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What it’s like being a 24-hour IT team in Parliament

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The Palace of Westminster and Westminster Bridge at night

IS 24/7 stands for Information Systems 24/7. The name of our team gives you a clue about our working hours. We work every day and night of the year except Christmas and Boxing Day. That means there is always someone from our team working a day or night shift to support the work of Parliament and its community.

We’re a diverse team and that’s reflected in our multi-disciplinary skills and experiences. To be successful in IS 24/7, you need to be a flexible team player, and a good communicator. This is because we wear different hats during the course of our working hours. 

An average day (or night) in the team 

A typical day shift in IS24/7 begins at 7am when we take over from the night team that has been covering the Digital Support Desk in Parliament. This involves working with our third-party suppliers to implement changes to our IT systems and services, and being the eyes and ears for any IT issues overnight.  

At the start of our day we cover the Support Desk for an hour before handing it over to the Support Desk team who do normal working hours. We then have some time for breakfast, usually visiting one of the friendly cafeterias on the parliamentary estate, before going to our daily catch-up meeting to discuss team workloads and agree on who is doing what for the day.  

Keeping the chambers running  

At this point our attention shifts to supporting our key customers, which include Hansard, the Table Office, Committees, clerks, and other teams whose work is crucial to the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament.

We work in a hybrid way, with some people on site to support parliamentary estate-based users and IT systems, and others working remotely. This enables us to meet our customers’ needs and also have a good work-life balance.  

A typical case for us, as an example, might be a call from a clerk—whose role it is to advise on parliamentary business—reporting an issue with the voting system used by members during ‘Division’, which is a term used for when members are being asked to vote on a motion.

For us to respond in a timely manner and resolve the issue quickly, we usually have someone in our team working close to where our customers are based. We’re also now using an IT service management mobile app, which gives our team members access to the necessary information to resolve issues wherever they are in Parliament.  

Five members of the IS 24/7 team around a table at an informal dinner
Peter (far-right) and members of the IS 24/7 team out for dinner.

The overnight shift 

A typical night shift in the 24/7 team starts at 7pm. Just like at the start of the day shift, we have a handover with the departing team. This helps us understand any live issues or work that needs to be done overnight. For instance, recently we have been assisting the network and cyber security teams to implement changes that make our network and infrastructure more resilient.  

These works are generally done out of hours because it’s less invasive for our customers. We also carry out pre/post-tests of our systems, services and network access, which might be impacted by the technical work being done. 'Out of hours' includes weekends and Bank Holidays too! 

And if you ever wonder whether Westminster goes to sleep, we can tell you there is always something happening in and around Parliament overnight.

On one of our recent night shifts, we were fortunate to see the rehearsal of the King’s coronation guard parades, which gave us a glimpse of some of the events that were going to happen on the day of the Coronation.

Interested in joining PDS? Browse our latest vacancies.

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