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Are Night Shifts Worth The Extra Money And Energy?

Are Night Shifts Worth The Extra Money And Energy?

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.

In summary

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.

Do you have (night) shifts or a job that requires being available at night? If so, does it (negatively) impact your life and/or your sleep?

Please leave a comment sharing your experience.

I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

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That heavily depends on age indeed. I was in a similar situation doing weekend (not night) shift for several years, which allowed to accumulate quite a sizeable amount of money plus a lot of additional vacation days. However, as I became older (read – post-30), 6- or 7- work week starts to feel after some time and you are becoming a zombie. Anything until 30 I would do that for additional money 🙂

Marc Moore

Nobody usually lasts long in night jobs, and I think your boss is crazy to risk highly sought profiles like your own from leaving.
Someone to replace you needs to and have the right IT knowledge and be willing to work at night, not to mention the additional costs in training.
Me personally, I wouldn’t do it, I try to avoid overtime, and rarely work weekends because I just need to clear my mind as well and need a fresh mind to blog 😉

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