Chapter 70. On-Call Rotations that People Want to Join

Miles Bryant, Chris Evans, and Suhail Patel

At Monzo, on call is so popular that our rotations have a waitlist. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for most organizations. Our industry has resigned itself to the idea that on call is painful and a necessary evil. Thousands of developers and SREs put themselves through misery and burnout because it’s part of the job. But must it be that way?

We don’t think so. Our efforts show that a well-designed, human-centric on-call process pays off by having enthusiastic, motivated, and effective engineers on our rotation. How did we get here? By putting people first.

On callers are human. This is what makes on call so powerful; when safety systems, resilient architecture, and automated remediation stop working, no machine even comes close to matching the capability of a human to react and adapt to a novel failure in a complex system. Unlike machines, humans cannot withstand 24/7 uptime or sustained 100% CPU usage. Burnout sucks; it sucks for the people around them, it sucks for the company losing a smart and capable engineer, but it really sucks for the person. Effective on call is also ...

Get 97 Things Every SRE Should Know now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.