4-day workweek – a dream in India?

“Why aren’t organizations in India progressive like Europe? Companies in Europe are moving towards 4-day workweek. Look at us, we want to go back to 6-day workweek. 50 hours’ week is common in India! Why can’t we learn from Europe?”

Employees in India often complain about longer work hours and higher work days.

While we compare the time spent at work; unfortunately, we chose to ignore the focus on productivity in these countries:

  • How much time do they take to complete a piece of work?
  • How many people are needed to do it?

Unless, we shift our focus to productivity, reduced work days is a distant dream!

How about taking the first step and getting rid of productivity killers that are rampant in workplace:

I. Meetings top the list

  • “Have you invited Sonia for the meeting? I think she should join.” – We see several people attending meetings. Is everyone sitting in the room really needed? People sit through the meetings looking bored, few others checking their phones or tablets.  Wonder why? We invite folks due to multiple reasons – to make them feel included (or not to upset), give exposure, or a holistic perspective. Of course, these are important. But, it’s a soft balance between benefits and cost of lost time.
  • “Gosh, I have been running from meeting to meeting, didn’t get time to go through the pre-work”. People don’t come prepared – Pre-work, even when sent well ahead, is oft not read (sounds familiar?? We can get away with such behavior only here).
  • “Sorry, I got delayed, my last meeting got extended”. People don’t come on time – We wait for a while for a minimum number to join (punishing folks who are punctual). We start the meeting late; and along the way, others trundle in. Of course, they have to be briefed on points discussed thus far (to the frustration of others).
  • “Hey, as you were presenting this, I have an idea. Can we look at……” And the conversation steers off on a completely different path. Meetings digress in multiple directions. While we have passionate discussion and debate, the main agenda (for which the meeting has been called) remains undiscussed. And we set up a follow-up meeting, thus paving way to cycle of meetings!

Many a times, while sitting in such meetings, I wonder what Phileas Fogg, the protagonist in Around the World in 80 days (Jules Verne), would have felt and done?

II. Excessive Desire to Value Add…. 

  • Employee thinks, “Let me send this document, my manager will anyway value add (in other words, find fault)
  • Manager thinks, “Wish my team could deliver better work. Why do I have to check and correct everything.”

       This leads to a cycle of work, re-work and re-re-work! Leading to loss of productivity.

What if the employee delivers such quality of work that it needs no checking?

How about manager getting over the intense desire to value add even when the work is good (let me confess, I have done it at times). Of course, there are 100 ways by which something can be done better, but is it needed? What impact will it create? Does the time and effort involved outweigh the cost of rework?

I remember an incident when a leader told me, “I am not going to check. Whatever you deliver, I will send it to the Chairman”. I know the impact it had on me. True to his word, he didn’t check the document before sending to Chairman.

III Collaboration Overload

“This is good work, I think you should also discuss this with Roma. She has e-commerce background, she will bring a new perspective. Also, meet Mohan from marketing, he will give rich inputs from customer point of view.”

Thus, goes the cycle – meeting more and more people – to gather ideas and inputs. There is nothing wrong in taking inputs from people. It’s rather important to bring in multiple perspectives. But how much? When do we stop? Do we run the risk of losing accountability along the way (too many cooks spoil the broth, isn’t it?).

Walt Disney had said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”

I think that’s a message enough for employees in India!

All opinions expressed here are of the author. They do not represent that of any organization or entity.

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