re: Making On-Call Not Suck VIEW POST


Even with the best escalation and call-rotation structures, you can still burn-out your engineers if you have engineers that are "know it alls" (whether by design or by circumstance). And it's not merely a case of "well, they should document and train the rest of the team better": some people just naturally remember minutia and esoteric information about technical solutions - stuff that, even if you did document it, no one would really know how to find that documented solution (or understand it if they did).

At a prior job in the early 2000s, we had a multi-tier, 24/7/365 on-site support staff. Supplementing them was a call-rotation for the senior engineers. Unfortunately, even with all of that, some problems always ended up in my lap because I was the only person who knew the system better than the vendor did. On the one hand, it literally meant an extra car's worth of OT-pay in the span of 12 months. On the other… I can say without hyperbole that 15+ years later, you can still make my wife shudder by playing a sound sample of the old NexTel phone's ringer.

In any case, massive OT-pay opportunities aside (and a year-end spot-bonus), it meant that I pretty much had the option between divorce and finding a new job.


I feel this so much! I was that person with all the domain knowledge that everyone would turn to and it eventually did burn me out. Luckily my coworkers intervened.


Fortunately, it was more my wife that got burnt out by the long, 3AM/weekend/holiday/vacation phonecalls rather than me. I generally just lumped it under the "meh: it's time-and-a-half and whether this call lasts 1 minute or 50, I get to bill the entire hour" (which can go a long way towards not getting burnt out when you're still in your early 30s). =)

To burn out your family or yourself can't be compensated... This industry needs to change the approach or the big turnover will keep existing.

I've been in IT for 25 years now. Haven't really seen a change in the tendency to throw more and more work at the people that best demonstrate the ability to get things done.

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