New Manager

Are we ready to say, ‘Thank god it’s Thursday!’ yet?

Chetna Mehra | Updated on December 02, 2014 Published on December 02, 2014

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As flexi-timings and work-from-home options gain acceptance among Indian start-ups, are they ready for a four-day work-week?



The Indian work culture has undergone a shift and start-ups played an important role in that. Working shifts, hours and rules were relaxed, perquisites were offered and employee benefits were revived, repackaged and re-offered by start-ups.

All this to attract the best of new-gen talent, and keep them hooked. But as even these benefits become the usual deal, new firms look for newer ways to differentiate themselves from the rest.

Start-ups are looking for options: would one of them be a four-day work-week, where employees work just four days rather than the customary five? Perhaps not!

The concept is unhealthy for a start-up business, according to Sameer Parwani, CEO & Founder, CouponDunia. “In a start-up, it’s extremely essential to be working round-the-clock to increase productivity and maximise profits,” says Parwani. “A four-day work week will just obstruct a start-up’s growth curve.”

Shirish Deodhar, CEO & Co-founder of a tech-start-up, Sapience Analytics, says, “Working only for four days is a luxury we clearly can’t afford. The concept of defined work hours hardly applies to us, we believe in giving people an integrated work-life.”

"As a start-up we encourage policies like flexi hours, individual laptops for employees so that they can work from home during emergencies etc,” adds Deodhar.

Losing the edge?

Implementing a four-day work week may also cost India its competitiveness against other emerging markets like Brazil and China, according to Madhur Ramani, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Stratum Consulting – an HR consulting firm.

“India is known for its inexpensive talent and higher productivity as compared to other countries, and international corporations have opened development centres and manufacturing plants in India for that reason primarily,” Ramani says. “If India were to implement the 4-day work-week (before the developed world does), it would significantly erode the cost competitiveness that India currently offers.”

Green pastures

For instance, in sectors such as manufacturing, outsourcing and e-commerce, lost capacity cannot be recovered. “Companies would have to hire more people to maintain the same capacity, thereby increasing wage bills by minimum 20 per cent,” Ramani adds. Despite getting a thumbs-down from most emerging businesses, a four-day work-week has its own benefits and can be implemented in specific sectors and verticals.

“Research or product development could be one of the verticals where the model can be implemented, according to Parwani of Coupon Dunia. “Research takes time and effort and there is no particular timeline or limit to research work; there may be several trial and error methods that may work or not work,” he says.

Also, it is easier to implement the model in the internet technology space where quality of software coding matters more than the quantity of coding. Touchtalent.com, a platform where individuals can share and sell their art, is one of the few start-ups to adopt a four-day work-week model.

“We don't have fixed working days. We assign responsibilities to team members and make them accountable for them,” says Mohammed Wassem, Managing Director of Touchtalent. “They are free to take the call of where, when and how much they want to work on any day.”

Wassem believes this model can be comfortably applied in all product and project-based companies. An employee or a team may choose to extend their working hours for four days so that they can have 3 days off.  “In all such cases, there are no daily deliverables, so the team can plan their work accordingly,” he says.

A four-day-work-week can empower employees to work at their own pace and leisure, giving higher productivity, which is in the interest of the organisation in the longer term, Wassem shares. “In a knowledge-based economy, it is important that employees work, when they are most productive.”

Published on December 02, 2014
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