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What vacation? Expect to work while you're away

Esther Shein | July 11, 2014
In these lean times, backups aren't what they used to be; it's inevitable that IT staffers will be called to help, especially when an important issue is brewing.

When I'm on vacation on any given day I budget at least one hour of time [for work]. Harry Roberts, CIO, Century 21 Department Stores

Harry Roberts, CIO of Century 21 department stores, says most CIOs assume that they have to be available at all times. "You're at the company's disposal," he says. "I take the operation seriously so I would say there's rarely a time when I'm on vacation when I don't have to do something" related to work. That could be reading emails, addressing something urgent or getting back to someone who needs to talk to him, or dealing with a system or budgetary issue.

"When I'm on vacation on any given day I budget at least one hour of time" for work, says Roberts. "It's just the nature of the beast."

Juggling summertime projects

Dave Jackson, director of IT and CIO at Welch's, says it's up to staff to manage their vacation time; scheduling must be done with their managers' approval. "We allow people to carry over vacation due to mission-critical projects," he adds. Welch's has about 30 internal IT employees and 20 contractors.

When there is a project underway, most of his people have a backup, even in the summer. The Welch's fiscal year ends on Aug. 31, so often there are significant projects that need to be completed during the summer. But, Jackson says, people are aware of that coming into the summer months, and if they want time off they need to work with their business process owner.

"We encourage people to plan ahead and work with their backup and communicate with them and schedule tasks accordingly," he says. "It hasn't really been too much of a problem over the last five years."

"We try hard not to bother someone" while on vacation, says Dave Jackson, CIO at Welch's, but "if they're working four hours while they're on vacation they don't have to count that as vacation time."

Jackson says the company really works to make sure IT staff schedule vacation time. "We have several folks who are from India, and what they like to do is save up their vacation time and go back to India for three to four weeks at a time, and we allow them to do that. We also allow them to work from India while they're there. We try our best to be flexible in situations like that."

Jackson says his IT staff is a very dedicated group of people who will take their PCs with them on vacation and check in and make sure things are taken care of while they're gone. "We try hard not to bother someone ... [but] if they're working four hours while they're on vacation they don't have to count that as vacation time."

 

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