When you're on the night shift working from midnight until 8 a.m., what hour drags the most? Is it 4 a.m.? 6 a.m.? Some companies are responding to the fatigue and boredom that can accompany the night shift...by letting the employees play.
At Globix Corporation, an Internet service provider for businesses, behavior that would get you fired at most companies is encouraged here. Management wants to keep the night shift alert and sharp in case something goes wrong with one of their client's Web site. So as long as someone is monitoring the systems, the rest of the employees can play or study or surf the Web or play some more.
Globix's "fun policies" are informal, but new employees are given a tour of the facilities, which include video games, a pool table, an espresso bar, and a workout room.
Globix employees are guarding and monitoring Web sites that must function properly 24/7, or the corporations who use the Web sites for e-commerce could lose millions of dollars. Even though the stakes are so high, Globix still encourages the employees to burn off stress.
"The employees are grownups," says Mark Hansen, director of technology at Globix. "We trust them to 'play' when it's right and professional. These are people who normally have the most training and need to be able to handle situations by themselves. They need time to relax and take some of that stress off."
Not only can "fun policies" get employees through the wee hours in the morning, but they also build camaraderie.
"Some of the activities require team and/or friendly competition and this builds teamwork," Hansen says. "It allows people to depend on each other in a more relaxed environment."
The payoff for Globix is great: the company gets higher functioning night workers and also happier and grateful employees.
Robert Lynch, a system administrator who works the night shift at Globix, says he especially appreciates Globix's fun policies when the time starts to drag between 2:00 a.m. and 5 a.m.
"One thing that really helps build loyalty around Globix is all the little things--the things like the pool table makes us happy, gives us something to do, and it interjects a little bit of fun into our workday," Lynch says.
Lynch works out in the gym to rejuvenate himself and "to get the blood flowing" when things are really slow. Sometimes he does Web research on music that he enjoys, pulling out obscure facts about his favorite bands.
But Lynch also uses the "slower" hours to move ahead in his career. "A lot of what I do during the slow hours is teach myself. I'm trying to move into an engineering position at Globix--that's my goal by the end of the year."
"And basically, I need to enhance my skill-set as much as possible," Lynch says. "We have computer-based training that we can take advantage of, and at night is the perfect time to do it because there's not much else to do."
"The one thing that I like about working at night is that I have a lot of freedom to do what I need to do and to also follow my interests."