It’s not just the work load and projects that may get sent over there, but it’s also the problems that go along with this line of work including tedious hours, a sedentary lifestyle, boredom, monotony, lack of social contact, sleep deprivation, lack of family contact, and a myriad of digestive and health related issues.
Those who are determined to maximize their contract attorney opportunities by exclusively working long hour projects will usually have to sacrifice some of their physical, mental, and social needs for the financial payoff. Even Indian workers in our contract attorney parallel universe over there will likely face similar health effects in the long term.
It’s not easy working long hours sometimes. When you are coming in to work at 8 a.m. and leaving at 12:00 midnight, 7 days a week for many weeks at a time, there isn’t much time to do anything else. During those exhausting stints, everything else is secondary and placed on hold. What time is there left to do anything else?
When you come home so late and have to sleep right away to get ready to wake up super early again the next day, there isn’t much time to socialize with family, pet the dog, or even to take care of routine household chores. Weekdays blend into weekends and merge back into weekdays without much differentiation. Unless you check the calendar routinely or start etching lines onto the wall to track the passage of days, each day feels pretty much the same.
Many firms and agencies that host very long hour projects (70+ hours) will frequently try to make it easier for workers to log those type of hours by extending office hours and providing amenities like free catering, reimbursed meals, internet access, free coffee, and even reimbursed transportation and parking costs. All of these extra benefits serve as a blessing and a curse. Without them, there is absolutely no way I’d personally be motivated or driven enough to work the extra hours. But when they are offered, the sirenic financial and convenient lure is difficult to resist.
I find myself at the office and the review center at all hours, working away at my workstation for periods of time that seem endless. My regular fitness plans at the gym pretty much go out the window at that point and I live a very sedentary life while the project is underway. I’m only released from this voluntary servitude once the project is over. This is not really a complaint, but more of a social commentary. I guess the financial payoff is so lucrative that I’ve made the decision that any temporary health and social detriments are worth it.
The article notes that India’s outsourcing workforce frequently face sleep disorders, heart disease, depression, and family discord. The industry is highly profitable but there is a high prevalence of psychological problems, bad diets, as well as excessive smoking and drinking. Since contract attorneys frequently work similar tedious hours and perform similar repetitive work, that might explain why we also face similar health and social problems as well. I guess that might help to explain one of the reasons why I’ve met many contract attorneys with weird, quirky, and mentally odd personalities.
But at least contract attorney work here is generally a daytime position that doesn’t pervasively require night shifts (although there have been 24 hours projects in the past). The Indians that perform outsourced jobs on the other side of the world have to contend with working flipped schedules that demand late evening shifts. Particularly for those Indians that work in the outsourced call center industry, they need to work at night to properly handle daytime calls from the United states and Europe operating in different time zones. I wonder if those in India who might be eventually called upon to perform legal outsourced work would be required to work such flipped schedules to properly coordinate with management activity originating in the United States. If so, they are in for a host of sacrificial problems.
But my advice to legal contract workers here is to try to keep your life in a good balance. Sure you’ll make a ton of money from working long overtime hours, but do take time off to exercise, stretch outside, and go outside for a quick breather. There are many gyms in the Washington D.C. area and although membership may be a bit pricey, I think taking an occasional break during the week to run on the treadmill and shower afterwards might do everyone some good. And stop smoking, it’s expensive and bad for you – but then you already knew that right?