Sunday, July 01, 2007

R2I - Work life, a sneak peek!

Please Note
  1. The following points cannot be generalized; they are just based on my discussions with my husband + a few interactions with some of his friends who have also R2Ied.
  2. All of them work for American tech companies in Bangalore. So, most of the points mentioned here only cover such a typical set-up.

Age: One of the aspects that stands out is the average age of the employees - much younger when compared to the average in a typical US office. Hard to say if this is good or bad, but certainly different! The slightly experienced (3-5 years) software professionals are still aiming for opportunities abroad. In an MNC, it is quite common to find the bulk of the middle management to be an R2I crowd, i.e. a crowd that has spent a significant portion of its work life outside of India.

Work Hours: The good thing is that there are really no "working hours". Most of the employees typically start coming in at around 10.00 AM and end up staying late, whether it is required or not. However, based on what I hear, sticking to your preferred work hours is doable if you are disciplined.
In general, if you are particular about spending quality time with your family, you can communicate with your team about your preferred timings, so that they can plan for meetings etc during the hours that work for you. Typically, it is up to you to convey that you will not be able to attend meetings or discussions that are outside of your preferred work hours.
Sticking to your time is more doable if you are an independent contributor than a manager working in tandem with a team. The good thing is a lot more companies are opening up to the value of individual contributors.
Late night or early morning conference calls that you can attend to from home are a given; a majority of the work at middle-senior level will almost always involve working very closely with partners, colleagues, or clients in other countries.

Commute: On commute, less said the better! You have the choice of living close to your work place, which will work well. And if you cannot do that, you can choose to commute during off-peak hours - before 8.00 AM or after 10.30 AM and before 5.00 PM or after 9.30 PM. My husband leaves home at around 7.30 AM and starts from work at around 5.00 PM and it seems to definitely be working for him, since we cannot live close to his work for other reasons.

Work Culture: Apparently, things are more "casual" at work in general than in the US. People seem to chat and “hang out" more than in a typical office in the US, where people are a lot more focused. This may be relaxing or distracting, whichever way you choose to look at it.
For people who have not worked in India before: Typically people do not address their seniors as ‘Sir / Madam’ in this industry.
In general, there seems to be an eagerness to want the title of a 'manager'. It looks to predominantly be a cultural issue; it is kind of considered that you have “arrived” if you are a manager and have people reporting to you. However, this is slowly changing - where some of them seem to be opting for the role of individual contributors and are also more comfortable with the responsibilities that come with it.
And if there's a cricket match going on (especially an interesting one), things are a lot more flexible. You know how it is with cricket!!

Travel - Overseas/India: Travel of some sort is always a given. And if you are back with work experience from abroad, you are very likely going to be traveling overseas to meet your teams, clients almost on a regular basis. This cannot be avoided too much, and is part of the deal!

Interiors & Facilities: On the whole, very nice office spaces and interiors. In most of the offices, the cubicles are designed to seat 2, 3, or 4 people. Some companies do provide individual cubicles, however these are few and far between. Many companies provide gyms, pool tables, ping-pong tables, carrom boards, fooz ball tables, etc.

Cafeteria: There is good food for lunch in the cafeteria. Usually, you get really good Indian food. Some offices apparently have 3 different counters - one for North Indian, one for South Indian and the another serving "diet" food! (My husband wishes that they serve desi Chinese at his place of work! I am quite sure there are companies where they do this too.) In certain campuses that house multiple companies, there are food courts where different cuisines are served. In general the peak lunch hour is between 1.00 and 2.00 PM.

Please add your own experiences/thoughts in the comments section.

Going forth, I will be writing about work opportunities for R2Iers and also taking a general look at the market salaries for the returning Indians. Watch the R2Blore space!


M O H A N said...

Most are valid observations!!

One department which is lagging behind in innovations in any of the MNC or so called elite IT companies is that they are only there for namesake - addressing or coming out with good methodology to solve industry issues is lacking.

nags said...


Very good post. I really liked the way you have presented things here - simple and to the point.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chitra,

My Wife and I are planning to R2I by EOY 2008. Can you please elaborate on how you and your husband went about finding jobs in India.

luv said...

your blog reflects a serious trend of NRI's returning to India, when a large proportion of indian professionals(and thsoe who are currently studying to be engineers and doctors) are queuing for US was really nice to read the comparisons you've far as my intro goes I'm an electrical engg student at iit roorkee.

Chitra said...

Mohan, thanks for your input!

Nags, thanks!

Anon, welcome to my blog. I want to write a post on that as well. I will cover how my husband and some of the others went about their search. I do not work outside of home right now.

Luv, welcome to my blog. All the best with your studies!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chitra,

Thanks for the quick reply. I'll look forward to the post on job serach in india.

GettingThereNow said...

Chitra, yhis is a very good resource for anyone who wants some information on R2I. I feel R2I might not be a good option for families where the wife wants to work out of home full-time too - especially if they have kids, expect to have no family support and want to spend a decent amount of time with their kids. Am I right? Are there any good after-school care options that also provide transport? Are there any companies that might work the typical 9-6 day (extra tele-conferences and work that can be done from home is OK, travel is OK too).


Mahipal said...


Very informative post. I was hoping you'd write more about the salary structures, but I look forward to getting that information in your future posts.

Chitra said...

GettingThereNow, welcome to the blog. I am glad you find it informative. R2I will work if you really want to come back. Without family in the city, it will be harder. If you are particular about your work hours, you can steer your job search based on that and make it clear to your team. There are lots of couples where the 2 of them work outside of home and manage with kids. A lot of people employ full-time maids/live-in maids. Easier to get a lot of manual help here. There are many more good day care and pre-school facilities than ever before. However, I wouldn't know specific details since I do not need them. Feel free to mail me if you have specific questions.

Thanks Mahipal! Yes, I plan to write about it a little later. I have this opportunity to talk to some kind of an expert in this regard. I hope that goes well.

Chickoo said...

Great post! I currently have 6 years of US work experience and I was curious to know about the work culture in Bangalore in particular, your post hit the nail!


Veena said...

Very good post. True, in US i see that lot of people still design and code at their 40s too.. Here people with 5 plus years experience starts working just on MS Word and excel and their most of the time is spent coordinating and getting things done.

namvor said...

fantastic place for info for aspiring R2Iers!

Chitra said...

Chickoo, I am glad you find the post useful.

Veena, things work differently. I have known Americans who were carpenters, bus-drivers etc learn programming etc and join the IT industry in their 40s and 50s. Really amazing!

Namvor, welcome!

Anonymous said...

hi chithra ,
I like your post it is very informative , useful and simple .
let me give a brief background abt myself .Got married in 2003 was working b4 marriage in DSP embedded came to US got no job , infertilty issues no kid ...lots of downs basically ,recently had a baby girl(5mos) only now an up.Meanwhile I wasted 4 yrs by losing touch with programming and hv to shift to new field .net .My hubby wants me to get a job in US and then after few yrs shift to India 30 now .Is the situation conducive for someone like me .

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to future posts on opportunities for R2Iers.

Thanks and keep up the great work.

Sandeep said...

Excellent post !! This is a very good blog for anyone who is considering moving back to Bangalore or India from any other country.

I guess most people make decisions based on their financial objectives when they really say they want to move back to India. But there are other factors too which can influence their decision.

keep writing

An Aspiring Mother And R2Ier said...

Dear Chitra,

Can't believe I have been reading your blog for the past 2 hours when I am supposed to work. I am feeling guilty, but your blog is addictive!

You write poignantly, and yet simply. I am curious if you ever considered literature?

First, to say a little something about me, my husband and I are moving back to India from the US this December. Our primary reason - to start our own family with two children. I am a software engineer, and I like my work in the technology field. My husband, as you'd have guessed, is in the same field as I, but he is in mid-level management. So our professional situation is very much like yours.

Last night, I wasn't able to sleep in a bout of anxiety thinking about how I would cope up with a full-time 8 hours job in a mentally taxing field of software engineering, and also play a role in bringing up my children, and also stay afloat spiritually (I like to meditate and sing Vedic hymns), and also have a life with my sweet husband, and have a relationship with my loving parents and parents-in-law...

Goodness, I am overwhelmed just writing about this...

My question to you is - HOW DO YOU MANAGE??? With two children, and a full time job in software industry, how do you manage to go and have dinner with your husband, or spend time with your Mother, or write such an insightful blog? I am awed with your energy, efficiency, and at the same time horribly afraid that I might not be cut out for it the way you are...

Can you please blog about your time management practices? How you divide your day between activities? What kind of hired/family help you have? It will really give women like me some useful cues about leading a life in India.

- Anxious Me

Chitra said...

Welcome to my blog, Anonymous 1! I am so sorry for not having responded earlier to your comment.
I am not sure I understand your predicament. Are you worried about your work life in the US or about your work life here in India on returning? I hope you come back to read this. Sorry again for not responding earlier.

Welcome to my blog, Anonymous 2! Thanks for your visit. Please stop by often.

Sandeep, thanks! Welcome to my blog.

An Aspiring Mother And R2Ier, Thanks very much! You are too kind. Just want to tell you one thing right away. I DO NOT work outside of home!!!! I raise my kids, I blog, I click pics, I do the chores around the house, I do other enriching things for myself. Period. No multi-tasking! I am no super woman. I hope you are happy now? :)
Please see my profile here,

Please do not be over-whelmed and take it as it comes. Only after you hold your child, will you be able to decide this way or that. So, do not think about it too much right away. All the very best! Please come back to read this comment. I hate to have given you a complex!

Nithya said...

Chitra- chanced upon your blog and come often. I live in NY and am in a unique stuation. I wish to return to India at some point soon. No that's not my uniqueness, I am married to an American. He is open to the idea but realistically I want to understand what his options are? How easy is it for a foreigner to get placed etc.? This is not an urgent question of course but if you are open to it, I'd love to stay in touch to have the conversation. Great blog!

Ashok Kumar said...

In India education sector was set up with more quality and quantity measures.Government takes some reasonable steps towards to build India, has no illiterate people and unemployment.There are so many jobs in chennai awaiting for you.Don't miss it.

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