Can a 70 hour work-week help us Shoot to the Top?

For a welcome change, the news making headlines this time around at least belongs to the business domain ( as opposed to the themes of religion and politics that saturate popular media).

It all started during a recent podcast in which Mr Narayan Murthy (Founder, Infosys) said that young IT workers need to work 70 hours a week. Following this remark, a significant debate has been raging on social media where some corporate leaders such as Bhavish Aggarwal (Ola), Mohandas Pai (Manipal), and Sajjan Jindal (JSW) are in favour of a 70+ hour work week and others against it (I was unable to find any well-known prominent business leader who said anything against it).

Reading the various opinions, and thinking through where I stand on this issue, the following thoughts crossed my mind:

  1. It’s the outcome that matters - one could work the usual 48 hours and still achieve the same result as someone working 70 hours or more
  2. We are all different - I was reminded of my time at school, where some friends aced the exam by just studying 1-2 days prior, whereas others struggled even after studying for days on end
  3. It’s not just the number of working hours that matters - to be productive, it’s not just the number of working hours, but also the hours you spend getting quality sleep, the hours spent exercising, the hours spent eating a balanced diet and of equal importance the hours spent with friends & family
  4. Consistency counts - just working for 70 hours for a couple of weeks, followed by weeks of low-productive work will do more harm than good (similar to those that go on an extreme diet or extreme workout plan and burnout in a couple of days)
  5. Read between the lines (or numbers) - instead of taking what Mr Murthy said literally, we should try to understand the intention behind his words, which in my understanding is that work should not merely be seen as a way of earning a livelihood, but rather as a medium to achieve one’s potential while making a meaningful contribution to our team, company, society and country ( read this article for more on this)

As we navigate this debate, let's remember that there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to work hours. Instead, we should focus on what makes us most productive, fosters our well-being, and enables us to contribute meaningfully.