How would you respond to a request for compensatory holidays for weekends spent in the office? The question is unthinkable in the advertising industry; long hours and weekends spent fretting over silly client demands are par for the course.
So I was quite surprised when a colleague of mine asked me precisely this question? We had worked very hard on the weekend and as we were winding up, he wanted to know if the two days could be added to his annual leave?
My colleague is a hard working sort, with 15 plus years of experience in India and Dubai. He has worked in agencies that barely escape being called sweat shops, he knows the score in our industry, so where was this strange question coming from?
It seems that his previous employer was an enlightened creative, and if someone worked a weekend, the days (spent working) were added to the annual leave. My colleague had spent nearly eight years in this company, and compensatory days off were perfectly normal from his perspective.
I advised him to let the matter rest, lest his bosses see him as a work shirker, a Leftist of sorts, a trouble maker and possibly all three. And so he did, he is not one who will needlessly pick up an issue.
But the incident does illustrate a point we often overlook; till you know where somebody is coming from, you will find it very difficult to understand them, leave alone develop any kind of empathy.