Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Get A Life!

I ran across an interesting article on Fortune calledGet A Life!. It is an interesting and provocative article which sheds some light on how a few selected companies are trying to strike a balance between their top employees work and their personal lives.

It is interesting because the current norm in thinking is that you have to work 10-15 hours a day in order to prove that you are a top producer in your company. This norm is a proponent of working hard over working smart. Even if you work smart and manage to finish your tasks you will find more work on you table the next day. This in turn turns people away from working smart.

For a while I have been trying a strike a balance between my personal life and my professional life. I value my personal time as much as I value my professional time. One of the main reasons that I work is to support a quality personal time with my loved ones. Though I have achieved that target, I often it is at the expense of my professional life, because I choose to let go of some star assignments because it will cost me my personal life.

But the article speaks about a few examples where a few companies have re-designed some jobs in order to allow the employees to have a better work-life balance. I liked one quote in the article which read "Companies need to be 24/7, not the employees."

And another fact we face in Sri Lanka is the emerging super economies of the region, India and China have a work ethic of 18 hour days. And us being the tiny neighbor, we are trying to compete by overdoing them. And laments comparing our hours with that of theirs are very common. Is our approach correct? One good example is in this article itself, where it compares the work ethics of three teams in India, China and Hungary. And it boils down to the approach that each team had taken towards the work.

So the question still remains. Are we willing to do whatever it takes reach the top? What is the price that we are willing to pay? I for one, don't want to be the next Bill Gates or Jack Welch. Instead of reaching the top and drawing a 7 figure salary and missing out on my kids growing up years or sharing my life with my wife, I would rather draw a salary that will sustain my family and share those moments. But that would mean that I may miss out on some opportunities out there. But if I let my life go by, there's way that I can pull it back. I do not want to wake up one day, all alone in a big house with a swimming pool. I'd rather wake up in a humble bed, with my wife next to me, to the shouting of my kids!

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