In their inexorable quest to merge the corporate lifestyle and the modern employee together into one unified strand, companies have, in recent times, come up with the idea of flexible working hours. The idea of this corporate experiment is to figure out how much flex can your typical employee give before he breaks and goes off to join the Hare Rama Hare Krishna movement in India. The program, rolled out for the first time in the early 60s by German entrepreneur Wilhelm Haller, was a big success. In 1973, Hewlett Packard copied that model and molded it into the modern Flex @ Work methodology.
Note to those Indians who still work at Libraries and Govt. offices: Flex @ Work is nothing but what you have been traditionally doing at office between chai breaks, lunch breaks and social breaks anyway. So relax, and congratulations for staying ahead of the curve.
Now, one of the stated goals of this blog is to provide unsuspecting readers with useful information about the vagaries of professional existence – and how to deal with the aforesaid vagaries. Unfortunately, Indians who work at “corporate” jobs often mistake flex @ work to mean “Stay back at the office every day until the janitor starts cleaning under your chair while you are still sitting on it”. This philosophy flies in the face of “firangi” culture, which places unimaginable importance on minor things as work life balance, vacation, family and health.
Once I started thinking about the myriad ways in which flex @ work could be detrimental to the average employee’s life expectancy, I decided to come up with solutions to alleviate the pressure a bit. The following three Zen meditative techniques are guaranteed to provide some measure of relief.
The Nimble Fingers: Recently, I have been utilizing a lot of my flex @ work hours. For me, this means staying late at office often to finish some work that requires actual thinking. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely difficult to estimate the demand for black market office supplies when there are lots of co workers milling about the stationery room. One needs peace, quiet and stealth for that sort of work. You need to start small, often with pencils, and graduate to printers and small scanners through years of flexing. It is of course, easy to get intoxicated with the euphoria of such flex. This is how, during annual stock taking, the company massage chairs are often found in the living rooms of ex employees entirely by some mistake.
The Ambush Mailer: Some small measure of satisfaction can also be obtained from informing co workers about crises situations in their projects at night or over weekends. Send a mail with the cryptic subject line “Re project Titanic: Latest financials show project expense close to Greece GDP. General Manager asking questions. Take leave immediately” to your colleague and watch him go into cardiac arrest the next morning as he checks his emails.
The Conscientious Supplier: The next best thing to do is to mess with your office general supply providers. This tactic is especially useful if you have one of those 24 hour ‘guaranteed’ services as promised on the smiley face sticker stuck on the empty water container. Call them up tonight at 12 am and reorder the root beer on the 21st floor. Repeat with judicious mixture of soda and floors.
However, these techniques provide nothing but temporary monetary and mental relief. For the ultimate Zen mastery of flex@work, we must practice a higher order meditation – known as ‘Working from Home’. More about that in a later post. It’s Saturday afternoon, and I need to send some mails.