The Web never sleeps. So why should its workers?
The Internet not only revolutionized communication, but it did wonders for the graveyard shift. After all, a server crash knows no time, and when it happens at 3 a.m., someone's got to fix it, right?
So you end up with people like Paul Vinciguerra, 34, the executive director of technology for Plusfunds.com in Manhattan, whose schedule includes working in the middle of the night, on weekends and in the middle of the night during weekends. Fortunately for him, he often can do the work from home, but he still has to be on call all the time.
"The thing with the Web is it's brought 100 percent availability, and people want it to be up all the time," said Vinciguerra. "If this is the type of work you like to do, this is the way you have to do it."
Although technology certainly isn't the first line of work involving strange hours, it does seem to have an inordinate number of people who work such hours, said Bill Lessard, co-author of the book "NetSlaves: True Tales of Working the Web" and co-founder of the NetSlaves.com Web site.
He said there are a couple reasons for that: First of all, it's the nature of the beast, because no one can turn off the Web. Lessard believes the other reason, though, is that many tech companies are so disorganized that employees - and especially the grunts - have no other choice but to work into the night in order to get everything done.
"It's the grunts who are restarting the server at 3 o'clock in the morning," he said.
Then there's Jacky Chen, who wants to be at work at 3 a.m. Chen, 22, a Taiwan-born production designer for Manhattan-based YadaYada Inc., comes to work in the afternoon and leaves the next morning on some days.
Chen started off working regular hours but, about two months into his job, asked whether he could work at night, when he's more productive. The company agreed, so now Chen has the office to himself. Although his graveyard shift is fairly steady, there was a time when Chen worked two days straight, and other times during lengthy stints he has crashed on the couch.
"Everybody's pretty much gone for the day, and there are not too many phone calls and people telling you about last-minute changes," he said.
Working through the night is what Linda Rocco does, though at least her office has the convenience of being under the same roof as her bed. For the past year and a half, Rocco has run Web Spinners Design Co. out of her home in Selden, N.Y. She's a self-described addict when it comes to Web design, and her clients have received e-mails from her at all hours of the day, giving them the impression, she said, that she never leaves her computer.
Rocco, 32, said being able to run a tech-related business out of her home is why she keeps irregular hours. She said she enjoys what she does, so she doesn't mind finishing a project at 2 a.m.
Again, said NetSlaves' Lessard, that's the nature of the business. "People expect an answer, even if it's on the weekend," he said. "It's unique because technology lets you work globally, on a 24/7 basis."
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
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