“Welcome aboard !!” I’ve heard these words many more times than the word ‘Mom’ in the last one month. “I feel very much welcome. Now, please start treating me like the working class”, I screamed silently, every time I heard those words.
CompanyX is one of the most successful companies in India. Well, to be precise, it belonged to the IT industry that gained most from the globalization in the 80s. I was thrilled to be placed in such a dignified and respectable organization. I belonged to the non-IT (everything other than software-related work) field. I was glad that I was going to be part of the “brand”.
Being part of the “brand” means getting a free ticket of approval in the south Indian community. When someone asks me what I do for a living, all I have to say is “I work in CompanyX”. Trust me! No one would ask me to elaborate on what I do for a living. It was considered indecent (Like hell! No one wants to reveal that they have no clue about the IT industry. The elderly south Indian is a know-it-all when it comes to IT and not knowing anything…. ANYTHING AT ALL… is considered dumb.) Before I got a job in CompanyX, some more questions will follow “Where do you work?”, like “as what?” and “Oh! What do you do?” They are apparently fine being ignorant of all the other “non-IT” things, and are in a state to enlighten themselves about the non-IT industry. But not with IT. When it comes to IT, they know everything (So they claim).
My recent conversation with a distant uncle went like this:
I saw you when you were thissss small!! How big you have become!”
I had a baby! Now this is cruel, I thought.
“Where are you nowadays? You never call!”
what’s your name again?
“So, are you working?”
“yes uncle!” I replied
“Oh! Good, good! Very good!”
Glad to have made you proud, I thought.
“Ok then! See you later! Keep in touch! Bye!” he said and left.
Seriously!!! “CompanyX” the word is enough???? I thought.
He does not even care what my designation at work is. I guess, even an office boy, a gardener, or gate security can proudly say “I work in CompanyX !” and people would go “Oooooooooohhhh! Good, good! Very good!!”
So, I am inside CompanyX. I come by CompanyX bus, I carry an CompanyX ID card, I swipe CompanyX swipy things. I guess I officially work here. Well! Not in the inherent meaning of the word work. I come and sit on the chair/desk that is allocated to me and log in to the computer that again is allocated to me.
I am not working. No kidding! I am really not working. Don’t get me wrong. I still get paid, but I am not working. In IT industry, this status is called “bench”. This is in the literal meaning of the word “benched”. You wait your turn, you rest your bottom on the bench till you wait. So if anyone asks you “What project are you in?” (a very typical question among ITers, I have come to know). You say “I am on bench”. Hey nothing to be ashamed of here. The company hired you and they do not give you work. Now is that your fault? Of course not.
You might think. ‘how nice! I can be happily not-working. How wonderful!’
Well imagine this! I come to office. I have my breakfast. I log in. I check mails. I browse. Feel bored. Browse more. Go have tea. Browse. Have lunch. Browse (by browse, I mean browsing the internet!! I am clear right? Fine! God! Sorry for interrupting your read). Feel bored. Get headache because of feeling bored. Get inside bus. Go home. And do the same thing all over again the next day. Jolly good day. Isn’t it?
Before entering the golden IT industry, I never understood the bench concept. That was until I myself was exposed to the slow-killing “bench”. And I do not understand the easy-going attitude of people who are benched. Poor chaps. Routine leads to habit and habit leads to forgetting things that are not habitual.
You might wonder what the hell I am talking about! Bench seems like a great time to improve yourself, create the next version of you. Right? Wrong…. Here’s why! The result of my pondering during my freeee time. Right now I have no clue as to how to use the time I have at hand. I feel like going home and doing some chores cause there I HAVE work. How long do you think I can hold on to this sphere of uncertainty. Soon enough my head will think of a way to get me out of this sphere.
I would begin to create weird routines to fulfill my workly yearnings. And this Indeed will lead to some amount of “work” satisfaction. Well! What else will my head do? Uncertainty is definitely not something it wants to deal with.
Ok! Now the routine is formed. And my head is happily getting accustomed to it (project version 2 is on people!!!!). Unlearning the “organized work” and learning to deal with the new-found freedom. Now when suddenly, from “out of nowhere” I get work. Damn! Now what would I do? I had already done the needful and forgotten how to work, so that I can sit without losing my mind on my “bench”. Tricky question right?
Many from the working class (people who have never been benched or benched only for like a month) would disagree. “they were without work no? until now! Why can’t they work now! These people are useless! Wasting away office money” they’d complain.
Now no one thinks about the transition that is expected from them. You see! Shifting from one type of a work to another is not a very hard one, whereas shifting from non-work to work is not that easy.
Now the poor was-a-bencher will have to gear up and adapt to the new routine. Not all people will fare well in this transition. Some would just bail out owing to fear.
And this fear or taking time to adjust is considered “bad” by the working class (people who have ton of work and have forgotten their bench period).
A very unhealthy situation! Don’t you think? Now should we treat the was-a-benchers with special attention and give them time and space to accustom to the new-found work? Or should we consider the working class’s point of view? (let’s face it, they are the revenue generators; well literally) and drop the was-a-benchers from mountain high, hoping they will learn to fly before hitting the ground?
Harsh decision for a decision maker. Isn’t it?
It’s a good thought to ponder. I am in no position to explore or research this topic.
It’s time the big heads put their heads together and think of a solution to this matter. After all “idle minds are devil’s workshop”.
And People wonder why people in IT industry are stressed! Stress is our middle name people! Stress is our middle name!!!