Handling On-Call Telecom Needs

By David Strom Print this article Print

The Strominator delves into questions of handling how to pay for on-call IT duties.

How do you reimburse your IT workers for after-hours duty?

In the medical profession, the term is being "on-call." It refers to specific assignments that doctors have to cover on evenings and weekends. In the IT world, we generally think of this as being part of our jobs, and since we are already checking emails first thing in the morning and before we go to bed, many of us don't even think of the term "off hours" as having any meaning anymore.
I thought about this when reading the excellent blog post of John Halamka, a Boston healthcare CIO who writes the geekdoctor blog at Blogspot. If you haven't seen his blog, you might want to take a look.

He specifically documents his policies, and it got me thinking in more general terms how a company pays for on-call duties.

It isn't an easy question to answer, mainly because we now rely on so many different technologies to do our job when we aren't at our offices. Let's make a list:

  • Home Internet access,
  • Cell phone and/or pager,
  • Roaming Wi-Fi or broadband connections when on the road,
  • eFax or equivalent for receiving confidential documents when traveling,
  • Specialized gear such as USB headsets and IP phone handsets.

By now most corporations are buying laptops by default as their primary computing machine, so this isn't as much of an issue as it once was. But still, there is a lot of gear to figure out.

Some of these items are obvious, and some have deeper layers. For example, home Internet access. Does a company pay for partial service (under the assumption that it isn't always used for work-related tasks), an upgrade to higher-speed service (under the assumption that the work-related tasks could be bandwidth intensive), the entire basic service bill (under the assumption that the work-related tasks aren't bandwidth intensive), or a different formula? 

This article was originally published on 2008-04-07
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