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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Working hard or hardly working?

Recently, I saw a news-clip on BBC (or was it CNN?) where they were talking about a guy who just collapsed on the shop-floor and died of a massive heart attack. The cited reason was that he was being made to work enormous hours. His wife mentioned that for the past six months, either, he wasnt around home or was constantly fretting about work.

Well, no problems with the above. If a person collapses in a pile of dead meat, then he was probably working hard enough to that objective. What surprised me was the way one particular "Expert", expanded this very unique case to an overarching generalization - how everybody is being made to work harder and harder and that the increasing rate of suicide/suicidal attempts (this event happened in Korea) is a testimony to that.

Let me take it step-by-step. Firstly, I wonder where these "Experts" come from and how often the channel/newspaper simply fail to mention the credentials or even the general field in which they operate in. Consider if you were writing a thesis, would you get away without citing references properly? Can you, for example, say that space must be full of water because as per an "expert" the Earth is being carried around by a giant tortoise. Probably not. In fact, in some of the cases, the news agencies simply refer to them as "trusted source". Whose trusted source? Definitely not the audience's. Infact, I think that every news agency has a standby batallion of "Experts" and that every reporter has a split personality and he toggles between himself and his "trusted source" at his will. Off late, I have taken to watching the news hour fairly regularly trying to catch the same "expert" appear twice on unrelated fields. I reckon if I watch long enough, I would be able to catch them at "IT". Well, you will hear about it on this blog, for sure, if I hit success.

In any case, getting back to the point in contention, as I said, I was surprised just how serious that "Expert" made the problem sound like. I thought about similar conversations that I have had with my colleagues/friends and I felt that I need to set the record straight (A brain-wave from an unlikely source also helped).

Consider a year with all its glorious 365 days. For me, saturdays/sundays are off, so that would mean that I work for about (365-104)=261 days. But hang on a minute, I am supposed to consider the public holidays as well. A quick check revealed that at my location, I get to enjoy 18 holidays (all surprisingly fall on weekdays). So, that leaves me with (261-18)= 243 days. WOW, I am already feeling better. Let's take out my vacation/casual leave as well. On an average, I take about 40 days off for vacation/casual leave which leaves me with about 203 days of hard work. That is below four days in a week !! And I am not even counting the sick leaves and the actual working hours because they differ significantly for different people.

Nonetheless, I did a check on my working hours and it revealed a not-so-surprising statistic that I work about 20% of the time. It doesnt mean that I work only for two hours in a normal 10-6 routine; it means that of the total time at my disposal, I spend only about 20% in office (not necesserily working :-). No wonder, I am not stressed about work. You should do this exercise for yourself and you wouldnt be either. :-)

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