Amazon India’s employees have just been told that they should stop taking office calls and replying to emails after 6pm. This is an effort to encourage overworked office workers to strike a healthy ‘work-life harmony’. Something India Inc desperately needs. Indian workplaces have long fostered this culture of working late = dedicated and virtuous. A rant against this environment by actor Naveen Polishetty’s character in the web series, What’s Your Status, is currently doing the rounds of the internet.
Much as you crib about attending meetings that stretch late into the evening, what would happen if you actually started leaving on time? Here’s what we think:
First off, as you climb down the steps of your tall glass office buildings, the evening sunlight blinds you, leaving you wincing. You’ve been so accustomed to leaving when it’s pitch dark, that you can’t help but react like a vampire. The traffic is worse than usual because now everybody is leaving on the clock. Once home, you are surprised to find your parents, who’re usually asleep by the time you make it back, are waiting to have dinner with you. Forced to sit across the table from your closest family members, you struggle to have an actual conversation. After years of communicating in only the basics, the idea of a real interaction with them is as unexpected as India’s obsession with IKEA. Which is to say, it didn’t exist until it actually happened.
And now you have so much free time, you actually don’t know what to do. Are you supposed to pursue your forgotten passion for photography, music, or whatever you thought was cool in college? Or are you expected to take up a new hobby in the ripe old age that is your late-twenties? Hell, even the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day has gone down. Now that you’re not working till almost midnight, there’s no excuse for a dozen chai-sutta breaks.
Your love life is possibly the worst hit by this whole ‘leaving office at a decent hour’ business. You’ve come to the tragic realisation that bae is tolerable only in short doses. Spending every other evening with him has you tearing your hair out in frustration. Who knew the man could go on for hours about antique watches and obscure jazz bands nobody else has heard of? And could he please shut up about that one time he got high as a kite in Amsterdam?
To avoid dying of boredom, you suggest a team outing at the friendly neighbourhood bar. Over flaming shots and karaoke, you realise you can tolerate, nay, actually even like your colleagues a little. They’re not half as bad when they’re not fighting at meetings. But after a few months, you miss typing furiously at your keyboard at 10pm, bragging about doing overtime without pay and giving your best years to the company. And so, slowly, so that people don’t notice, you begin staying well beyond the mandated 6pm – a couple of days in a week at a time. Fast forward a little more, and congratulations, you’ve turned into that annoying colleague who ribs people about taking half days when they leave on time.
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