Suits, Servers, and Quiet Hours: My Journey as a Bank’s IT Jack-of-All-Trades


I am a 30-year-old IT professional employed at a banking institution, where I am colloquially known as the ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ My expertise lies in first-level support, administration, and occasionally, networking. Despite not being the department head, I shoulder all the associated responsibilities, yet my remuneration does not reflect this. My superior, the IT department head, appears lackadaisical and boasts about his substantial earnings for minimal effort.

My official workweek spans 40 hours, but the onus of the entire IT department falls on me, necessitating round-the-clock vigilance over server operations. Alerts of server issues reach me via email, prompting me to address them remotely or on-site, often during my personal time, without additional compensation.

The higher management also imposes impractical dress codes, favoring suits, skirts, and high heels to maintain a veneer of professionalism. However, the nature of my duties often involves physical tasks that are ill-suited to such attire, leading to rapid wear and tear. When I opted for more practical clothing, my immediate supervisor vehemently objected, citing a breach of the bank’s image standards.

The crux of my story involves a directive from the company’s chief executive, who proposed ‘quiet hours’ to ostensibly allow employees to rest on weekends. This initiative also conveniently circumvented the issue of compensating overtime work. To enforce this, he instructed me to disable all email and remote desktop access during weekends, without exceptions.

Upon receiving this mandate via email, I contemplated the ramifications and, reflecting on my treatment as an employee, chose to comply without raising concerns about the potential consequences.

As instructed, I implemented an automated process to block access to emails and remote desktops from Friday evening to Monday morning. This decision also meant that I would not receive server updates, effectively exempting me from weekend duties.

The situation came to a head when the chief executive, unable to access his emails over the weekend, contacted me in distress. I reminded him of his explicit ‘no exceptions’ policy, which he had failed to exempt himself from. After some back-and-forth, he realized his oversight. Seizing the opportunity, I negotiated terms for my availability during off-hours, which included a pay raise and the provision of appropriate work attire for myself and my colleagues.

This act of ‘malicious compliance’ led to a significant improvement in my work conditions and served as a valuable lesson for the management to thoroughly conceptualize directives before implementation.

I appreciate your time in reading my account and welcome any constructive feedback or similar experiences you may wish to share.”

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As a seasoned IT professional, our protagonist is no stranger to the demands of first-level support, administration, and networking. Despite not holding the title of department head, they carry the weight of the entire IT department’s responsibilities. This discrepancy between their role and compensation is a common plight in the industry, where the efforts of dedicated employees often go unrecognized.

The 24/7 Vigilance of Server Operations

A typical workweek may be defined as 40 hours, but for those in charge of server operations, the clock never stops. Alerts and notifications don’t adhere to business hours, and our professional finds themselves addressing critical issues at all hours, often without additional compensation. This relentless dedication is a silent sacrifice made by many in the field.

Dress Codes vs. Practicality

The corporate world is known for its strict dress codes, but practicality often takes a backseat to appearance. For IT professionals, whose work can involve crawling under desks and handling dusty cables, suits and high heels are far from ideal. When our protagonist opts for more functional attire, they face resistance from management, highlighting a disconnect between image and the nature of the work.

‘Quiet Hours’ Directive: A Double-Edged Sword

The introduction of ‘quiet hours’ by the company’s chief executive was a well-intentioned policy aimed at providing employees with restful weekends. However, it also conveniently avoided the need to compensate for overtime work. Tasked with disabling email and remote desktop access, our professional complies, fully aware of the directive’s implications.

The Unintended Consequences of Compliance

The decision to follow orders without question leads to an unexpected turn of events. When the chief executive finds himself locked out of his own email during the weekend, he confronts the reality of his ‘no exceptions’ rule. This moment of reckoning opens the door for negotiation, allowing our IT professional to secure better terms for their availability and work conditions.

A Lesson in Leadership and Policy Making

This narrative of ‘malicious compliance’ sheds light on the importance of thoughtful leadership and the impact of policies on employees’ lives. It serves as a reminder for management to consider the practical aspects of their decisions and the people they affect.

In sharing this story, our IT professional invites others to reflect on their experiences and engage in a dialogue about the challenges and triumphs within the workplace. It’s a call to action for better understanding and appreciation of the work that goes on behind the screens, in the server rooms, and under the desks of the IT world.

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