Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

‘I have to jump to another call.’ Does it sound empowering?


Not so long back, it was fashionable to carry a Diner’s Club card and flash it at every given opportunity.  It was very long ago – there’s no denying that.

Times changed, as did the toys. For a limited period, Blackberry too had an elite corporate appeal and made its presence felt. Essentially, these were objects of desire from which humans derived a sense of power. The ability to display was a testimony (of sorts) that one had “arrived” in life.

Then covid reformatted our existence without preamble. Casually thrown statements such as “I am on a call” or “I have to jump into another call” became the sine qua non of power in the digital world. It was a fragile existence otherwise.

Repeatedly and with chilling regularity, untimely deaths (in our circles too) cemented the bare-metal fact – fragility and uncertainty. We found succour in having a series of “back-to-back” calls with an added incentive of exercising the option of jumping out abruptly from an ongoing call only to forge an alliance with another.

Who is responsible?

Flunkeys were bereft of such options and they had an onerous task. Time, particularly that of leaders, was more precious than radium and a stretch was considered a sacrilege. In parallel, we had another freewheeling narrative – sustaining mental health and the HR departments making a song-and-dance about it – literally. Once more, the duality of human existence was in full display. Snubbing people owing to “a lack of time” or its jargonized assertion – “in the interest of time” is par for the course because there’s an elaborate “let’s make up” rigmarole afterwards. Mission Statements curried favour: We bring our best selves to work. Seriously?

Time is precious of course, and that is there. But do we function with clockwork precision all the time? If it were so then how do we account for the billions of man-hours clocked every day on social media and even during work hours?

What’s the productivity ratio?

Moreover, where do these calls lead? Is there a way of mapping the enormous amount of time spent on calls vis-à-vis the measured outcome? I reckon there isn’t, and historical comparison of performance (over the previous quarter for instance) is our best bet. There isn’t an accurate way of knowing that such long hours on calls yielded optimum results.

When we speak of human-centricity in all aspects we should also be prepared to make leeway for human imperfection. Perhaps, leaders can display more patience and longer attention spans. Preparation takes time but curt behaviour saps morale, especially when it comes from the top.

To reiterate, time is most critical and should not be taken lightly or be allowed to stretch endlessly. The appeal is to seek the middle path – assuming it exists.  People want to be heard and often they put in much effort. Admittedly, these efforts are riddled with imperfections, and then again that’s what humans are also about.

There can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to this but perhaps we can make an effort by not jumping into another call, and let us say four out of ten times.

A genuine need for rationing the hours is an admirable human quality and there can be no debate on that. What I ask for is curbing the seemingly insatiable need to use it as a symbol of power. And that is why I have suggested 40 per cent. It still leaves adequate room for genuine cases.

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