No, we don’t need 70-hour workweeks: Nadir Godrej

Nadir Godrej, Managing Director, Godrej Industries and Chairperson of Godrej Agrovet, in conversation with Shradha Sharma, says productivity isn’t tied to working hours.

No, we don’t need 70-hour workweeks: Nadir Godrej

Monday February 12, 2024,

4 min Read

Key Takeaways

  • Nadir Godrej believes in focused work and not long hours. 
  • He says a happy employee is one who has time to pursue hobbies outside of work. 
  • He believes workplace flexibility is beneficial as long as the work output can be adequately measured. 

Indian workplaces are facing a conundrum. Physical workspaces have reopened but employees aren’t ready to come into the office yet. The trend points to employees wanting to work remotely. However, employers want their teams in office for ease of communication and monitoring work output. 

In this unending tug of war, Nadir Godrej is an outlier. Neither does he believe in compulsory work-from-office models nor does he advocate 70-hour workweeks. In fact, he wants employees to do much more than just work. 

“I don’t think GenZ should work 70 hours a week. Instead, let’s measure work output,” says Nadir Godrej, Managing Director, Godrej Industries and Chairperson of Godrej Agrovet, in conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory. 

“People need to work in a focussed manner, while pursuing non-work things well,” says Nadir, adding that he continues to be a proponent of working from home. 

“If you can measure productivity, there is no reason to insist that people come to work. Having said that, working from home permanently means that employees miss out on workplace connections. So I am all for flexible working, where people work a few days a week from the office,” he explains. 

Nadir’s views on work culture is a stark contrast to what some of his contemporaries believe. For instance, Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy earlier said that young professionals in India should work 70 hours a week to improve the country’s productivity levels. 

Productivity is now being measured differently in different countries. Germany, for example, has started a six-month trial of a four-day workweek. The endeavour is to enable employees to be less stressed and more productive. 

Nadir explains that it is all about maintaining a good work-life balance. This, he says, helps employees to give their best at work. 

Finding one's passion 

Nadir has had extensive work experience–right from the pre-liberalisation era of the 1970s and 1980s and the post-liberalisation period from 1991 onwards to the digital-first era of today. 

Born in Mumbai, he studied engineering at IIT Bombay and later graduated from MIT as a chemical engineer. He earned an MBA degree from Harvard Business School as well. He then came back to India to join his family-run Godrej Group. 

Even as India operates in a globalised world, Nadir is strongly aligned with the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-sufficient India) vision and the importance of looking for opportunities within India. 

He ties this theme with the rise in the ambitious and aspiring breed of young professionals. Being a dedicated working professional is paramount. Along with that, he advocates that career-minded youngsters should think long-term. 

“Young professionals should do things that are fulfilling, purposeful and useful to society. Look at socially good businesses. When it is very purposeful, it will give you satisfaction, and it is bound to be successful in the long run,” he says.

Nadir is exuberant at the number of young people working for social causes. He says that new-age liberal educational institutions such as Ahmedabad University and Ashoka University are bringing a change in outlook.  

Nadir is not only excited about young Indians, he is also equally buoyant about the startup ecosystem. 

He uses Adam Neuman’s WeWork as an example to emphasise that entrepreneurs should not let go of sustainable business practices in search for growth.  

“Work faster but do it without losing your values. Build businesses that create value, that create a network effect, and are socially good,” he adds. 

Nadir suggests that young professionals start building with a spirit of collaboration.

”It is very dangerous if we are only thinking in silos, if we can’t interact with those from other backgrounds. Because all of us have to work in teams,” he explains.

As a true believer in India’s potential, Nadir is bullish about the future. He believes that opportunities are plenty and that inclusive growth and development is our key to success. 

Embodying the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (world is one family), Nadir says, “If India can contribute to producing peace in the world, it would be a wonderful thing. We should also make sure that all of India is one family. If we all work together within India, the sky’s the limit."