This is a brilliant idea but a forgivable and forgettable plan of action. The world is moving toward organic food, sustainable and inclusive growth, harmonic existence and a lot many other English phrases. When it comes to nature, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus. However, when about people, we are still unsure about how to get the best out of them.
There is one school of thought and action, best example of which are the tech companies. Google showed HRs around the world that you can pamper people on a daily basis, let go of constant monitoring, have them bring their dogs to office and even let the work on their pet projects from office (20 percent time) without going bankrupt.
Facebook has its Hackamonth and no one is complaining, so far. Skype’s new office in Stockholm, designed by pS Arkitektur, doesn’t look anywhere close to office, a kindergarten for grown-ups would be a more appropriate description. These are the sort of places where Alice will go to work if she doesn’t go to wonderland.
Why are these companies so intent on creating a parallel work-verse for their employees? These are all tech companies, the employees are all engineers. But is that it?
Ratan Tata doesn’t seem to agree with this work ethic for the top management (and for the British, as some newspapers pointed out). In a recent interview with The Times newspaper in London, he allegedly criticized the management practices of Corus and Jaguar Land Rover at the time of acquisition. His objection, as is understood, was the lack of willingness to “go the extra mile” and to leave early on Friday afternoons. It seems the first change brought about after the acquisition was to tie people to their desks on Friday afternoons.
In today’s economy and state of joblessness, very few will mind putting in a full day on Friday. Most of us are already working on Saturdays and at times, on Sundays. Then what is the fuss about? The poor guy put in words what was the unwritten code anyway? We all know companies all over the world exploited employees in before the recession (to avoid it), during it (not to make matters worse) and well after it (it’s not over yet!).
It’s not fair to push the case against Tatas. Their companies are in India are known for employee benefits and job security that compares only with jobs in the government sector. People felt offended not because of what he said but more because of what it implied. It meant that companies may not be looking at sales sheets, turnover data, profitability or productivity. They will be looking at the clock. If you leave early, you are not sincere, you are a bad example and you won’t be tolerated with.
I have a friend who works in the art/academic sector, definitely the most liberal when it comes to work timings. All was well until an enterprising old man was elevated from an administrative to managerial position. In an effort to prove his eligibility and loyalty to the organization, the grey head started making recommendations which shocked the other employees no end.
What happened next? People, who were not thinking of changing yet, started applying to other places. Those, who could not leave, started cribbing and new recruits turned up less and less on the joining day.
Was anything done to repair the damage? Nope. Those who are blind enough to implement such rules are blind enough to notice their impact too. This is not about one center or organization. All of us know people who hate their jobs for this harassment and hate themselves for putting up with it.
But there are many amongst us who are/have to implement these rules too. We need to sincerely realize that having designated working hour doesn’t mean the employees will suspend normal life for that duration.
Organizations rent the skills of a person, who has the agency to offer these to anyone else too. It is like any other hardware or tool we rent, we can use it anyway we like but with responsibility. If it is not returned in its original condition, we have to pay the damages. Only if men treated as rented tools!