2 min read

What I Learned on the Night Shift

Featured Image

FNTS has taken great pride on the expanded work hours for the Enterprise Systems Operations Center (ESOC).  To expand our service offering and provide our customers with the best service if issues arose.   In addition to putting out fires it also permits our customers a night-time window for after-hours work to be performed such as scheduled maintenance and upgrades.  
In August I assumed a roll as a night shift employee.  With the arrival of a new baby, the night shift theory worked out well because I could be home with our son during the day to allow my wife some sleep after having been up most of the night while I was gone.  However, that theory was just that - a theory.  
What I learned working the night shift.
The Good:
•    Fewer interruptions.  As a subject matter expert (SME) on many items that the ESOC supports, I was accustomed to interruptions from fellow team members looking for input how to solve difficult tasks.  When on the night shift, we were often engrossed in our own tasks and didn't need to interact very much with each other, allowing ourselves to deep-dive into the tasks at hand without interruption.
•    Able to work on and focus on projects for both internal and external clients, increasing customer satisfaction and flexibility to meet customer needs.
•    Deep-dive troubleshooting and research issues with little to no distractions.  I was able to dive deep into tasks - making it easier to fend off the urge to sleep.
The Bad:
•    Very few places are open for a late night snack, many that are open are not very healthy:  You'd better plan out meals and snacks during the night, or else you'll be spending some time in a fast food drive-through or raiding the vending machines.
•    Sleep will try and trick you, it can be very difficult to stay awake on some nights.    You have to keep very busy during the night and or it is easy to nod off.
•    Lose out on interaction with the day crew.  When most of your team works and holds their meetings during the day, you can certainly miss out on the comradery and current events. 
The Ugly:
•    Odd sleep cycle - split-sleep schedule:  Perhaps because I knew this was temporary, I never quite adjusted to working during the night and sleeping during the day.  I often would come home and try to interact with the family when I should have been asleep, often which would burn me later.
•    Crashes - sleep always wins:  I found that I would crash about every week to week and a half.  My average day was 2-5 hours of sleep, usually split into two chunks throughout the day.  While not healthy, it just plain wears on a person, and eventually sleep will win out.  This also caused random bouts of falling asleep during the day during inconvenient (and sometimes unsafe) times.
•    Impact on family life schedule.  Remember our theory about working at night and then being up during the day so that my wife could sleep?  Almost never happened.  When I got home, I was sometimes awake (usually when the other kids were home from school), but most of the time, I just wanted to get some rest.  I'm pretty sure my wife spent more time awake during the average day than I did.
So the moral of the story?  The night-shift certainly can have its advantages, but you have to be fully devoted to the schedule or it will kick you in the hind-quarters and it can be rough on personal, professional, and family life.  I have a new-found respect for the night crew and what they do, no matter how large or small the task.