Mark Needham

Thoughts on Software Development

India Cultural Differences: Stretched work day

with 5 comments

A couple of months ago I briefly touched on the very stretched days I’ve experienced while working in India.

This is in contrast to what I’ve experienced in the UK and Australia where the day was much more time boxed and tended to go from 9am to 6pm.

At the moment we also have a call with colleagues in Chicago at 9pm for about 30-45 minutes so the day has now stretched out until nearly 10pm. We start with our standup at 10am.

We’re certainly not working all of that time but you’re never really done for the day until the call has finished.

With or without the call I’ve found it a much more difficult environment to work in than anything I’ve experienced before.

I frequently get to the end of the day and can’t really determine whether I’ve actually achieved anything because I’ve started and stopping working so many times.

I find I get distracted really easily working in our Pune office so I need my pair to be quite vocal about keeping focus!

One disadvantage of the stretched work day which I’ve only noticed recently is that you can become less reflective about the code because you don’t get as much time where you’re awake but not directly working with the code.

I frequently came up with possible ways to improve code bases on previous projects while playing around with something else or watching a presentation or similar.

I find that I play around with stuff outside the project less than I have previously partly because I’ve lost the 4 to 5 hour stretch that I used to have each evening.

On the positive side you get to know the people you’re working with pretty well because you’re with them for a lot more hours per day.

Not every project in the office has hours as stretched as mine but it certainly seems to be more common in India than elsewhere.

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Written by Mark Needham

December 20th, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Distributed Agile

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  • “At the moment we also have a call with colleagues in Chicago at 9pm for about 30-45 minutes so the day has now stretched out until nearly 10pm. We start with our standup at 10am.”

    And there is your problem cight there. If your work day ends at 10 pm it should start at 1 pm (10 – 9). It would also help if the American team stayed up late on alternate weeks.

    To start with,fire the idiot managing your project on the Indian side and bring in someone more sensible who won’t subject his team to these ridiculous conditions.Anyone heard of “Sustainable Pace” over there? And I thought TW was an “agile” vendor. Or is it “lean kanban” these days?

  • We did originally have that call at 4.45pm Indian time for 5 months so we changed it so the American guys didn’t have to get up at 6am all the time.

    The whole team doesn’t have to go to the 10pm call – in reality most people finish at 7pm so it’s not that the pace is unsustainable.

  • Kalpesh

    The indian side of management finds it easy to ask people to put in extra hours, which I find surprising that nobody shouts back with a NO.

    I guess it comes from the idea that
    – because I have work/have worked so many hours, why shouldn’t you?

    – If you are a bachelor or person from other city/state, the line is “what do you have to do at home?

    – I know I have screwed up. Lets make sure that we deliver the project on time by asking people to work extra & I won’t have to apologize for the screw up.

    I “pray” for sanity to managers, who adopt any of this brilliant ideas 😐

  • Kalpesh

    To add further,

    Its the Indian side that will adjust for the call time & not the other side.

    Weird it is & true as well.