Christmas: break or business opportunity?

Like much of Australia, New Zealand is still at the beach. But for many in the IT sector, the festive season is still no holiday.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

Like much of Australia, New Zealand is still at the beach. But for many in the IT sector, the festive season is still no holiday.

As regular as the arrival of summer sharks, the issue surfaces of whether you should take your digital devices with you.

Union leaders on both sides of the Tasman have again demanded firms tell their staff to leave their mobiles and laptops at home.

The union leaders have a fair point and fortunately most employers I have come across agree that it is better to leave staff undisturbed and let them truly unwind over the holidays.

Attending the various Christmas functions of technology vendors, the small talk usually turns to what people are doing over Christmas. The big bosses, the country managers and the like are often as determined as anyone to get away from it all. At any other time of the year, they would be at the beck and call of their employer, but Christmas is the one time they put family first.

These bosses see value in being fully disconnected, taking time out so they can be refreshed for the return to work.

They don't want to be disturbed themselves, so they likewise don't disturb their staff.

Trouble is, for some in the IT community, Christmas is actually the time to make hay while the sun shines.

These are typically the self-employed, and being one myself, I too have often had to work over part of the holidays.

Last New Year's Eve, for example, I interviewed several IT bosses in various provincial towns.

The "holidays" one told me, are necessary for catch-up. For others, they are a less busy time, where there is actually time spare to be interviewed by journalists.

Over Christmas, say in seaside areas, some even enjoy a seasonal boom: time to make extra money from those visiting city folks whose laptops and computers need fixing.

Others are also busy upgrading company systems, a task made easier as customer premises don't have any staff at work and in the way.

For these people, their devices are always switched on, they are always available. They cannot afford to turn down any prospect of extra work.

Thus, while many of us, the salaried permanent staff, might well be enjoying a break, we might want to spare a thought for those currently working.

Still, they just might be able to down tools once in a while when the rest of us are back at the office, when there'll be more room at the beach and hopefully those sharks will have swum away!

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