I enjoyed reading New York Times best-seller The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. But, I feel that Thomas Friedman painted an overly rosy and simplistic picture of globalization.
Let me tell you a true story.
I have a friend who works for one of the largest IT outsourcing companies in India. He is a few years out of college, young, smart, ambitious, and energetic. He is on a team that provides 24/7 technical operation support for a large Internet company in the United States.
He was supposed to come to the States late last year for an assignment. But, he couldn’t make it because he was hospitalized for 10 days. He has developed a very serious form of ulcer. Apparently, among his colleagues, almost everyone has some health related problems.
To support their US customers, my friend and his colleagues work in 3 shifts. They switch shifts every two weeks. When someone just gets used to the graveyard shift, he will be switched to the normal day shift. Their bodies are constantly adjusting to different schedule. I asked him why the company didn’t let them to work in one shift for a few month a time. He told me that each shift has different requirements, and the company wants to make sure everyone is able to support all shifts.
He said that many of his friends were very tired of their jobs, and wanted a way out.
Talking to him made me feel that we should never take anything for granted. Do you work normal business hours? Be appreciative; there are people who have to constantly change shifts.
I think there is an important point here: there is a human cost for supporting a flat world. While businesses are operating 24 by 7, there are human beings somewhere who are supporting the business.
If you work with outsourcing partners, please be kind and respectful for who they’re and what they do. They might have sacrificed a lot to support your business.