24/7 work pressure: Is there any end?

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April 13th, 2012 M Saraswathy

A recent survey by an HR firm says majority of public sector employees feel that they are expected to be available by their employees 24/7.  Here the figure for public sector employees is significantly higher than that of the private sector. But the question is: Don’t we all undergo it?

Tell me, whom among all of you switches off his/her cell-phone as soon as you leave office? Or, don’t check messages at home from your bosses?  Further, would not look at an official mail when you are out of the workplace. After all, who among us can attempt to earn our superior’s wrath?

Work-life balance is something that has always remained skewed towards work from time immemorial. You cannot afford to miss a call from your boss or not promptly respond to their messages even if you are away on a holiday or a social event. This is regardless of whether you are a public or a private sector employee. I would even go to an extent of saying that in a public sector company, one can at least give excuses of a weekend, unlike the private sector where even a Sunday may mean work. Taking into consideration the whimsical hire and fire policies, one just cannot be callous about these issues.

While technology has definitely played an important role of maintaining this status quo, the work culture is also to be blamed. Frankly, how many of us have ever turned down any call on a Sunday saying that it being a holiday, we would not work. For professions such as ours, a holiday may end up giving additional pressure to work and produce better content than the normal days.

The western economies have accepted the work-life balance principle as an essential HR tool in their companies. No matter how much ever is the work pressure, a holiday is always considered a holiday.

If one looks at the present survey, the Indian scenario is quite clear. It has been revealed that more than half the employees handle official matters during private time. Also, most employees (79 per cent) also shared that they would receive work-related phone calls/e-mail even on a holiday. Shocking? No, this is completely normal. Also considering that I am one of them.

Here we have come to terms with the fact that once you start earning, work never seems to get over. Though one cannot expect any miracle to happen overnight with the boss shooting an e-mail strictly prohibiting one from working after office hours, one can hope to see a slight change in the HR practices. With Indian firms gradually adapting western work practices, it may not be very far  when one can safely switch off the cell-phone while on leave. That is, neither having to answer the 101 questions of the angry boss later for this behaviour nor having to give excuses for doing so. Happy hoping!

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9 Responses to “24/7 work pressure: Is there any end?”

  1. Rajnish Says:

    Really eye opener.

  2. Saraswathy Says:

    More than work-life blance, isn’t it carelessness on part of the executive? Also, do you mean to say that just because we answer private calls or log onto Facebook during office hours, it gives us work-life balance?

  3. B S Says:

    How many of us can claim we don’t do private work during official hours? Facebooking, answering personal emails, attending calls from home, paying bills, visiting childrens’ school - we do all of it during work time. I should say here, once when I had been to a PSU customer service centre to pay my bills the two women sitting at the counter were reading some magazine. Looked up after I called out 3 times and handed over a form and went back to reading. When I returned they took the cheque and gave the receipt. Fine they did their job. They did other things too… So why crib? We do get our work life balance.

  4. Saraswathy Says:

    Now, how does one define urgent? Every caller always has a message to be delivered urgently. That is when he/she calls. Is there any way one can strictly identify and take only ‘urgent’ calls? Isn’t this more subjective? Would like to know from you Mr.Om.

  5. Om Says:

    I don’t mind receiving URGENT messages/calls away from work. It only enhances decision making.
    That said, I don’t take frivolous calls/messages on holiday, neither does anybody else in our company including our Boss!.

  6. Saraswathy Says:

    Also, i believe that Mr.Rajagopalan has raised a very valid point. However, i guess we still have not reached that point when we can afford to do this. It is definitely worth a try. Who knows, if we all make this a habit, the Indian bosses might start accepting this behaviour.

  7. Saraswathy Says:

    Yes, that is true during the initial phases. But the business would grow at one point of time when you will have others to assist you in this job. Maybe in this particular case, it is for the person to decide whether he/she actually wants to maintain this balance or not.

  8. Rajagopalan Says:

    The fifth paragraph of your blog gives an answer. Western people are clear in their life style…….work while you work and play while you play……..whereas we (Indians) follow work while you work and work while you play !!. This may be due to the following factors:

    1. Our inherent nature of being subservient (age old custom and more so during British Raj).
    2. Since we Indians were not very materially rich say 30 years back and we want to improve our lot.

    3. Indian companies tend to be task and work masters than western companies.

    I work outside India in a company. I do not have blackberry. I have a mobile which I turn off after office hours/on weekends. I rarely check my emails during my vacation.
    I think if you make your point clear and be firm………you may be able to obtain some balance.

  9. Mohan Thomas Says:

    What about the self employed? They have to be on guard for 24 hours, as the business is their own baby. On the higher philosophical level, life is a balance. Most of the humans have submitted their life to slavery(monetary benefits) & we have no choice.


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