Overworked IT managers risk blunders or burnout

With almost all IT managers exceeding a 48-hour week, enterprises are risking serious damage to their online presence by overworking key staff

The boom in Internet applications means that one in four IT managers regularly works a 60-hour week, and almost all are breaking European regulations.

According to research released on Wednesday, nine out of ten IT managers in the UK regularly exceed the 48-hour working week specified by the European Working Time Directive. Tech workers in government are worst hit -- everyone interviewed claimed to work more than a standard working week -- while those working in retail, education and finance are also very likely to exceed the 48-hour mark.

A lack of resources was the most common reason given for working extra hours, followed by the pressure to complete development work.

Attenda, the outsourced Internet applications firm that commissioned the research, warned that the demand created by the Internet economy is falling on the shoulders of in-house IT staff. "It could be said that in-house technology teams are the junior doctors of the cyber world," said David Godwin, vice-president of strategy and marketing at Attenda.

Godwin added that while overwork was not a life-or-death issue, some companies are risking serious damage to their Web presence by driving their IT staff towards burnout.

Former IT manager James Wilson confirmed that those responsible for running a company's systems commonly work longer than a standard working week, but pointed out that many staff accept this, because of job satisfaction or financial remuneration. "If you enjoy the job you're doing, you'll put up with doing extra hours, especially if the rewards are right," he said.

Wilson also warned that while outsourcing Internet operations would work for some companies, there were also downsides. "An outsourcing firm will have a pool of professionals with a range of skills, who will be better able to provide 24-hour support than in-house IT staff. However, they will have less knowledge and understanding of a firm's business and systems," he explained.

IT workers who don't fancy the idea of working overtime should consider working in the north of England, where only 71 percent of the IT managers interviewed were exceeding a 48-hour week, compared to 95 percent of those in the south (excluding London). In the Midlands, 88 percent were burdened by extra hours, as were 84 percent in London and 75 percent in Scotland.

A recent study found that many IT managers are resisting teleworking because they fear it will increase the amount of time they are working.

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