Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Office- Office: The Great Indian Offsite

We love most things that come prefixed with "The Great Indian" starting with the rope trick (at least those who have seen it), followed by weddings, pomp and show of the popular kind (read Indian Idols and many other idles) and ending with the cricket team. The one exception is perhaps the Offsite.

Any company that employs more than 1,000 people is looking for ways to squander away some portion of the capital gains. Or that is the impression the employee gets when hit with the word Offsite.

"The vaguer, the better" is the universally accepted formula for developing an offsite agenda. The venue is a pseudo-exotic location (the much visited Goas, Pondicherrys, Keralas, and Uttaranchals should ring a bell) with a free blowing booze permit. The journey to reach the venue, touted as an "experience to foster bonding", is often by bus or train – hardly the sort of break your bones deserve after the daily criss-crossing of potholed and traffic filled roads leading from your home to office. Most people end up sleeping on each other's shoulders or sharing the plastic bag for a good post meal throw up. Perhaps that is also sharing at an unconscious level.

The horrors at the venue are usually proportionate to the budget allocated per person. Of course, even chartered accountants can mess up budgeting so it is usually left to a foundling in the Marketing department. Not to be outdone, the HR department usually grabs the running of the hourly program at the offsite. This is what it looks like:

- Drama (attempts at generating a few laughs – either on a stage or through a game)
- Booze (to relax after the drama)
- Grief (effect of the clarity after booze gets into your system)
- More drama (Revelations pertaining to performance – of any kind you may imagine)
- More booze (To help digest the various scenes enacting around you)
- Much more grief (As the real entertainment kicks, either the bar shuts down citing new permit rules or HR decides to join in)
- Boozing till you are hauled up back into the bus with your belongings (Yes 36 hours has passed and you also cheered "Hic! Hic! Hurray")

It is therefore no surprise that the ladies in white, the ageing superstars, the social butterflies and those who prefer Earl Grey usually do not show up for the Offsite. The budget is not conducive to help them bond with the rest. The average employee is average at everything – bonding and boozing included – and most likely to snore before any superlatives kick in. So who truly benefits? My bet is the HR. Hic!