Hard(ly) working!

Recently I had a very interesting and rather amusing encounter that was so moving that I just had to write about it!

Like normal people I tend to enjoy my Sundays and guard them rather zealously against invasion by the ‘weekend warriors’. Recently I was approached by a couple of HR professionals who wanted some very simple info from me regarding the business unit I work with. The info required was as simple as simple gets – no of people in the organization, some policies etc. – basic stuff you know… This info was required for a proposal they were working on for a client. So they call me on a Sunday when I am at dinner with some guests in the midst of an interesting conversation… no apologies for the disturbance or anything, they launch into a detailed account of what they need despite my feeble attempts at requesting a discussion later in the night… but of course… I want to be helpful since it is an ‘emergency’. Well… as I later found out they had not gone through the info even 2 days later! Yes, I can see a few of you nodding in empathy already! Anyway, I am more amused than annoyed at this point because I am impressed at the sheer enthusiasm and commitment and hardwork of these kids… till of course they call me again the next Sunday – this time when in my feverish condition, I am about to steal a few moments of afternoon siesta. So, ok, by now, I am very curious as to what mechanism they use that generates the need for info only on Sundays, but am polite… to a fault… so I respond and believe that I have given all the info ever required. In the meantime of course several others have called me at various hours during the week to ask for exactly the same info… because it just doesn’t make sense to get through a task without duplication of effort, does it? How on earth would you ever create the feeling of bonhomie and rivalry, co-operation and competition if you did not encourage duplication of effort in your team?!! So, by now, my amusement is giving way a little…. But I still admire the tenacity of these professionals to chase the info required, come what may, and not giving in to emotions like empathy for the ailing in their single-minded quest. As you have probably guessed already, they call me again the next Sunday (that’s 3 Sundays in a row for those of you keeping count!) and they want exactly the same info…maybe the proverbial cat ate their homework! So, by now, am really amused because I am wondering if they are on a work schedule different from mine… do they work weekends and have weekdays off? If they call this weekend… we will know for sure 😉

All of us have some point or other faced the wrath of the ‘weekend warriors’. ‘Weekend warriors’ are those who go boldly where no polite human has gone before and they capture new frontiers unknown to the lesser mortals constrained in their weekday mindsets!

I thought long and hard about it, more in amusement than in annoyance… and I realize that they aren’t to blame really. They are products of a system that preaches that your personal time is the property of the company – whether it is staying late in office , working on weekends, or travelling in your personal time – late nights and early mornings and weekends. It is a disease, more rampant than bird – flu or SARS… but with devastating effects as well.

What impresses me most about the weekend warriors is the sheer audacity with which they impinge on your time, counting on the politeness of the rest of the world, in not pointing out that the help they seek from you in an emergency on a Sunday, could well have been sought on any other day of the week.

To all those of you out there nodding in dismay at this attempted corporate suicide of mine – going against the ‘hard(ly) working’ ‘powers that be’… c’mon… I do understand the concept of an emergency… I really do!

1. The very demanding and somewhat sadistic client in the hope of seeing some ‘hard work’ purposely mails requirements only on Saturday nights and wants responses by Monday morning. That’s an emergency for sure!

2. You get hit by a bus, have amnesia and regain your memory only on Sunday morning and realize that you need to do something by the following Monday and you need help… yes, that’s an emergency!

3. Your pet cat eats your laptop on Sunday evening and you have an important presentation to make on Monday and you have to reach out and grab at straws… sure… that’s an emergency!

4. You are supremely superstitious and believe that you should seek information only on a Sunday and that will make your mission successful… sure, I can empathise with that… so, ok we can qualify that as an emergency as well!

But then realization dawns on me… the definition of emergency could really vary across people. For some people emergency simply means that it is an emergency for them. While all factors contributing to the emergency such as pre-planning etc which were under their control have not been managed and hence gotten out of control and hence it is an emergency!

But, if we have to be true to ourselves, we have to admit that in our busy world, most things go unnoticed since we are gliding not very gracefully from one emergency to another. No one questions anymore as to why there was an emergency (and this is great because most of the time its your fault!), but are just conscious of getting through the emergency unscathed. Thus, the whole focus on emergencies has led to an emergency – boom. You want an emergency… sure … how many do you need?

Of course, taking a leaf out of the ‘weekend warriors’ guidebook, I realized that there are quite a few ‘cool’ ways to impress the hell out of your boss and prove to everyone how ‘hard(ly) working’ you are.

Here are some of them to help you get that attention you so definitely deserve!

1. Technology is really a great enabler. If you have company chat on your laptop, just leave it perpetually logged on – that way just in case your boss is a nocturnal animal and snoops around the denizens of the net at night, he will see that you are logged in and proportionately disburse brownie points to you. A hope and a prayer is all you need so that he doesn’t actually message you at midnight and suddenly realize that its only your net avtar that is on, while you are snoring sweetly in another room!

2. Send mails at all odd hours of the night – This one’s a sure winner. I see mails from some colleagues (discounting for the time zone impact) sent at midnight or 2 am and I wonder… do they set an alarm, wake up in the middle of the night and send mails? Or maybe they are more intelligent than me, and just set the timer for mails to be sent …say 7 hours after office? In fact for a long time now, ever since I have realized that late night mails are the way to a ‘hard-working’ bosses’ heart, I’ve been trying to get hold of some IT chap who can weave his magic wand and make all my mails appear as though they were sent post midnight only!!! Am still looking ….

3. Call people only at the most inopportune of times. For e.g. if you are calling people on a weekend, you must call between 1pm and 4pm or post 9pm so that you cause maximum disruption of their schedule and they are able to appreciate your emergency much more!

This article is dedicated to the 3 extremely talented, intelligent and hard working HR professionals who inspired and fuelled the material for this article and surely taught me a lesson or two about projecting a ‘hard working’ image. Honestly, I must admit that I do end up working on the weekends sometimes, but it hasn’t occurred to me yet to be calling people or sending mails. No wonder right!

I have thought and thought about this phenomenon… and still don’t have a clue why and how it works. My final conclusion after really researching and trying to understand this phenomenon is that the ‘weekend warriors’ really like Sundays. Just like normal people have bio-rythmic cycles that makes some people prefer to work in the mornings while some prefer putting in late nights… there are those of us who work during weekdays and then there are the ‘weekend warriors’… who just really really like Sundays! 😉

Penning this article and still worrying about corporate suicide … am hoping that this will bring a couple of smiles to all those ‘in’ on this greatest inside joke… and for those who found nothing to smile about… you’re taking yourself too seriously… GET A LIFE!

Footnote: My apologies if I have hurt anyone’s sentiments in writing this article. I wrote it just as an observation on the kind of lives we all lead today – more in amusement than in annoyance… 🙂

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


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