Lead Image © astyf, 123RF.com

Lead Image © astyf, 123RF.com

Balancing Work and Life as a Sys Admin

Article from ADMIN 81/2024
Until a few months ago, I didn't watch TikTok, but now I find myself staring at countless short-form videos on various topics, from the law to politics to pure silliness.

Until a few months ago, I didn't watch TikTok, but now I find myself staring at countless short-form videos on various topics, from the law to politics to pure silliness. It's easy, free entertainment that requires very little from me as a casual observer. While scrolling through some of my favorite content creators' fluff one night, I stumbled upon this animated office worker, Veronica. She works in a standard corporate office, providing phone support for her employer's services. In short, Veronica knows how to set boundaries. She gives 100 percent to her employer for eight hours but vehemently protects her off-duty time. Did I also mention that she prevents her boss, coworkers, and customers from creating a toxic work environment? She does, and she does so in a calm, professional, and non-combative tone.

One scene showcases Veronica's commitment to her boundaries. When her manager calls for an early 30-minute meeting, she leaves work half an hour early to compensate for the disruption. Her manager disapproves, accusing her of "short-changing" the company. However, Veronica stands her ground, explaining that she is not violating company policies but simply adhering to the agreed-upon eight-hour workday. In another scene, Veronica sets her manager's expectations even further after receiving an after-hours phone call asking her to check her email and respond to time-sensitive requests. Veronica charged two hours of overtime for the hours worked. Her manager told her they didn't know if "upper management would approve the two hours." Veronica answered that upper management didn't have to approve her after-hours work, so she expected to be paid for the time worked. The manager said, "Your generation is something else." Veronica said, "If you mean that we don't give corporations our entire lives and every waking moment for barely any pay, then, yes, we're something else."

I like Veronica. I like that she asserts herself, stands up for what she believes, and doesn't allow her manager to manage her home life and work time. The Baby Boomer generation is the one whose parents lived through the Great Depression and were trained to have a "never stop working" work ethic that has turned the United States into a nation of worker bees who don't take vacation, sick days, or personal time off. Admittedly, I've always been annoyed by those who "take advantage" of the system by taking personal time, vacation, and sick days and only working eight hours per day and 40 hours per week with no nights or weekends. I realize they are not taking advantage of anything except their right to live a balanced life.

A friend of mine who lived in Argentina as an expatriate said that in the US, people live to work, whereas in other countries, they work to live. Sure, we have much to be thankful for, but at what price? We spend most of our waking hours at work, ignoring our spouses, children, homes, and ourselves for companies that aren't loyal to us in return. They can dismiss us anytime, for any reason, and we have no recourse. In the process, we lose our healthcare, dignity, and hopes of promotions and retirement in a company for which we've sacrificed our lives. It's no wonder that we're a nation with a very high incidence of substance abuse, crime, stress, and mental health issues. But at least we have a 401k, high-deductible healthcare options, and two whole weeks of paid annual vacation that we're encouraged not to take.

I'm glad for Veronica and her generation of individuals who prefer to break the cycle of workaholic behavior and who cherish and protect their non-work time. It's an attitude whose day has come. It's time to demand respectful treatment of our time and work boundaries.

I need to stop now, but I could continue for several more pages with this discussion. After working a full day, I should eat dinner soon because I have a four-hour maintenance window this evening (if nothing goes wrong). This only occurs twice a month, and if I make these sacrifices of my time, I'm sure to get a "Meets Expectations" on my annual review to lock in that sweet, well-deserved four percent raise.

Ken Hess * Senior ADMIN Editor

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