When I talked to my friends who are working in HK, they often complain they don’t have any work-life balance. HK people probably has the highest average working hour in the world. It is not uncommon that people comes to work on 9am and work till 8pm to 10pm. No wonder when I ask them what they do outside of work, they pretty much does not much other than sleep or mundane brainless activities like watching TV, movies or shopping. It is because their have totally drained their energy at work.
Recently I feel like I am working in HK. The project is approaching the deadline, although my own tasks are in relative good shape, unfortunately an Indian team is on fire and I am parachuted to help them out. It’s not fun being in the hot seat﹐ especially when the upper management pays close attention on the schedule, you have to work with a team of Indian contractors who are not your direct report and some of them have the tendency of running on their own.
I tried to employ the chief programmer development model to speed up the development, but there is a major draw of this approach. The chief programmer has to keep up and stay on top of the team in order to have full control. If the team is located in the same physical location, it is much easier to communicate and direct the work. My team is 12 time zones from me, so I only have one chance to interact with them per day. Giving instruction via email is very inefficient because I have to make sure everything is very clear, if they got stuck they will have to wait another day for my response. I set up office hour every night to answer their questions, combined with early morning meeting and working late to keep up with their work, it really cut into my person time in the evening. I am so exhausted that I don’t even have energy to update my blog. I rather shut off my brain and watch some TV on the hour I manage to squeeze between dinner, wife-time and work. Now I understand why the life of my HK friends are so dull, because there is no work-life balance.
When my boss asked me to fly over to India fix thing up over there. I weight the lesser evils between travel to Bangalore a couple of weeks get things back on track or have conference call every night until project ends. I rather suffer a short period of time than drag on in a prolong period of pain. Well, think about the good side, I have 12 hours transfer in HK on my way to India, I can visit my grandma and go for some brief shopping.