By Renjini Liza Varghese –

In the contemporary world, the pursuit of sustainable individual development (SID) has become a paramount goal for many. This holistic approach encompasses various aspects of life, including work-life balance, healthy living, community involvement, and self-development. It is a vision that stands in stark contrast to the outdated notion of working excessively long hours, as famously suggested by former CEO of Indian IT company Mr. Narayana Murthy. The implications of such a work ethic on issues like gender parity and employee well-being deserve careful consideration.

The concept of SID encourages us to evaluate our choices and priorities in light of our overall well-being. While it’s true that some individuals may find success by working 70 hours a week, it’s important to remember that one size does not fit all. The Infosys co-founder’s statement, while well-intentioned, could inadvertently widen the workforce gap, especially when striving for gender parity in the workplace.

Gender parity is a fundamental aspect of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that have gained considerable momentum in recent years. Organizations around the world are making substantial efforts to bridge the gender gap, promote equal opportunities, and foster an inclusive environment. Proposing long working hours as a norm runs counter to these essential efforts, potentially hindering progress.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly transformed our world, especially the way we work. Flexible working arrangements have become the norm. While this has numerous benefits, it also has challenges. Increased stress, reduced social interaction, and health are among the top issues prevalent among working professionals. In this evolving landscape, employee welfare has emerged as a key focal point, particularly under the “S” factor of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) compliance.

Of all the aspects within the “S” category, health takes precedence. Long hours of work can lead to various health risks—especially lifestyle-related diseases like hypertension and obesity. To maintain SID, a balance between work and personal life is essential. We must prioritize our health and well-being to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Advocating for excessive work hours is counterproductive in today’s world. Rather than endorsing such practices, it is crucial to promote smart work and flexible working arrangements that enable individuals to be more productive without compromising their health and personal lives. SID involves considering the long-term impact of our choices on our well-being, our communities, and our world. It’s a vision that aligns with the evolving work culture and the growing emphasis on employee welfare and inclusivity. In a world that is changing rapidly, let us adapt and evolve while ensuring we prioritize our health and happiness on our journey toward sustainable individual development.

My mantra is to work smart, be flexible, and be productive!!! What’s yours?

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