It all started in November 2020 when we had to decide where to stay after I learned that my apartment in Brussels would face a 10 to 12 month (!) delay due to corona -although I'm very doubtful it's just because of that- and that my wife would deliver the end of May 2021.
For a couple of months now, in my team at work, we can’t do any more updates or new software to customers (“pushing to production”) during regular working hours.
My employer has good reasons for it, the main one being that it is a demand from the regulator. Bank regulators started to scrutinize my employer due to stability issues.
As a result of this, my team can only do deployments to production between 1 am and 5 am. And who decided to do more OPS work right as this was put into place?
Yep, yours truly. But this leaves me with a dilemma as it were.
Financial opportunities and stress
On one hand, it gives me opportunities, both financially and professionally.
Part of being a Developer-Operations (DevOps) engineer means taking up technical support. In more concrete terms this results in being on-call for 3 weeks at a time if you decide to take up first-line support. Because my team needs to have this support I volunteered.
Doing this is a free choice since it requires signing an addendum but it also results in a net salary increase of about 450 EUR gross or 225 EUR net for 3 weeks. As of 2021, I’m also allowed to register the nightly deployments retroactively and get additional pay. So, financially it’s an excellent move.
Another reason to do it is the exposure it gives me within the company as I come into contact with way more people. Not only fellow DevOps but also senior management.
Impact of nightly work on health
All good then right? Well, no. On the other hand, it has increased my working days that go well beyond what you’d expect to do. It makes professional and personal to blend more and more.
I have had at least 4 nights now where I stay up till 3:30 – 4:00 am. There were also faster deployments but even then it results in staying up till 1:30 – 2:00 am. And these are more frequent, at least once per week, regardless of my on-call status.
Research has shown that an irregular sleeping pattern impacts sleep negatively. People doing (night) shifts are the prime example of the toll it has on humans.
Now, I’m not comparing my, still infrequent, nightly work moments to full-blown (night) shifts of nurses, factory workers, etc. that do this for years on end sometimes.
However, it would also be asinine thinking my extra work cannot have an impact on my overall health or at least impacts a good night’s sleep.
Is My Personal Life For Sale Or Off-limits?
These downsides are manageable for now, but as you will probably know by now, we are expecting our first child in May 2021. I know this will also impact not only my sleep but my wife’s as well.
It’s not hard to imagine that a baby will have a huge impact on our lives. While I don’t battle with sleep issues at the moment it’s going to be interesting to see how my nightly work activity and the baby will impact it.
Having said that, I will probably continue doing the on-call and the extra night deployments for as long as it feels manageable.
I will probably stop with one or the other by year-end when my wife has a job.
So, do I think that the extra pay is worth the reduced quality of sleep? For the moment, yes as I’m able to still manage it.
Once the baby is here I will have to see how my time will be divided.