Is Efficiency directly proportional to the hours put into work per week?

Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy has emphasized the necessity for a shift in India’s work culture, suggesting that the younger generation should be ready to commit to 70 hours of work per week for the country to remain competitive globally. In a conversation with former Infosys CEO Mohandas Pai on the inaugural episode of 3one4 Capital’s podcast ‘The Record,’ the 77-year-old entrepreneur drew comparisons to countries like Japan and Germany, emphasizing the effectiveness of extended working hours. Additionally, he delved into various topics such as nation-building, technology, and issues facing his company Infosys. When discussing his vision for the next 10 to 15 years, Narayana Murthy underscored the importance of enhancing productivity in India and addressing government delays.

Mr. Narayana Murthy proceeded to illustrate the significance of discipline and increased productivity by citing historical examples from post-World War II Germany and Japan. In the aftermath of the war, both nations underwent transformative periods where discipline and heightened productivity played pivotal roles in their recovery and subsequent economic success. The lessons drawn from these historical instances emphasize the positive impact that a strong work ethic and productivity enhancements can have on a nation’s development and global competitiveness.

AND THIS CREATED A FIRE ON THE INTERNET!

On the surface, this discussion resembles a typical high school debate, where arguments can be readily crafted for and against the proposition, contingent upon the perspective one chooses to advocate. Opponents of the motion have emphasized the importance of preserving a healthy work-life balance, while proponents have asserted that India requires a more productive workforce to attain the standards of developed nations. As Bhavish Agrawal, the Co-founder of Ola, aptly puts it: “It’s our moment to go all in and build in one generation what other countries have built over many generations!”

In response to this debate, Radhika Gupta, CEO and Managing Director of Edelweiss Mutual Fund, highlighted that Indian women have been consistently working beyond the threshold of 70 hours per week for years. Balancing professional commitments with household responsibilities and parenting, these women have made significant contributions that often go unnoticed and unaddressed.

Expressing her perspective on the matter, Gupta took to the social media platform X to share her views. “Between offices and homes, many Indian women have been working many more than seventy-hour weeks to build India (through our work) and the next generation of Indians (our children). For years and decades. With a smile, and without a demand for overtime. Funnily, no one has debated about us on Twitter,” she articulated.

Offering a differing perspective, Ronnie Screwvala, co-founder and chairman of the edtech platform upGrad, emphasized that the quality of work holds greater significance than longer working hours. In a post on X, he mentioned, “Boosting productivity isn’t just about working longer hours. It’s about getting better at what you do – upskilling, having a positive work environment, and fair pay for the work done. Quality of work done > clocking in more hours.”

So what do we have to think about this concept of 70 working hours per week?

Though the core of this suggestion emphasizes 70 working hours for a sector of the population in India, the main essence is more about raising the level of determination higher to drive the country’s competitive edge. It’s time to push ourselves as individuals , as team leaders and further on a macro level as a company to accelerate qualitative movement. It’s time to tap into and bring to the table the true capabilities we have.

Drawing comparisons with Japan and Germany, the perspective we take from this is to put forward collective determination and output that transforms the overall work culture and has its impact on the economy of the country on a macro level.

In India, for cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, traveling to work consumes a significant amount of time and effort. If you have to spend 4 hours on work related travel daily, you spend 25% of your active hours just to make the remaining 75% of it make sense. And Work From Home is not a solution that guarantees the kind of productivity we individually are looking forward to enhancing.

Having said that, it is VERY important and crucial to incorporate wellness in every form at work. When it comes to bringing quality in your performance, physical, mental and emotional fitness plays a huge role. Having a healthy mind and sound well-being can transform 70 hours of work into what feels like just 50 hours.

And it is not only the work of an employee on an individual and micro level but also the responsibility of the company as a whole. Encouraging employee wellness programs which includes meditation, emotional support and certain kinds of physical therapy does make an impact on their performance.

It becomes the responsibility of the team leaders to understand what drives the efficiency of their team in a way that there is a different enzyme of every employee to enhance their productivity. For some, it would be their individual wellness and for some, it would be their family time.

It is the efficiency derived through qualitative productivity that needs to be put forward and this is not just the responsibility of the individual employee but also their direct managers and boss/es. Through training, skill development programs and by enhancing the wellness culture at work which uplifts the motivation levels of the workforce, we can create a difference.

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