Darshan Damodran, a software engineer, is most troubled by Narayan Murthy’s 70 hour work week proposal. Find out why.

Darshan Damodran always aspired to become a software engineer. And guess who inspired him the most? None other than Mr. Narayan Murthy, the face of the giant IT company Infosys. He has seen all the interviews of the man on YouTube. What’s more, he desires to become as successful as him. Or at the least, become an in-law of a President of a certain country (why not if the opportunity knocks), afterall, Darshan just married last month. 

All was good until Mr. Murthy dropped a bombshell. By now, you know it well, yes, the whole hullaballoo around 70 hour work week statement, which has polarized the whole business world. What’s more painful, it has broken Darshan’s heart to smithereens.

On one side, his heart beats for the nation, and he is determined to give not 70 but 168 hours (24x7 equals 168 hours) in a week. On the other side, he is on the rope because he has dreamt of spending quality time with his newly wedded wife some place far away. 

Darshan is an emotional but logical man. And therefore, he decided to turn to his bachelor friend working in a staffing agency in Mumbai. Here’s what they discussed.

70 Hour Work Week Debate Explained

What exactly did Mr. Murthy say that raised a furore? 

He said: “Therefore, my request is that our youngsters must say, 'this is my country; I'd like to work 70 hours a week.” Interestingly, he remarked this on a podcast hosted by Mohandas Pai, a former board member at Infosys. “The man was just chilling with his old colleague and made a candid remark,” quipped Darshan’s friend.

However, the proposal has polarized the business world. One who supports the idea believes that Mr. Murthy intended to motivate the young workforce of India to go above and beyond in the interest of the country. And the suggestion of 70 hour work week shouldn’t be taken literally.

Many business leaders and celebrities have opined that people in their formative years can gain a lot by spending more time at work. Hard work is the foundation on which great leaders have accomplished great success.

Others think working beyond 9 hours just for the sake of it is unnecessary and leads to physical stress and mental burnout. Many of those in the IT sector and other industries already go beyond 9 hours to finish projects within the deadline. More work does not mean productive work always. 

But is clocking in more hours legal? 

Experts in the legal field say that 70 hour week is against the law which states that employees should not be forced to work more than 48 hours, i.e., 8 hours daily in a 6-day work week. Plus, it completely threatens to upend the work-life balance which employees are craving for post-pandemic.

Moreover, experienced staffing companies believe that the workforce today have different demands. Work flexibility, physical and mental health and a supportive environment are top priorities. They aspire to achieve a standard of living similar to how it is common in developed economies.

What else was controversial?

This time Darshan’s friend thundered: If you listen to the complete podcast, Mr. Murthy has implied that the Indian youth collectively are un-productive. He needn’t have compared India’s youth to global peers. So many youngsters are forced to work more than 70 hours of work and are underpaid. This became a point of controversy, with many on social media platforms condemning the statement. 

It was too much to bear for Darshan. Another of his friend married just before the pandemic and enjoyed an extended honeymoon and Darshan dreamt of something similar. He was blown away by the growing idea of a four-day workweek. “What an idea” he had exclaimed. He wondered if someone could tell Mr. Murthy about this new concept and went on to explain it to his friend.

The Four-Day Work Week Explained

What is a four-day workweek?

A four-day work week means a reduction in working hours but maintaining the pay. This can be achieved by asking employees to come for four days of work and giving three days off. 

How did the four-day week movement start?

Five years ago, a four-day workweek was a pipedream. Nobody thought it was possible or required. The pandemic was the catalyst which encouraged this new concept, perhaps one of the only few positive things that came out of the tumultuous period. 

There’s a nonprofit by the name 4 Day Week Global which is spreading the word about this new work concept worldwide. There are sites like 4dayweek.io, which Darshan has already subscribed to show his support. 

How does it help?

As the workforce trends change, the four-day week concept can be a game-changer for companies looking to attract, and retain talent. Plus, better work-life balance, employee satisfaction and overall increase in happiness quotient will boost productivity, helping businesses grow.

Many countries are experimenting with the concept, and overall results have been positive. 

In 2022, Belgium allowed workers to follow a four-day workweek without reducing their salary. The country's prime minister stated that the intention is to "create a more dynamic and productive economy".

Last year, several companies in the UK participated in a six-month trial scheme, organised by

4 Day Week Global. 56 of the 61 companies that participated said they would continue with a four-day week, at least for now, and the other 18 companies made it a permanent change. 

Will the debate over different work week concepts rage on? What does the future holds? Only time will tell. The conversations with his friend and different points of view shared have given Darshan a new perspective. For the time being, Darshan is only looking forward to finishing his work and spending quality time with his wife at the weekend.

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