These is a distinct difference between work patterns in US and other Western countries, and in India. In the US, employees typically work from 9 to 5, and are very focused during these hours. Even at IT companies, where you have flexi time, employees may come a bit early or late, but their hours in the office are around 8. Lunch is short, and coffee break is just a walk to the machine and back. Outside of work hours, they make calls and answer emails using their Blackberry and other handhelds, wherever they may be.
In Indian IT companies, employees appear to spend long hours in office – often 9.5 hours or more. Most offices get filled up only by 10:30 AM, but people work till late, sometimes waiting for conference calls with clients. Yet, visiting US colleagues in the past have observed how lunch and other breaks are quite extended. An employee goes for a quick tea session, but ends up spending 15-20 minutes chatting with other colleagues as they stop by. Even when on the PC, an intended quick look at the cricket score, becomes a longer browsing session reading up the latest political scam, or Bollywood movie review. Chat and Facebook are distractions in all countries.
Our product Sapience is consistently revealing that out of 9.5 hours in the office, only around 6 to 6.5 hours is on proper work. Employees complain of work-life balance issues, while management frets about whether people are putting enough time. This big gap of 3-3.5 hours can be bridged to benefit employees and the company. With proper time management, employees can, for example, spend 30 minutes less at work (9 hours per day), deliver 30 minutes more on projects (7 hours) and still get 2 hours for personal time. Sapience provides visibility at work to employees and the company, thereby enabling self-improvements at every level.