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Its that time of year…the Holiday Cluge

by Brandi Moore on November 11, 2007

According the the Urban Dictionary, Cluge is defined as:

“When the characteristics of something entails a bunch of different aspects which seemingly do not make sense.”

And this is how I would describe the holiday season which has already begun inside India call centers spanning back to that red Starbucks cup you received this am.  First a few things to recognize: India as a whole has lots of gods, lots of holidays but Diwali is one of the larger ones celebrated by the country at large, not just in a particular region.  Of course, do all of the regions of the country celebrate the same thing under the same holiday name?  NO. According to diwalifestival.org:

“In north India, Diwali celebrates Rama’s homecoming, that is his return to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his coronation as king;

In Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth;

And in Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali.

Everywhere, it signifies the renewal of life, and accordingly it is common to wear new clothes on the day of the festival; similarly, it heralds the approach of winter and the beginning of the sowing season.”

Complicated but I believe its ok to summarize it by saying Diwali is known as the festival of lights. A time when houses are cleaned up and made bright.  Lights are used to illuminate the path home for the God(s ) and people are dressed in new clothing.  Fireworks are VERY popular as soon as dusk sets further encouraging the idea that celebrants are sending a signal to the gods to come home.

It should also be noted that Diwali has special significance inside business circles–its considered to be a perfect time to begin new ventures as well as start a new financial year.  People in India will actually say things around this concept like its a new year, and its a new beginning etc.

So, while call centers scramble to fill the shifts on this day, which is especially troublesome considering that this holiday is celebrated at NIGHT when most Indian Call Centers are packed to the gills answering US calls, their managers report going to extreme measures to ensure coverage.  Some reported offering 200% of the daily wage for attendance.  Others indicate that employees are allowed to request this day off months in advance and that space on these lists is limited.  Remember: availability of workers in India is tight so the idea that one will “loose their job” if they don’t show up is somewhat farcical.

As the Western world’s holiday calendar unfolds, project manager should always be aware of India’s holidays when they are planning to work with a remote team.  The beginning of November always brings Diwali, buts its not necessarily on the same day.  Its schedule depends on the moon rather than days.  This year we have Diwali beginning on the 9th which some regions celebrate for several days.  Then we have a full work week, followed by US’s Thanksgiving.  Then a week followed by Chanukah which falls mid-week this year ending on the 12th.  And here we are with one full week before Christmas and New Years follow.

The interesting thing about these absent days on our side of the world is they increase the work from a call center perspective sent over the India.  Prime buying and traveling season fires up the brightly colored lights inside the call centers that blare the number of calls in que requiring additional staff to cover the load.

Be aware of the Holiday Cluge–it is truly a Cluge. It will come at you from both sides with too little staff in India to absent staff in the US to projects that are falling behind and phones that are not answered.  Awareness can manage your project around these dates to reduce making November and December dead zones in your project schedule.

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