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The core business of my employer is closely related to news. Just like journalists, we ideally need to respond as and when we know that some event has happened - though it is not always critical for every type of news. Our work delivery is usually fixed around an average of one hour (regardless of quantity).

Given that the relevant types of news are unpredictable, we work nearly on call, and sometimes this means having to work longer than our agreed business hours.

I am an assistant manager and have some authority over the workflow, as long as I can properly justify my actions: if my aim is to limit overtime and stress, is it fair to set a boundary whereby if we get a task that cannot be finished by end of working hours, I postpone it until the next day?

What else can I do to manage expectations with this kind of business activity, especially to prevent people from getting too tired (I myself am constantly tired and have lost hours and hours of sleep)?

P.S. As of now, we are slightly understaffed as well but I see no new hiring in the near future.

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    Have you got enough staff to provide 24/7 coverage with a shift rota? – AakashM Apr 25 '14 at 8:57
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    Yes, some tasks can be postponed until the next day. It's your call which tasks you want to postpone and unfortunately, you are putting your job on the line every time you make that call. You can alternate the people who are going to be on-call. You make it easier for them by allowing them to handle being on-call from home. Bottom line, either you or someone else needs to be available every time a call needs to be escalated. It's the nature of the business, you just have to find a way to be responsive regardless of how configure the human resources available to you. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 25 '14 at 11:15
  • Have the company's financials changed a lot since the "agreement" was made? – user8365 Apr 25 '14 at 18:53
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Is it fair to set a boundary whereby if we get a task that cannot be finished by end of working hours, I postpone it to the next day?

This is something only your manager can tell you. It comes down to weighing up the benefit of quick delivery versus the disadvantage of overtime and stressed employees (on the business more than the employees, although the two are related) (neither of which we know).

You could discuss the issue with your manager, specifically focussing on the overtime, which could result in stress and getting overworked.

What else can I do to manage expectations with this kind of business activity, especially to prevent people from getting too tired (I myself am constantly tired and have lost hours and hours of sleep)?

  • Let people work from home.

    Assuming this is possible for you, this can either be:

    • On some days, in which case they presumably don't work as hard, but work longer hours.

    • Or after hours, in which case someone might leave early to get home and deal with possible issues that might come up.

    Allowing people to work from home also reduces their travel, so they could work longer while having the same amount of free time.

  • Work in shifts.

    If everyone currently comes in at 8 and leaves at 5 (if there isn't issues), you could consider having someone come in at 10 and leave at 7 (or possibly at 5 if there isn't anything to do).

    The idea is to have full staff during 'peak' hours (if applicable) and less staff during other hours, but have this extend out further.

    The more extreme version of this is fully rotating shifts - someone comes in only when someone else is scheduled to leave. Not sure if this applies to you.

Just keep in mind that no solution will fix not having enough staff for the work that needs to be done. If this is the problem, the above solutions may not really apply / work. You could consider offering some nice perks / more money, but overworking your employees is not really a sustainable model.

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