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8/25/2006 7:52:49 PM

Mr. Narayana Murthy is undoubtedly one of the most famous persons from
Karnataka. He is known not just for building the biggest IT Empire in India
but also for his simplicity. Almost every important dignitary visits
InfoSys campus. He delivered an interesting speech during an employee
session with another IT company in India. He is incidentally, one of the
top 50 influential people of Asia according to an Asiaweek publication and
also the new IT Advisor to the Thailand Prime Minister.

Extract of Mr. Narayana Murthy's Speech during Mentor Session:

I know people who work 12 hours a day, six days a week, or more. Some
people do so because of a work emergency where the long hours are only
temporary. Other people I know have put in these hours for years. I do not
know if they are working all these hours, but I do know they are in the
office this long. Others put in long office hours because they are addicted
to the workplace.

Whatever the reason for putting in overtime, working long hours over the
long term is harmful to the person and to the organization. There are
things managers can do to change this for everyone's benefit. Being in the
office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential

My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes
caused by fatigue. Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as
the time and energy of others. I have seen people work Tuesday through
Friday to correct mistakes made after 5 PM on Monday.

Another problem is that people who are in the office long hours are not
pleasant company. They often complain about other people (who are not
working as hard); they are irritable, or cranky, or even angry. Other
people avoid them. Such behaviour poses problems, where work goes much
better when people work together instead of avoiding one another.

As Managers, there are things we can do to help people leave the office.
First and foremost is to set the example and go home ourselves. I work with
a manager who chides people for working long hours. His words quickly lose
their meaning when he sends these chiding group e-mails with a time-stamp
of 2 AM, Sunday.

Second is to encourage people to put some balance in their lives. For
instance, here is a guideline I find helpful:

1) Wake up, eat a good breakfast, and go to work.
2) Work hard and smart for eight or nine hours.
3) Go home.
4) Read the books/comics, watch a funny movie, dig in the dirt, play with
your kids, etc.
5) Eat well and sleep well.

This is called recreating. Doing steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 enable step 2.
Working regular hours and recreating daily are simple concepts. They are
hard for some of us because that requires 'personal change'. They are
possible since we all have the power to choose to do them.

In considering the issue of overtime, I am reminded of my oldest son. When
he was a toddler, if people were visiting the apartment, he would not fall
asleep no matter how long the visit was, and no matter what time of day it
was. He would fight off sleep until the visitors left. It was as if he was
afraid that he would miss some thing. Once our visitors' left, he would go
to sleep. By this time, however, he was over tired and would scream through
half the night with nightmares. He, my wife, and I, all paid the price for
his fear of missing out.

Perhaps some people put in such long hours because they do not want to miss
anything when they leave the office. The trouble with this is that events
will never stop happening. That is life! Things happen 24 hours a day.
Allowing for little rest is not ultimately practical. So, take a nap.
Things will happen while you are asleep, but you will have the energy to
catch up when you wake. Hence,


- Narayana Murthy -



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