Office Tigers vs. Dead Tired – SBS has a sense of irony!

17 06 2009

a few weeks ago, SBS broadcast the first episodes of two documentary series, ‘Office Tigers’, and ‘Dead Tired’.  Office Tigers is a 4 part series about the inner workings of an Indian business taking outsourced business from major USA corporations.  Dead Tired is a two part series about the consequences of westernised culture that habitually compromises sleep in favour of living ever faster and more complicated lives.

after watching the first episode of Office Tigers with very mixed feelings, i couldn’t help but laugh and cry at SBS’s sense of irony by following it immediately with Dead Tired.  having wrestled with my own “sleep hygiene” issues over the last several years, it’s obvious to me that the importation of western business (and social) culture into India – including less sleep – is likely to result in the same dramatic impact to health – but on an Indian population scale.

several years ago i read a book called ‘The Promise Of Sleep” (2000, William Demment & Christopher Vaughan).  Demment is a pioneering sleep researcher, investigating not only sleep, but the usually hidden consequences of not getting enough of it, over a period of almost 50 years, especially back when almost no one else was giving it a second thought.  Dead Tired is an insightful TV documentary covering similar ground, based on a broader body of more modern research, and which echos Demment’s concerning findings and warnings about our sleep-deprived culture.

in the offices of Office Tigers in Channai, the American co-CEO inculcates his Indian employees with what I view as the WORST aspects of modern western business culture.  he roams the office chastising employees for not wearing their ties; has his supervisors warn their employees that if they take a day off, it’d better be only for something serious like septisemia rather than the flu; and encourages working absurdly long hours (the office is open 24/7 running shifts – there’s no locks on the doors, just a few security guards).  this is all justified by claiming to be a meritocracy rewarding hard work.  yeah, right…

India’s burgeoning middle classes (which it never really had much of until relatively recent times) are understandably clamouring for the salary and lifestyle that comes from working in these new western companies.  but what are the consequences?  not only are a billion Indians (and more than a billion Chinese) rapidly developing societies with the same energy demands of the west, with all the global warming & finite resource consumption concerns that have been mulled over by east & west alike for many years now, but they’re following our footsteps into sleep-deprived western lifestyles!

what will it be like for such a huge populace to suffer (and fail to tackle) the hidden health problems that come from typical western sleep-deprived lifestyles?  just look around you:  lower productivity, horrible car accidents, sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and more.  yay…

and once again, SBS rocks with two fascinating documentary series, whose combination is deliciously ironic.