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We Are Like This Only!

Whether people are office-centric or create complicated work conditions, there are certain things that work in India, but may be frowned up elsewhere

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Over the last two weeks, there have been a few articles going viral. In France, employees are heavily discouraged to mail or read emails after 6 pm. This is in addition to their 35 hour work week. Germany has gone one step ahead and is considering banning communication after work hours. Research conducted among nurses in Sweden indicates that a 6 hour working day boosts productivity and leads to greater personal satisfaction. The practice is being extended to other private firms in Sweden (e.g. Toyota Service Center). It is not co-incidental that such friendly behavior emerges in European countries. In fact, I once read a research article that suggested the best countries to work in were in Europe (except UK, Turkey) or Australia. The bottom 3 in that list didn't come as a surprise. China, South Korea and India. While the 'Indian way' of working has been acclaimed the world over for its aptitude, planning and robust execution; there are certain characteristics that define us as a race. Well, it is applicable to most of us!

We love each other's faces!
Our love for 'Facetime'; for our colleague's and junior's faces is legendary. Given that we come from the land where mythological characters have multiple faces, our love for each other's faces is understandable. Instead of the popular adage that 'time is money', the popular adage for our times is 'facetime is money'. It stems from our deep rooted desire to be a part of a larger community and always be in the company of each other. The longer a guy stays in office, the more delayed into the night his email is, the more late night his flight on a Friday is; the more respected he is. One of my batch mates once described his supervisor of relapsing into a fit of 'part convulsion, part constipation' when he suggested to him that he had finished all his work by 6 pm and wanted to go home. After all, unless your face burns the midnight oil, there is little merit in moving upward.

Let's get the 'desi' flavor in!
If you have noticed any sitcoms on television, the Indian character is always shown in a certain way. Doesn't take vacations. Sits till late every day. Does nothing on Friday evening. Overweight. No physical activity - running, jogging or playing a game. While such a caricature might be funny to western audiences, we take pride in our emerging belly as everybody likes to be associated with a 'khaata-peeta-ghar' tag. In fact, a research quoted by the New Straits Times suggested that Indian service employees are the most obese amongst all races. While others might cringe at the prospect of being the most overweight race, we clearly don't. The same batch-mate, I alluded to earlier, referred to the convulsions of his supervisor when he realized that my batch-mate would go running every morning. His supervisor's argument was simple; why can't he use that one hour to deliver more output at work?

We love Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his approach of taking everything to the end!

Have you ever wondered why we always have a late night before a key meeting or a workshop? Why everything seems to change or be done in the last minute? The answer is very simple; it comes from our deep rooted admiration for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. MS Dhoni's success by having taken matches to the last over and delivering in most cases has left an indelible mark on our psyche. So we continue our childhood obsession of putting in a late night before the exams to our professional lives.

Let's go completely hardcore and create 'xxx' value!
It is deep rooted in our society to deliver a little more than what is asked for. If your boss asks for 'x', we push our juniors to go hardcore and deliver 'xxx'. It is after all a larger philosophy to be office centric and stretch more and more. Hence, our oft expressed attribute to create work 24 * 7. In the name of 'excellence', we always ask some questions to push everybody to find their inner calling. Can we add more sources? Can we do this better? Should we go into the next level of detail? Why don't we do this too?

We love to complicate working conditions!
The Google campus is famous for many things; Google Pod to take a quick nap, showers, gyms, etc. But they are not really relevant for our race. Although a lot of Indian offices offer such things, but who wants to take these up. It is criminal to go to the gym to waste time and be healthy. We would rather sit in our cubicles and pile on the kilos instead. And we abhor the concept of 'work from home'. It is spiritually draining to miss out on the office atmosphere. It is an extension of our earlier principle of our undisputed love for each other's faces.

In summary, there is nothing else to be said. We are like this only!
Well, almost across the board! If it wasn't, you wouldn't have been reading till here!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
management society work culture employment human resources

Sandeep Das

The author, Sandeep Das, is an MBA from IIM Bangalore, a management consultant, the author of “Yours Sarcastically” and a columnist.

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