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Varying Work Styles

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“Man, what a hard-worker!!!”

Isn’t that a common exclamation that we make when we see someone spending long hours in office? Yes, it is. Is it really justified? Maybe it was, in the previous generation. Is productivity proportional to the time in office? No, definitely not!

The office-goers world was totally different some twenty years ago. It was a world of papers, files and folders, stacked in wall length cabinets. Smell of stationery was strongly associated with clerks and their ledgers. People get into office at 9 AM, work, lunch break at the stroke of noon, work again, leave for home at 5 PM. Longer hours meant over-time and additional pay. Time table was in place and everyone was happy.

Are we anywhere in the vicinity of traditional office setup today? Another big no! Lets face it! We are far away, miles and miles away. Many offices have global presence today. People work at odd hours with colleagues across the globe. Every bit of existing information is digitized and the new ones are computerized from the start. Offices without computers are offices of stone age. Scheduled work is no more a reality, surprise work is. In the pace that we are currently in, it is the sandwich generation, us, who have seen the past and playing in the present suffer the transition. We are loaded with expectations from our superiors whose mindset is locked back in a different world but are forced to perform in the generation next. Result is a mob of confused professionals, clueless, directional-less and tired, physically, mentally, literally!

Sam is known for his dedication to work. He slogs long hours at office to accomplish his task. Pam is dedicated too. She completes her task in half the time and heads home. Who would we claim efficent? Someone who works longer or someone who does it faster? Assuming the quality of food is great in both, which restaurant would you prefer? One with longer or shorter service time? Productivity at office is sometimes unfortunately and wrongly assessed based on the duration of toil than the results achieved. Today’s world need more smart-workers than hard-workers. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, we’ll have to invent innovations.

Sam has his reasons. As a bachelor in a mansion, office gives him plush conditions to hang around, with cool colleagues as friends and dinner allowances too. Who cares what he does in office after hours? Why would he want to head elsewhere post working hours if his convenience was going to earn him some “hard-working” credits from his bosses? Sam, of course, would complete his task at his pace and it wouldn’t be right to condemn him so long as the job is done on schedule. But why should Sam’s style become a comparison factor to condemn Pam who does her job within office hours and head back to attend to other priorities in her life. How fair can that be? Little does Sam realize that when his life-style changes to accommodate things other than work, he would be forced to follow Pam’s policy, whereas his superiors would look at his sudden change in timings as performance slow down.

Mobile offices and flexible work life has become more of a necessity than a luxury today. Why spend hours on the road fighting traffic and pollution when the same work can be done in the comfort of one’s home? Energy and time saved thus can be utilized in the actual work that is to be done. From an office’s perspective, employees working from home save the company’s electricity and amenities charges. Win-win situation! Agreed, self discipline and dedication is required on the part of the employees and that would be come upon invariably or he wouldn’t be able reach the targets expected out of him to account for his paycheck.

John’s dad calls him a slacker. He goes to work late, leaves early and sometimes works from home. His monitor is never on without a social networking site or a chat window minimized. But his manager at work has great regard for him. He is a top performer at work and his appraisal charts are always ahead of average. Is John a magician really? Maybe he is, a magician who knows to manage time. John has his philosophy. He is more productive when his mind is less stressed. He allows himself the time to unwind to ease his mind. A relaxed mind gears up and rises faster to challenges and performs better. When performance increases, time to achieve results decreases leaving him with time again to unwind and the cycle goes on. John is happy and his boss is happy. Win-win situation again!

John’s philosophy is still unfathomable to Joe who burns his day at office. Joe stresses himself out with long working hours, commits mistakes because of his over-worked brain, puts more effort on re-work which calls for more mistakes again, thereby increasing more time at work and so on till he gives it all up. Poor Joe either calls himself dumb or cultivates jealousy and blames John’s manager for favoritism. More the number of Joes, more is the disharmony at work, pulling down productivity even further. Despite knowing all this, it is a sad truth that many offices still prefer Joes to Johns.

Work-life balance has become a hard to buy commodity. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Nobody want dull Jacks to work for them and a dull Jack wouldn’t definitely want to work to earn a living when there is no living to do. With ever-changing life-style and work-style, isn’t it not time yet for amendments and refinements? Shouldn’t corporates wake up to the truth of the day and acknowledge employees for what they are and what they do as against old prejudices or false charades? The consolation is that many organizations are coming out of their slumbers now and taking steps to work out methodologies that helps them grow bigger and bigger keeping their employees’ life better and better. If such practices rub onto to everyone as well, world would not only become a better place to live but a better place to work as well.

P.S: Written for a business magazine.

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22 thoughts on “Varying Work Styles

  1. “Each to his own!” where work-style matters!! While there are many companies that realize this, many many others don’t! Well said here, hope the article opens a few more eyes 🙂

    And congrats on the magazine part!! Good going 🙂

  2. By the way, thanks for the blog. Reading your blog in the middle of work is really relaxing. “A relaxed mind gears up and rises faster to challenges and performs better”. 🙂

  3. Irundhalum neenga Fund – a ivlo directa thittirukka koodadhu.. 😀

    and reg the “sandwich generation” concept – from talks with elderly ppl i think every single generation felt the same way.. this is eternal.. bcos world has never been the same for more than 100 years .. for the past few 100s

  4. Double Like – Shubbu’s comment about Fund 🙂
    Congrats on the business magazine entry 🙂 Well written. One comment though…you can’t call every facebookers as Johns of the world! There are quite a few that I know of who just kill time on Facebook during work hours and then end up working late! This is a totally separate category 😀

  5. All things well said but in reality in our country companies do prefer people staying late than the productive people who look for work life balance. It all goes behind the company as a culture. In a company where everyone works for 8 hours there is a tendency to leave and do serious and sincere work for 8 hours. Even though our companies do follow other things from their parent companies when it comes to time, dress. It goes behind as a culture for our country. We are taught to work hard and win rather than enjoy your work and be peaceful. So it takes some time may be the next generation will have everything what we hope to have. As we are enjoying the benefits which were not there in the previous generations.

  6. @bsridevi: Thanks sri!

    @AN2D: My intention was to represent people as employees irrespective of gender differences. No feminist or chauvinist conclusion here 🙂

    @Meens: Time should bring about realizations. If this article does open eyes, nothing like it. Thanks for the wishes. Will let you know definitely when it comes on print.

    @Harsha: Thanks Harsha! Lets start acting. Companies will follow suit. Relaxing blogs? I’m happy but I’d be happier if some posts prove thought-provoking too. 🙂

    @Subbu: Naan generala ezhudunain. Neenga ellam adu Fundnu nenacha naan porupilla 🙂 you are right…transition is inevitable…the reason i meant sandwich generation is because for us, the transition has been very drastic that the previous generation finds it a little difficult to connect to us and vice versa, thanks to IT and globalization. but i believe, it wudn’t be so difficult for us to connect with the next generation since we’ve already triggered the technological transition.

    @Gaba: Fundu again! Paavam Fundu….he has just started learning to freak out and we are all condemning him 😀 Thanks. I totally agree. I don’t support slackers at work. My point was to allow employees to work in their own style to achieve best results.

    @Lakshmipathy: Thats exactly what I was trying to point out in this post. If we look at it deeply, it is the employees who define the culture of a company just like how the citizens define a country’s culture. culture in its actual meaning is the life style of folks of a particular period. it is something that evolves and should evolve over time, else there wouldn’t be any progress of mankind. we’ll just have to wait for the evolution to happen in work style too which is believe is not too far as many corporates have started waking up to reality.

  7. idhula oru miga peria category of workers a neenga ignore pannitinga..

    I’m talking about the Subbu and VV of EMC heydays..

    No one knows when we work.. but we work.. no one knows what and why we do things.. we were always either @ home or in the cafeteria.. we didnt slack.. we didnt work smart.. but we did some crap which worked out.. we had awesome time though 🙂

  8. Hey Good one and well said. In most cases its just us who creates this work culture. Companies gives us flexibility to get a quality product. I have little exp working at India and USA, i see a huge work-culture difference between these countries.
    They have all these flexibility, but at the same time they use it at the right time and don’t miss use them. Self-discipline matters here, unfortunately we don’t have that. Not just in IT anywhere in our country.
    They come at 9 and leaves sharp at 5, they spend quality time in between. They don’t spend time chatting at cafe. They don’t waste time. They complete the work at the given deadline.
    I believe, its us who has to make the change here.

    P.S I am talking about most of the cases, not all.

  9. @Subba: Hee hee hee EMCla work illanu decenta solraiya subbu? 🙂 It was going great for you guys but I think you made people made the right decision to move out at the right time. Edu ennavo…I’m indebted to EMC than u guys for the time it gave off to VV soon after my delivery. Adu mattum illana, sathyama eppdi manage panni irupoom yengalukey theriyala 🙂

    @Deepa: Thanks. We all know how the work culture is at the western countries and we long for it too. Yet, like u said, many of us end up doing otherwise and create a culture thats difficult for everyone…thats the sorry state here.

  10. As I was reading this article, I had flashes of memory of my colleagues which are as apt as Pam, Sam, Joe, John. Though I am not working now but from whatever experience I have earned(just 2 yr) I believe strongly companies work culture play an immense role. Companies should realise their responsibility or role is not just to increase their profits or brand name, setting right work environment automatically gets them there. Once we are in such a company we are bound to follow there way of working.
    Speaking of IT companies, which flaunt about flexible working hours, I think they don’t realise that flexible work hours just makes employees less productive(though one can enjoy flexibilty).Fix the hours 9-5, this is one thing we should learn from Government offices.
    Nice writeup Archu, glad I stumbled on your blog 🙂

  11. Archu, Of course it is thought provoking along with relaxing. Keeping my first step towards the action…
    By the way, new theme is good though i miss the vintage ArchuzArchive. 🙂

  12. @Shi: Pam, Sam Joe and John are there in every office. I’m sorry to disagree with you on the 9-5 schedule at all times. Considering that we are working in global organizations, strictly 9-5 might restrict communication across borders. Flexi work style is very important. Where everything goes wrong is when companies put a different meaning to flexi work style. They translate flexi work hours as unlimited extended work hours…we as employees should make sure we don’t buy it…thats done, things will be right here too as I am hoping it would in the future.

    Thanks Shi for stumblin into my blog. Do keep stumbling more often 🙂

    @Harsha: I liked the previous template too but everything needs a change now and then…else, it’ll get so monotonous. You’ll get used to this new style after a couple of regular visits 🙂

  13. After having worked in both type of companies I can surely related to your idea that spending long hours is not a measure of productivity, but I differ on your view on social networking. It might be relaxing but it also kills a lot of time.

  14. @Archu : Yeah I agree, at all times and everybody following 9-5 timings is not possible but at whatever employee level possible it must be applied.
    If one still feels it doesn’t work, then atleast they should fix the number of working hours.
    Unfortunately most claiming flexi work style mean as you have mentioned, extended hours. Hope it changes soon.

  15. @Binnya: Social networking kills time? Maybe it does kill as much time as we spend in the pantry with the coffee mug…or the time that we spend attending meetings that we have no clue about. Different people have different ways to unwind. Social networking is one. Whether it kills time or not depends on an individual’s self-dicipline.

    @Shi: Here I totally agree with you. Every employee should have a proper working hour schedule that is suitable for the kind and nature of work they do. Just because they have a conference call to take at 10 PM, they should not be expected to work from 9AM to 10PM, like how it happens in many offices still.

  16. Archana – I dont understand what is that you want to conclude finally. I am just surprised, in software field for any class one expert, will it be really possible to complete his/her work by 6. I agree good productivity is definitely an asset to the organization. But at the same time we cant expect the same from every head in the firm. That is where team work, communication, etc etc comes into the pic. Individual’s productivity mainly comes from his/her life style and background.
    May be well pampered, grown up in secure and educated families, might concentrate on how productive is the child is going to be in the future. The built up instincts on most of the middle class/poor(rather i would choose to tell not great,foolish families) people will work on their brain till they die, unless its specifically focused and taken care. And ofcourse there are nuts from RECs and rich families as well.

    The article sounds like indirectly advise the companies to take only 6 PM productive people, (which is impossible) and oost/not to take the others which is not at all fair. As a team member every employee is supposed to contribute to team work where you can uplift the weaker members and add to their experience.

    I am a big fan of your blog, but the past 2 or 3 write ups, I am not much impressed. (for various reasons).

  17. @Anonymous: Oops! That was rude dude! Following your suit…

    “I am just surprised, in software field for any class one expert, will it be really possible to complete his/her work by 6.” —– Oh really? Now, I’m surprised to know that it is an impossible feat! Indian labour laws need some serious revisions I suppose!

    Pampered educated families, rich, middle class families???? ——- Hello! My post has no reference or inference based on the economic status of an individual. If you are voicing your opinion, don’t blame it on my post.

    Indirect advice to companies to recruit only 6PM productive people? – HA HA HA! Funniest interpretation ever!

    Its unfortunate that my blog has to disappoint a fan lately. But its also unfortunate that my blog is a non-commercial page where I give expression to the mumblings in my head rather than invent mumblings to impress readers, especially readers who prefer to stay anonymous when they critic. If you like my blog, be my guest. If not, sorry, I cannot help it!

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