How technology can enhance wellness in the data centre

Providing customers with 24/7 operational support is a critical part of maintaining operational resilience, but achieving it puts considerable demands on data centre staff. Engineers must not only be readily available on-site, but be properly supported, not only to enable them to deliver their best, but as part of their employer’s wider duty of care.

At the majority of data centres, 24/7 support will be achieved by shift-based routines, but this can make it difficult for engineers to manage their overall health, with irregular sleeping patterns too often becoming the norm, and healthy eating giving way to the convenience of fast food. In the long term, this will have a serious effect on engineers’ performance and wellbeing, and proper support measures must be put in place to proactively manage these concerns.

To begin with, consider the potential ways shift-based work can be used to its fullest advantage and made an attractive option for engineers. One of the key advantages of shift-based routines is that they provide ample opportunities to explore training and further education. Engineers should be properly supported in this regard, with online training being an especially effective way of helping shift engineers incorporate regular personal and professional development into their routines. Shifts can also make it easier for engineers to fit their work around childcare requirements, or other family obligations.

However, if engineers have indicated they are happy to work shifts for these reasons, the rota should be designed with everyone’s individual needs in mind, which means teams should be consulted throughout the design of the rota, and a certain level of flexibility should be factored in, in, to accommodate any changes in circumstance. Night shifts are an unfortunate necessity but should be kept to an absolute minimum and allocated fairly across the team, while activities or the sort discussed above should be actively promoted, in order to avoid any ‘dead time’. Regular reviews will help ensure the rota remains fit for purpose, and provide engineers with a forum to raise any questions or concerns.

With this agreed, managers should keep a close eye on engineers’ health and wellbeing throughout their shifts, in case any of the issues we touched on early begin to manifest. Regular exercise, a healthy diet (always have a fruit basket available!), and managed rest periods should be made readily available and actively encouraged.

Technology has a role to play when it comes to helping managers protect their engineers’ wellbeing, but a balance must be struck, as this must not become an over-reach and lead to concerns about privacy, as employers will naturally be concerned about providing their employers with access to highly personal data, such as sleep times. Wearable health monitors, such as a Fitbit, offers an ideal compromise in this regard, providing engineers with an easy way to monitor their daily steps, heartbeats, stress, and sleep patterns that still ensures such data remains fully confidential.

Making these available to engineers therefore provides them with a powerful tool for maintaining their wellbeing while on-shift and represents an excellent investment in their personal and professional growth. And, in turn, all these benefits will be passed on to the customers, as healthy, motivated engineers are successful engineers!

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