Late hours in office… Pakistani Corporate Culture?

Posted on January 25, 2008
Filed Under >Syed Ahsan Ali, Economy & Development, Society
Total Views: 33525

Syed Ahsan Ali

After a hardwork and serious studies of 4 years, my friends and I got our Economics degrees from the University of Karachi. Before jumping into the job market we were all afraid of our future because we had heard stories that in Pakistan, good jobs are only landed by using bribery, influence (sifarish) or other unfair means.

On the contrary, soon enough, most of my University buddies landed themselves good jobs in banking sector which paid them handsomely with attractive perks and all on merit. So it came as a blessing and good surprise that most of us got decent jobs without any unethical means.

At present, most of my friends qualify as part of the burgeoning middle-class, which has been progressing decently by earning good money. They live in comfortable houses, their kids go to good schools, they travel in cars leased from the loans from their banks and they eat fast food. To sum it all up they have the status and the lifestyles that remains a dream of millions of other Pakistanis.

Life is imperfect though. My friends also have their share of problems which is affecting their lives in one way or the other. In most cases, these problem occur due to creeping work hours. In the begining they look harmless and go unnoticed, because they are accepted as a norm of corporate life in Pakistan. But slowly but surely cracks began to appear in the fabric of family life. Earning men and women in Pakistan now find themselves spending more and more time in office and less and less time with thier spouses and children.

Some say it is the norm of corporate culture; Some say it is the way their bosses want them to live their office-lives and some say it is nothing but the way things work in a salaried society. But I want to call it exploitation. Exploitation of making employees sit late in the offices to work like a bullock in fields. The work hours now go well after their scheduled 9-5 timing.

Sitting late in the office is making people perpetually tired and irritated. Wives are getting enormous burden of caring for the whole family without due support from their husbands. It is disturbing the balance at home and can lead to lot more severe repercussions. More and more, wives alone are helping children to do well in studies in stiffer competitions at schools; they do shopping for the whole family including their hubbies alone; they drive cars to pay utility bills and look for plumbers, electricians and what they get at the end of the day? A sleepy and tired husband irked after long and tiring day at job which usually spans around 12-15 hours.

I have come across several people in private companies who work untill midnight just because their companies look to get bulk of work done with the lean work force. In some offices, bosses like to sit late in the offices just to show how efficient and effective they. This puts extra pressure on the staff who also tend to stay late and don’t want to appear as those who dare to leave before the boss.

My brother works in a renowned Pharmaceutical Company where work hours stretch to days. My family has seen him spending nights in the offices sleeping on the office desks because they have to finish a project no matter how and no matter what. Recently, I heard from my brother that one of his colleagues quit the job because his parents, and especially his sick mother couldn’t bear his late sittings after what happened with peace and law in recent months in our country.

Money is important. There is no argument against it. But one should not get so blindedsighted in the greed of it that we fail to understand that money is good only when we can have time to spend and enjoy it.

As increased numbers of heart diseases and heart attacks in Pakistani males has something to do with the kind of culture that prevails at our workplaces. Enormous pressures of getting the most out of our jobs to give better futures to our children are making men and women of Pakistan, money-making machines. Our marriages are also getting disturbed by this trend because wives think of themselves as maids who were brought from their parents houses to tender to husband and his family single-handedly. Children are also getting used to the fact that they have only one person to tell each and everything and that is their mothers because their fathers are always in the office.

We need to understand this and stop this exploitation at the hands of our organizations because we are their employees not their slaves.

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ATP post on Similar topic: Job Security in Corporate Pakistan

45 responses to “Late hours in office… Pakistani Corporate Culture?”

  1. Khalil says:

    Late sitting in offices is only because of some stupid bosses, who want to make a lot of progress in the company. Actually, they are mad men who don’t care of their social lives. They think that Allah made them only to work in office and nothing else. All educated new comers should protest againt this system and stop it at all.

  2. Siddhartha says:

    Very well written. The work culture is absolutely the same here in India. I don’t think things will ever change.

  3. Naveed Baig says:

    Nice review, I will like to change last two lines of your post:-

    We need to understand this and “suffer” this exploitation at the hands of our organizations because we are their “slaves”not their “employees”.

    Secondly, this is how it goes. Specially (SH)IT software houses are like these. I myself have suffered alot and now doing job on “work-at-home” basis.

    I wonder why Musharraf has issued the Web ethics codes law before issuing exploting of the employers!! duh !

  4. Nayyar Jawaid says:

    People make it habit and form a shape of culture later. When someone leaves office on time at 5.00 pm , bosses start staring like as if he is doing some crime.

    Once or twice in a week is OK but dont make it habit otherwise people start expecting everytime that you can stay back for small small work.

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