Too much of anything is the beginning of a mess, said Dorothy Draper, a famous interior designer who pioneered many new practices for the industry.
COVID-19 has taught all of us new ways of living our lives. We work remotely, meet people on virtual platforms, buy products from online markets, entertain ourselves by playing e-sports, consult with our doctors using online platforms, study and learn online, carry out online banking and many such practices as a departure from what we used to do earlier. Work-related tasks and our day-to-day life tasks are now very intricately integrated. We do not have boundaries between the tasks that give us our livelihood and the other tasks for our living. Given this backdrop, what happens to productivity?
When the pandemic hit us, we had many lockdowns and as a result, we were confined to our homes. The industry sectors like IT, outsourcing, consulting, financial services and such could move work to the homes of their employees easily. Employees had nothing to do other than work on their laptops, tablets and smartphones. They were happy to stay immersed in work and at the same time, felt proud of solving the unprecedented situations coming up at work due to the pandemic. Senior leaders in organisations discovered avenues of generating enhanced results with the same resources.
Work hours have got extended. People are not travelling to work and hence, the start time of working hours has got advanced. The spirit of doing a bit more has become the new norm for the managers to drive in their teams. Timelines to complete tasks are getting crunched in the name of smart work and stretch. Competition has been unrelenting and as a result, customers have become more demanding than ever before. They are looking for greater value at reduced prices from their suppliers. Burnout is seen everywhere!
Do we need work hours to be bounded?
We see a gradual shift in the attitude of managers toward their team members who want off-work hours every day to pursue their hobbies and passion. Increasingly, the commitment of organisations to let their employees pursue their interests and hobbies is dwindling. In practice, employees see their colleagues, customers, managers and suppliers reach out to them at all hours of the day and their managers expect quick responses. In the name of agility, employees are being motivated toward the culture of hustle.
It is time for the senior leaders to recognise the burnout and the toxicity in the work culture they are setting up in their organisations. Research has shown that productivity does not necessarily increase by extended hours of work. So, they need to learn from these insights and apply them in their workplace. The simplest idea is to reiterate the working hours and create greater awareness in the organisation about the need of working effectively.
Need discipline from employees
As far as we can see now, the world of work is now much more fast-paced and result-oriented than ever before. Employees have to work in this world and at the same time, live their life with as much happiness and joy as possible. They will always look for an organisation that promises orderliness and a strong future apart from everything else such as attractive rewards and benefits, a dignified work environment, freedom, development opportunities and recognition of merit. This is a challenge that the leaders have to recognise, and accordingly, build the organisation’s culture and infrastructure.
Employees have to learn to deal with their life which is a mixture of priorities related to work, their habits, passion, interest, hobbies, family and friends. This is a challenge that all of us are facing for the first time in the world. Employees have to learn to prioritise their tasks in terms of their criticality and urgency. They have to learn when and how much to communicate, optimise the time they spend in communication, collaborate well to create the maximum impact and be on the path of continuous improvement. This is the path of discipline and journey towards excellence.