Everyone who has had the opportunity to work outside India almost always has to say one thing about it – Amazing work life balance!

I remember my days in the US when the office used to be empty by 6pm…or in Dubai when we (the Indian Team) used to be the only ones left behind after 5.30 pm (or 3.30pm during Ramzan) alongwith a few other guys from the client side, again all Indians!

I always wondered why is that the case, until I heard from some of my friends in China and Russia (they are from Kearney, so might not be a fair dataset!)

I think the reason has got to be the GDP growth rate of the country!

Indulge me…

If one were to really plot all the countries on a worklife balance scale, I think there will be a high (negative) correlation with the GDP growth of the country. The developed economies (with a low GDP growth rate) will typically have the best work-life balance. And vice versa.

The same can also apply to industries. The one with higher growth rates will typically have people with better work-life balance than the ones with lower growth rates, even within the same country!

And all this is because of the growth prospect.

Even if an american slogs his butt off and works like shit beyond office hours…how much more can he really make, financially and professionally?? Hardly anything.

But if an Indian slogs his butt off…he can easily emerge as the best in a lot of people who dont…which results in fantastic paycheck raises, bigger opportunities etc etc!

Emerging markets are growing so rapidly…and there is such lack of talent especially in the middle, that one can easily rise up provided they bring in quantifiable (or at times just visible) levels of extra output than the average. And this suddenly results in a ratrace, where everyone is trying to outdo the other by spending more and more hours at work…at times ostensibly!

Same goes for companies in general, which have a “bad” work-life culture! They know that if they get their people to work like donkeys, they can actually grow in double digits! Something that a US company cannot think of, even if it gets all its people to work 24 hrs!

This also reflects on why most Indian managers are not comfortable with the “working from home” concept! They need to SEE the output…they feel that the sheer back and forth will result in precious time lost that could bring in that additional 10 basis point of growth!

Naturally…the west is the opposite…and amazingly…working from home is turning out to be as productive as office, as this interesting piece suggests!

So…the next time your boss asks you to stay longer…blame it on the friggin 9% growth!