Long work hours

Striking a perfect chord between your work duties and family responsibilities is quite a challenge. Today, you are called to work, whenever there is a need to work irrespective of your personal commitments.

The trend of long and odd work hours took off in India largely due to the emergence of the outsourcing industry, which serves different countries in different time zones. However, long and erratic work hours come with a lot of problems especially health and related issues. It is not just about work hours. When you get so engrossed in work, you start to work even after you reach home or when you have taken a day off. Since we have US clients we try to respond to their emails in real time by working till late. However, companies are increasingly supportive these days. It is more matter of personal choice and how much responsibility you are willing to shoulder.

While everyone knows the importance of maintaining a balance, work tends to supersede leisure. It is surprising though that in nations such as the US, while in 1983, the lowest paid workers were more likely to work long hours; according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, by 2002 the most highly paid workers were twice as likely to work long hours as the lowest paid. However the repercussions are alike for both classes. We try to build a culture where balance is given utmost significance. In fact, we want to do away with people who have to work for long or extended hours. There needs to be a healthy balance between work and family responsibilities. Only in exceptional circumstances in a need or project based situation would we want people to stay longer. Otherwise, if people are working more, we actually ask them to explain. A healthy mix helps you on the job. Too much work causes fatigue tiredness etc thus leading to lower productivity.

Working from home is a successful concept. Software companies primarily initiated this practice with a view to enhance productivity apart from addressing infrastructure issues. Indians MNCs and mid-size software layers adopted this quite successfully. This does not apply to market facing roles as there is a need to work with people on day to day basis. Product architecture program management research individual contributor roles like developers role in sales etc are examples of successful work from home roles. Given the acceptance and success work from home will be a permanent practice for specific roles / functions, especially in new economy business.

The company remembers that the employees are first a human being than the employee of the company that creates a sense of belonging. Infosys BPO organizes fun activities which involve not only the employees, but their families too. Take, for instance, the Petite Infoscion Day where an employee’s two daughters “played to their heart’s content” at a mini amusement park created within the office premises. The employee says I got to know my colleagues as parents; it unveiled a different facet of their personalities.

Employees today are young and energetic, and they see no reason why the work atmosphere should not be fun and exciting. Keeping this in mind, a few companies have created a space for ‘chief fun officer’ or ‘chief entertainment officer’. Infosys BPO has a chief fun officer to promote fun at work-games, birthday celebrations and weekend getaways.

Even though many organizations are having fun in their own small way, the concept of a chief fun officer, however, is non-existent. A manager at a Bangalore based BPO says, “We do not have any organized parties in the office. There’s hardly any interaction with our colleagues after work. It’s sad that we work together for almost all our waking hours, yet we know so little of each other. It would be better if the office mixes work with fun.