The Daily Thought Express

Will Employers Reqlinquish their Digital Leash?

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In France, President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party is about to vote through a measure that will give employees for the first time a “right to disconnect”. Soon companies of more than 50 people will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours – normally in the evening and at the weekend – when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails. It is an imitative that has been in the pipeline for months now and was globally mocked as a socialist move. There exist several press images of Government Inspectors snooping on industrious and hard work workers. It was largely panned as a move that intervened into the private lives of dedicated employees and growing industries that are making their break in a competitive environment. However, is it really as silly as it sounds?

 

The last 25 years has been dominant by great and rapid change. The internet and ease of access to various modes of communication has shrunk the world and has brought people together. However, as the proverbial saying goes, every positive is usually accompanied with a negative, the digitalisation of communication and transfer of information has significantly impacted the life of the employee. Use of laptops, smart-phones and internet is now a universal phenomenon and almost every working person has access to both. It also means access to e-mails is now prevalent 24/7 as opposed to 8 hours a day at the office before the technology explosion.

 

Impact of Technology Explosion

 

All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant. Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails – they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.

 

With the technology explosion there is now a real threat to the personal life of an employee. When you’re home, you’re not really at home and this poses a great danger to relationships. There is tremendous physical, psychological and emotional distress caused by a total inability to rest.

 

A survey by industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India in 2012 showed that due to demanding schedules and high stress levels, nearly 78% of corporate employees in India sleep less than six hours a day, leading to severe sleep disorders. The survey pointed out that 21% of the people in the sample suffered from depression, the third most prevalent lifestyle disease, ahead of high blood pressure and diabetes.

 

 

The ‘So What’?

 

India is a country notorious for the little regulation in favour of professionals and graduate employees (anyone that is not a labourer). This has led to incredibly high work hours, working weekends, increased stress and discomfort in personal relations due to all of the above. It’s very evident that the employers have to take initiative on controlling the work hours of employees and ensuring that their employees remain stress free. A conscious and concerted effort to ensure that there is minimal work related communication off-work hours will go a long way in not only relieving the employee of work stress but also in improving his/her work creativity and efficiency.

 

A regulation like what is being passed in France will not be passed in India unless there is a serious uprising from the working class regarding work stress. This is an under-current of unhappiness at the workplace which does not get communicated to those charged with governance as there is a reluctance to speak about it. There is apprehension as to how it would be construed. However, as the adage goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Unless there is some noise made about it, it will continue to remain in a state of state decisis. Even if regulators fail to take notice, employers will take notice and will encourage activities for the welfare of their employees.

 

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Can prejudice be eradicated or is it here to stay?

Racism is a global issue. The populous across this planet has been subject to some form of discrimination due to their ethnicity. We see this in various avenues including business, music, movies and even sports! One would say the thought of dividing by colour of skin is draconian, why is it still so prevalent today?

As an Indian, and having been brought up in India, it’s rather unnatural for me (and pretty much everyone else I know) to make fleeting judgements on people based on their skin colour. It’s unnatural for us to vocally or physically persecute someone due to their colour. Therefore, racism is non-existent in India, right? But why is this so? How is that, a country with a population of 1.27 billion, has minimal racism as compared to countries with far lesser population? Are Indians psychologically superior? As much as I’d love to subscribe to that school of thought it’s, rather obviously, codswallop.

While India may be more tolerant of racism in terms of skin colour, there exists a deep rooted prejudice with regard to caste and religion. Regular honour killings, murders, gang wars, mass murders and genocides happen for the above reason. Even in countries where there exists only one religion and one caste there exists some other forms of discrimination. Prejudice due to religion, sex, education and the most common one, discrimination based on money and power. While the reasons for prejudice vary from one country to the other, prejudice itself remains a universal constant.

It’s interesting to note the results of a study that conducted by Yale researchers, recently. A group of monkeys was put together with another group of monkeys and on evaluation after sometime, it was noted that they formed likes and dislikes with certain elements of either group, based on particular characteristics that were common/uncommon.

Prejudice is inherent in human beings. It is a primal instinct at work and has evolved itself over so many years to manifest itself through mediums, which are religion, sex, class etc. Does that mean no matter how many years go by, Prejudice will always exist? When we look back on Earth 100 years later will we still be fighting a losing battle against racism and religion?

I have lot of faith in humanity and I’d like to believe that going forward people will change their mind about lot of non-issues like religion, sex, skin colour and creed. Martin Luther King could galvanise a community and beseech to a nation to accept this community successfully, then I’m sure similar attempts to bond people through awareness and education will definitely help bring down harmful prejudices to tolerable levels.

The Man Who Wore a T-Shirt to the Reception

A very good morning Bloggers. As the hype for the date, 11.11.11, ends,  there was nothing special for me. I still experienced a Friday night of overpriced drinks and food at pubs and restaurants, terrible evening traffic, stags only not allowed and ofcourse the night ending at 11 o clock( symbolic eh).

 

Its been a rather eventful week for me. Ive attended about 5 events of wedding related parties and receptions. And what I realised was that wearing a T-shirt to a reception is some sort of a social taboo. After 4 receptions/cocktail parties of wearing shirts, I decided Ill swing by to the last reception wearing a T-shirt. Good choice, I thought; terrible mistake, I was told. Right from the off, entering the massive marriage hall, people looked on at me like I was the escaped Cheetah from the zoo. Ofcourse, at this point I didnt feel too bothered about it. I thought it was the big wedding gift in my hand. As we proceeded to inside the hall, which was rather empty due to the timing of our arrival, I noticed that the handful of people there were only wearing shirts. My friend with me made it a point to indicate everyone there were wearing shirts but feigned consolation “Its ok, machan. Dont worry”.  As we waited for a 4th friend to join us, who is typically late, people thronged to the stage. Needless to say, all were wearing shirts. Even those 6 year old kids who are forced to come to this type of ceremonies were wearing shirts. I wish the evening ended there but I was yet to experience the worst due to the luck brought by the dreaded T-shirt.

 

The reception was slowly drawing to a close, Mr.Punctual was drawing late than usual, my friends and I decided to give the gift to the couple without him. We did. As we walked down from stage, he showed up(yes the awesomeness of the t-shirt did it). We were insisted by my friend to climb on stage again and take another photo with the couple. We did. Then we trudged to dinner and were informed the veg food was over less than 2 minutes back(bloody T-Shirt!!).

 

We were famished and decided to eat out. Punctual suggested we go to Shri Mithai for a dinner since it’d be open to 11(ding ding ding) o clock. We traveled through the labyrinth of Chennai with its latest one way routes and finally arrived at Shri Mithai at around 9.40, only to be unceremoniously ushered outside by the watchman saying its closed. Punct’ was on the verge of getting a punch  from us.  Little did he know it was the power of my T-shirt. We finally settled on having dinner at a place called ‘2 Squared’ , opposite Loyola College. Thankfully it was open and we managed to have some grub before leaving for the night.

 

I know the advisable thing would be to avoid wearing a t-shirt to a reception again but Im going to sure as hell wear it another to time to see what the hell happens. As long as I dont get hit by a car, I think Im willing to take the risk. My friends and I also learnt its about time we start telling punct’ the timing of the event to be 2 hrs earlier than what it actually is. Hopefully everyone takes this route of action for all the punct’ friends in their groups as well.

 

An eventful Saturday and Sunday awaits me. Im looking forward to the painting event we have planned today at the NGO, Deepam, I help at. Hopefully I experience enough drama, chaos, confusion and joy to share it here.