Time Zone Lag

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    According to Associated Press article “Offshore jobs make for late hours,” when “Henry Ford increased assembly line speed without paying workers more… turnover mushroomed to 400 percent per year in some Detroit-area plants…”

    The parallel is an apt one to ask in an environment in which US workers are being forced to adapt work practices and schedules to accommodate communication with co-workers in other countries. In other words, if offshoring to India is involved, how do you make contact with your extended “staff” except by staying up late? Is it inevitable for people in this situation to get burned out?

    The story offers a bit of advice — aside from the comment that “whiners should find new professions.”

    Peter Hazlehurst, senior vice president of engineering at financial services software company Yodlee Inc., supervises 170 engineers, including 30 in Redwood City and 140 in Bangalore, India.

    Managers recently began alternating weekly meetings between 8 a.m. Wednesdays and 9 p.m. Thursdays, so neither Americans nor Indians get the late shift every time.

    "People are more receptive when they realize that this relatively challenging burden of working between time zones is a shared burden," Hazlehurst said.

    In a rather odd but frank quote, Arup Gupta, president of Tata Consultancy Services America, says the burden should be on the Indian workers: “We can be the ones who put in the overlap time… These types of schedules are baked into India's DNA. We have to earn our money somehow."

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