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70 hours a slave

Are we more obsessed with the number of hours spent at work than how they are being spent, wonders corporate comedian Vikram Poddar

Vikram Poddar | Published 02.11.23, 04:52 PM
Is Narayana Murthy just trolling Gen Z?

Is Narayana Murthy just trolling Gen Z?

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I first heard of Infosys towards the end of the ’90s, when my late father and I were heavily into the Y2K bug training boom in India. We met companies like TCS when they were still small operations in a south Bombay office. The Y2K bug was an important driver behind Indian IT going from body shopping arbitrage to swanky offices, world class facilities and employee engagement programs …for body shopping arbitrage at a higher price point. Narayana Murthy was also the subject of my class assignment in Jai Hind BMS, where my group spent most of its time practising getting his full name right with intonations. If you took me back to those times, I would happily spend 700 hours scouring the just-emerging Indian IT landscape. But you are not me, so you are suitably miffed at the absurd idea of being asked to work 70 hours a week which can be 10 hours a day including weekends. I am sharing this calculation to benefit the English graduates (Honours, of course).

Every body who is anybody and clearly has more than 70 hours of free time has written long proses about the evil expectation of the evil business owner from his noble, hard-working selfless employees who would never even think of stealing the post-its from a dead colleague’s desk. Many have spoken about work-life balance, when frankly the balance is that work allows you to get away from life so you can build a life to get away from work. Many women have spoken about how the workload is disproportionately on women who have to handle office and home because the men are obviously busy playing Counter-Strike all day (hit me up for a game guys. I am C4). These same women also have more than 70 hours of dancing Insta reels interspersed with advertisements for gambling Ponzi schemes. (This columnist spent more than 70 hours going through these reels to bring valuable investment lessons to his readers).


I think we are all too obsessed with the number of hours spent than how they are being spent. As an ex-management consultant, I had to fill up the timesheet every Friday to explain exactly how I had spent my required 10 hours a day with a half-an-hour break for lunch. I can understand Bengalis protesting that half an hour is how much time it takes for us to get ready for lunch. But I am always grateful for my time as a management consultant, because our hours billed to the client showed me that time is truly an illusion. How else could four management consultants have billed 170 hours a week to make a single PPT? Fun fact, I got laid off from this consulting firm in 2009 and then did a corporate comedy show for the same audience six years later. I got paid more for the 70-minute show than the 70 hours a week I would put in as an employee.

I think Narayana Murthy said it deliberately just to troll Gen Z. He knows they can get triggered even by a water pistol. Because it doesn’t matter how many hours of work anyone expects from you. What matters is what you expect from yourself with the time you’ve been given.

The author, Vikram Poddar, is a Marwari investment banker turned corporate comedian. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Last updated on 02.11.23, 05:33 PM

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