#globalite Sagana’s poignant post on the changing workplace due to globalization, working in virtual distributed teams
Why can’t Corporate and Personal interactions be together?
Having grown up with middle class living, always budgeting on financial decisions, it was no surprise, that I chose a career that gave a good pay. I never dreamt of being a house wife, and always desired to be independent financially. Left to passion, I would have probably been soldering a cathode ray oscilloscope in a hardware store.
Like milliards of others, I chose to be in the IT industry, also referred to as the corporate world and have gone through all the toll of changes that IT industry has been through. From a travelling abroad job, to living abroad, to having a local team, interacting long hours, to get projects done on short turnarounds, I have only far enjoyed the job, for the last 15 years.
I have never complained on change of operating style, to outsourcing, the weirdest of change being, interacting with people over long hours of phone conversations, almost years together, not knowing their race, or nature, or mood swings, I understood and jelled completely into the so called ‘corporate routine’. I was applauded so many times for getting work done, individually and running it through teams across the globe, because I had the skill to communicate, to convince and to train people to do the work, without physical proximity.
As with all IT jobs, my bosses changed, everyone around me local left, except for one soul. All the newly trained folks global gained experience, moved up, or moved out, for better prospects. It hurt when people left, though I concealed it well, and there was always a new team/member to interact.
My mom always had puzzled looks on how I could work, while I was on calls 6 hours a day. I answered my puzzled mom and many such friends, on how you can work from home and not work at home; I could carry on that ethic, without a problem.
I never had a grudge or complaint on the retraining role that I had to execute over the last 8 years. However, all these ever changing resources, short of resources, had a personal toll for me, I realized that I had lesser personal sharing with people at virtual work space. I wondered if we have become virtual machines ourselves, along with the use of VMware. Exchanging hellos on IMs became the normal mode of conversation. We could even carry out emergency requests over a chat interface!
Contradicting to that thought, despite all the globalization, I made quite a few work friends, that I knew only by voice, who could call me for their personal issues, facebook friend me and like my posts and I wished them on their marriage and child birth occasions, but always wondered if I should draw a line.
All this pondering was finally put to rest by a young girl that worked with me; she worked well, cheerfully, except for occasional absenteeism she never disclosed any resentment. I would question her boss and all I would hear is that she had personal problems. Never once did I think of giving her a call to find out why or what it was about. We would resume work with casual ‘how are you, doing better?’ And she would carry on work like nothing changed.
After my winter break, I had the rude shock of hearing that she ended her life, not knowing how to resolve her personal issues. I only wish I had that one opportunity to stop that young girl, show her there is life beyond problems, money or marriage or material issues. I wish I had changed one business conversation to a personal check on that girl with negative emotions.
None of these words can bring her life back, but it does bring back the human in me. I am not in a virtual world. The people on the other end of the virtual world have feelings, have real life. I will take the moment to pay attention to those details that indicate emotions; this would be a promise to my self this new year.
[Photo Credit: Sastha Prakash]