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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Conference call sickness (CCS)....blame it on Edison.

Disclaimer 1: Yeah! Its been some time since i blogged. The peace run is broken with this entry as I decided to resume blogging much to the relief of VORG (victims of Rags Gopalan)!.
I should say that the last few months has been quite a stressful period for multiple reasons but nothing too obvious. On the positive side, we moved into our own nest in the month of March and should say sort of settled down now, till we move again :).
Continuing on stress, one study highlights that over 70% of the death globally can be attributed to unmanaged stress... Though that's a startling stat, I don't know whats happening to the balance 30% :).
Without much research I identified one of the main reasons for the "unmanaged stress" in corporates / MNCs is "Internal Conference Calls"... Employees suffering from "Conference call sickness" really don't know how to manage this and feel really helpless on account of various factors....More importantly they dont even know that they suffer from it.
  1. The odd hours that the calls are scheduled invariably screwing your evening and social life since it is a "global" or a "regional" call.
  2. Calls invariably prolong beyond the normal "attention span" for an active brain to participate. Any call that's lasting more than 30 minutes is like "sound waves hitting dead brain cells"..
  3. The level of preparedness on the part of attendees are always baffling. Most of the calls are for information dissemination and not for decision making. They end up fixing the slot for the next call.
  4. The timely attendance by all the participants and the quality of voice are perennial problems...
I think if I am a CEO then instead of using a "Furlough" or "pink slipping" options I would run this scheme in the company... "Take a 25% voluntary pay cut and volunteers be exempt from attending any conference calls"... I am sure there shall be many takers. There has to be a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and smarter ways to share information. "Employee experience" and "Efficiency" shall and should shape the future communication trends within an enterprise.
I was also going through some article on circadian rhythm and the importance of living in alignment with nature. Check the image below. 

You can Google more about Circadian rhythms. But my understanding is as follows:

  • The circadian rhythms are controlled by our body's master clock or what is known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Using sleep as an example, our master clock receives information from the optic nerves about how much light is outside. As the SCN receives information that there is less light the brain is triggered to produce more melatonin so you can sleep. This is one of many reasons why people with trouble sleeping should not watch TV or use the computer before trying to go to sleep as they are too bright and too stimulating. 
  • From the image we can see regular changes in melatonin secretion, body temperature, vascular changes and bowel changes among others. For example, melatonin secretion starts around 9pm and ceases around 7:30am with our period of deepest sleep at 2am. This sets in place a natural sleep cycle for us as humans. For those of us who work late hours or third shift we are in direct contention with this natural cycle and this may lead to issues with sleep or other aspects of our health. 
  • We also see that our lowest body temperature is at 4:30am and our highest is at 7pm. This natural temperature variation allows for many processes in our body to function correctly, yet our temperature controlled environments may not always cater to allowing these functions to completely take place. 

You can check out related articles on the body cycle and how you need to take care of yourself @
But what is the point. Our ability to abuse our own body for our own demise is at unprecedented levels and unbelievable…only if you decide to take a step back and understand what is happening.
One of the main root causes of this over abuse is life style induced....our ability to insulate ourselves from nature. Shutting ourselves out from nature and living in an artificial environment ...essentially in a concrete jungles which is well lit and robs the basic difference between day and night. Life style based stress emantes basically in not recognizing the transition from a “photo sensitive enabled natural life style” to “electricity enabled insensitive lifestyle” and continues till we are addicted to this life style.


So, conveniently ignoring all the developments and progress made and also ignoring the basic premise that it really matters how we use the available conviniences instead of becoming addicted, my conclusion is discovery / invention of electricity is the root cause of all maladies. And Thomas Alva Edison is the reason behind all the stress related disorders including my “Conference Call sickness”.
So in true corporate style, let us blame it on Edison! :)

Yours Stressfully!

PS: An alternate perspective on today's India is "Blessed are those who are not receiving regular electricity supplies for they are the children of nature's god"...


  1. On a side note one of my friends relates it panchayat under a tree. when after all assembled one villager "why is everybody quiet lets start". On a call after everyone there is silence for 2-3 mins ( coz no one really wants to talk.. :-) then someone goes "Okay MR.X ( yeah put X in a spot ) can you give a brief for this call?.." then starts mindless bantering..;-) - Kumaran

  2. Completely agree with the statement relating to - "Our ability to abuse our own body for our own demise is at unprecedented levels and unbelievable…only if you decide to take a step back and understand what is happening". In our race towards some unconnected and sometimes distant (at best) corporate goals, we put our bodies through tremendous and often useless, stress.

    In fact, Author Douglas Rushkoff’s most recent work, Life, Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back, provides an interesting take on how society and the corporate world currently interact and more importantly, how the market forces have changed society for the worse.