Agencies, make burnout a racing game again

by Ned Hallett
As Digital Marketing Manager and JAM’s primary pair of lungs, I provide the JAM-y take on the ever-evolving worlds of DevOps, SaaS, MACH - and acronyms yet to be coined.
Published on June 2022

Out-of-hours specialists represent a new weapon in the war against burnout. And while wellness initiatives, office perks and salary increases all tackle symptoms, this service gets to the core.

And well…it’s about time.

The situation as is 

The ‘always on,’ 24/7 world of tech has placed impossible demands on developers and other IT professionals.

Devs variously cite unrealistic deadlines, the presumption that they’ll stay late to get the job done, management with no grasp of their remit, and of course, the dread of being ‘on-call.’

To some extent, ’twas ever thus.

But in the last few years, the industry has reached breaking point.

 Covid-19 has given many a taste of just how different things might be.

People logged on in their pajamas; no planes dropped out the sky. Offices were spread across continents; the Monday mornings rolled on just the same.

This is part of what’s driving tech’s own Great Resignation, with only 29% of IT workers reporting a ‘high intent,’ to remain in their current roles, and that number reaching even lower depths in the younger age brackets.

So, caught between the pincers of mental fatigue (62% of IT professionals report feeling physically and emotionally drained) and employees’ taste for freedom, what can agencies do to ensure people stick around?

What’s already been tried

The responses to burnout range from the cynical to the downright kooky, with some moderate successes thrown in for good measure.

In this latter group, we find the quasi-medical interventions.

Corporate mindfulness has long been a figure of fun, but there is clear evidence it decreases employee stress, and lessens the impact of occupational burnout. However, this can be a gateway to the more vague (and cynical) ideas of ‘wellness,’ and ‘self-care,’ with some workplaces promoting exercise, diet and ‘walking meetings,’ to combat stress.

Some of these are indeed effective, but one can’t help notice the underlying message: the work itself is so demanding that the average individual will not cope.

Or, ‘you don’t have to be Zen to work here, but it helps.’

Towards the bottom of the barrel, the gimmicks emerge.

Candy floss machines. Games console. Even living trees (photosynthesizing plaintively under flickering halogen ) in some attempt to ‘naturalize,’ the work place.  This kind of thing – which we might call the ‘flowers-for-hours’ approach – has led to many decrying the infantilization of the work place, and you can see why.

But that does bring us neatly onto what we think really works.

It’s about time

Trawl the subreddits and message boards frequented by the technically able and you will find the most precious resource to be minutes on the clock.

Out-of-hours deployments, on-call and the impositions of extra duties running late into the night are the number-one grievances.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, few think their problems will be solved by a slide connecting finance to HR.

So, how does out-of-hours support work?

Out-of-hours specialists do things agencies do – except they do them out-of-hours.

They also do things agencies can sort of do (but not really), which means, for example, supplying real DevOps engineers as opposed to throwing an app developer in at the deep end.

In our case, this is achieved via a follow-the-sun support model, bespoke support platform Mission Control, and years of experience functioning seamlessly as an extension of our agency partners’ teams.

Follow the sun

With offices spread across four continents, we can have a qualified engineer on any issue,  any time – so no more phone-by-the-bed support.

As we like to say, it’s 9am somewhere. 

Mission Control 

Our full-stack support service is powered by bespoke platform Mission Control. This allows us to monitor and triage even the most complex, distributed app, from solutions built on popular experience platforms like Sitecore and Kenitco to entirely custom jobs.

We’re a team spanning certified cloud, platform and DevOps engineers, so we can always cover the whole stack.

An agency’s agency 

Supplying these kinds of services to the likes of Ogilvy and Grey, we’ve developed the right culture and skills to slip seamlessly into any team and start adding value.

We can work white label or as your dedicated support partner, keeping you in the loop through dedicated comms. If that sounds good, check out our agency partner program.

Going forward

We believe dedicated out-of-hours support is a fresh approach to the problem of burnout. It gives developers what they want, while ensuring agencies can keep clients happy.

So, if you don’t want to be met with reproachful eyes when you announce 60-plus hour weeks will be compensated with an office gerbil , just get in touch.



With partners across the USA, Europe and APAC, we provide a truly global service. So wherever you or your clients are based, contact us today to find out what we can do.