Why Indians Must Change Their Work Habits to Become World Class Professionals

Why Indian Professionals need to Change Their Work Habits

In recent years, there has been much talk about how India is emerging as a global powerhouse and an engine for economic growth on a global scale.

Indeed, with the liberalization of the Indian Economy in the 1990s and the subsequent waves of reform, there has been much anticipation of how the Caged Tiger is finally breaking free to reclaim its place in the comity of developed nations.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that Indian corporates followed the trend of globalizing themselves and their Human Resource functions instituted global best practices as far as the working conditions, the organizational policies, and the concomitant change in the way Indians work were concerned.

However, despite many strides made by Indian corporates in recent years as far as productivity gains and the attendant improvement in profitability were concerned, there still remain areas in which the Indian professionals lag behind their Global counterparts as far as work habits are concerned.

Indeed, with China stealing a march on India as far as economic growth is concerned, there are now influential sections of India Inc. such as the IT (Information Technology) icon and founder of Infosys, NR Narayana Murthy, who have called upon Indian professionals to emulate the work habits of their Western and Chinese counterparts so that Indian corporates become truly global and world class and emerge as world beaters.

Some Specific Work Habits That Can be Changed: the Early to Work Routine

There are many areas in which Indian professionals can enhance their productivity. For instance, it is a habit among Indians to work late into the night rather than coming to work early.

As management gurus such as Robin Sharma, the bestselling author who recently came out with a book that detailed how working in the early mornings can enhance productivity claim, the Indian corporates and the HR managers can do more to encourage Indian professionals to embrace this habit.

Indeed, in our experience in the corporate world, we have found only those Indians who worked in the West and returned to India who follow this routine.

Of course, many multinationals operating in India start early and hence, this is a global best practice that can be embraced by Indian corporates as well.

In addition, there are many Indian professionals who like to come early to avoid the long grind in Rush Hour Traffic and given the fact that valuable time and energy is lost in the daily commute on the notoriously choked Indian roads, it is better for Indians to start early and finish early so that they can beat the energy wastage and the time spent in navigating traffic.

Why Working from Home is a Viable Productivity Enhancer

In this context, it is also worth noting that many Indian corporates now allow work from home as a viable career option.

On the other hand, there are others who still resist this and hence, maybe, it is time for all firms to have some variations of this policy.

If you cannot allow work from home all the time, at least you can allow some employees to work from home all of the time, and all employees to work from home some of the time.

With advances in communications and the bandwidth, there is no need for employees to be present physically in the designated workplace and instead, video conferencing and other options can be explored for even meetings with superiors.

Having said that, this is not the only advantage of employees working from home and enhancing productivity.

With the recent acute water crisis in most Indian metros this summer, already employers are being forced to ask employees to work from home and perhaps, this is a good opportunity to institutionalize this policy.

How the Informal Sector Needs to Change as well

The point to be noted here is that research has shown the benefits of both options discussed above and hence, Indian corporates can become world class in this respect as well.

No discussion on work habits of Indians is complete without referring to the huge Informal Sector that exists in India.

Indeed, given the fact that Indian corporates employ a tiny percentage of the total workforce wherein the rest are employed in the informal sector, it is high time for the Indian government to put in place policies that can enhance the productivity of workers in the non corporate and the SME or the Small and Medium Sector.

To start with, there need to be fixed working hours for them in addition to providing them with paid leave and maternity and paternity benefits.

In this case, it must be mentioned that the Modi government has indeed taken steps to enhance the maternity leave and it must also force the employers to actualize a workplace that is productive and not energy sapping.

Jugaad and Global Practices can Coexist with Indianness

The key aspect here is that Indianness is not destroyed by embracing global best practices where there are clearly proven benefits and hence, culture must not be given as an excuse not to change.

Indeed, China is the best example here as they have embraced the Best that the West has and at the same time, managed to retain their cultural moorings.

As NRN pointed out, there is an urgent need to change our work habits and this includes changing the way we work as well.

Further, there is a need to professionalize our workplace culture and shed the anachronistic ways that are holding us back.

To conclude, while Jugaad is now gaining global prominence, there is nothing wrong in doing the reverse and inculcate Western and Chinese work habits to prosper.

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