a lot of management oversight. My manager has very little interaction in my daily tasks. He makes it a point to stop by and find out what I’m working on. As the new guy, he wants to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed, or stuck on something.

It’s a great job. But, I’m coming in and replacing the work of two other PMs. And Matt and Clint have loads of company experience. I’m trying like mad to come up to speed on my new company, and the client, and take over tasks from my coworkers so they can go focus on other projects, and deal with IT incidents on the call floor. It tends to make for long days.

And as a Project Manager you would think I would manage time better. I’ve always been an early bird. I like to be the first guy in the office in the morning. Today, I got in around 6:00 AM. Our clients are a timezone away so it’s actually 7:00 AM their time. And I got to work answering emails and doing the million things that come up as we get ready to open a new call center.

Ah, but I’ll make up for it! I’ll leave early. (At least earlier than my coworkers who get in at normal business hours.)

It was a great plan. . all the way up until 4:30 in the afternoon when I was ready to head out.

Rodney, we need you on the call floor. Ten workstations just died all at the same time.

One of my coworkers asked

Why are you going down there?

It’s more than 5 impacted stations. The client considers that a major outage.

Fortunately, it was simple. A power cable that fed the entire row had a short. But, by the time the electrician showed up, diagnosed the problem, figured out that he didn’t have a spare part, checked and realized we didn’t have a spare part elsewhere in the building, and made a return appointment for Friday, It was after six o’clock.

I’m really hoping I come up to speed on our new client processes quickly. These half-days are killing me.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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