Enough flippant remarks have been made about the concept of ‘Indian Stretchable Time’ that the very term has come to represent a cliche of sorts.
But while arriving fashionably late to a dinner party or missing the opening scene of a movie may not constitute an epic disaster, not being punctual becomes a lot more serious when it’s taken into the workplace — or for that matter, any sort of formal environment.
In fast-paced industries, a few hours here or there could make or break budgets and there is no room for buffer-time or extended deadlines. Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans from different walks of life to find out how important punctuality is to them.
Bindu Sastry, who works in the information technology field, believes that the issue of punctuality in her industry is double-edged.
“On one hand, we believe in keeping a little flexibility when it comes to time. For instance, we don’t require our employees to clock a specific numbers of hours per day, or insist that they reach work at a particular time — we simply make sure the work is getting done and we trust that employees won’t misuse this freedom,” she says, adding, “I think the IST cliche holds true for most industries but to a certain extent, our situation is a little better.
One reason for this is that we work with global teams and have to be sensitive to the time they operate on. The other is that being late often translates into losing revenue,” she says.
While most top-brass managers understand this dynamic, she laments the fact that many professionals at the lower levels of the corporate ladder don’t, saying, “When it comes to a delivery, if you slip by even a day you could lose a customer. People need to understand this on the ground — when they don’t work on time, it has a ripple-effect and can disrupt the working of the company. Casual approaches to deadlines shouldn’t be tolerated.”
The world of fashion retail also works on a similar mantra. Suhasini, a professor at NIFT, explains that the industry ensures it keeps time because profit-motives compel it to do so.
“In fashion, time is everything. We don’t have the luxury of being late, especially in the retail and export business. Whoever puts a product in the market first is the clear leader — so timing is everything and lateness can cause losses. Besides, the market is very competitive — so if deliveries aren’t made on time, one can lose shelf-space,” she says.
However, she does admit that within offices, employees can sometimes be prone to lax behaviour on the punctuality front. Sharath Vishnu, a student of St Joseph’s Pre University College, believes that punctuality has nothing to do with industry — it’s a function of compulsion and individual belief.
“At my school, our teachers are very strict about turning up and submitting assignments on time. We also had to maintain a certain level of attendance, so we ensured we were punctual till we cleared that,” he explains.
Personally, he loves to trek and when it comes to this passion, he doesn’t compromise on time. “I follow a very strict timetable when I’m on a trek or during training. It’s all about a person’s mentality,” he observes.