My family and culture are a big part of my life, and this year, we performed a Mundan ceremony for my son in India. Mundan, called Tonsure in English, is the act of shaving the baby’s first hair on the head. During the Mundan ceremony, a barber is assigned the task of shaving off the baby’s hair. Since my son, Sahib, was born, the pandemic and a few life challenges kept delaying us from celebrating any of his “firsts” as we wanted to. Therefore, we wanted his Mundan to take place where they traditionally should, and we made it! At the beginning of January 2022, I took my son to India for a whole month.
At The Garabedian Group, I lead the assurance department and provide our clients with valuable business advisory, assurance, financial reporting, and tax services.
The #1 quality that attracted me to The Garabedian Group was their firm stance on work and life harmony. The Garabedian Group works in a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). Everyone has complete autonomy and accountability to get their work done. There are 13 Pillars of ROWE, and the two guiding pillars that explain ROWE are:
“Employees have the freedom to work any way they want. The workplace is a tool, not the default location for getting work done.”
“Everyone has an unlimited amount of paid time off (PTO) as long as the work gets done.”
As long as I complete my work and plan client communications accordingly, I can enjoy a month-long trip in India without worry.
The goal was to leave on January 1st and reach Delhi, India, on January 2nd. Before I took flight, there was some groundwork I had to complete. Working in a ROWE does not mean no work gets done; everyone is measured by their own results.
The first thing I had to do to make my trip possible was notify management four months in advance that I was planning a month-long trip to India. At the bottom of my email signature, I added a notice two weeks before leaving. Doing this informed anyone, I was currently corresponding with about my trip. I updated my calendar and emailed my team beforehand to let them know of my plans. Prior to leaving for India for the month, I made sure I met all critical client deadlines. I also emailed clients I work with regularly that I would be out of the office the month of January. If a situation was to arise with a client, I arranged for a colleague to be my backup contact. I briefed my colleague of possible concerns clients may have and where to find information if needed. Most importantly, for work that needed to be completed while I was unplugged, I lined up a colleague to complete that work while I was away and ensured they were clear on the work to be completed and the deliverables to our clients. My goal was to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks, and our clients remained the focus while I was spending time with my family.
I wanted to make the most of my visit to India, so I decided that I would only dedicate one week of my time to work; nevertheless, I sporadically checked my email along the way.
WEEK 1 IN INDIA
When I arrived in India, we stayed at my brother-in-law’s house for most of the month and rented hotels when we traveled.
The first week in India was the most productive. We traveled through three different states in the first seven days, starting with a drive to Vrindavan, the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
In Vrindavan, we visited the famous Bankey Bihari Mandir dedicated to Lord Krishna. The idol of Lord Krishna is mesmerizing. The charm and beauty of Shri Bankey Bihariji is the only reason why the ‘darshan’ in the temple is never continuous but is broken by the curtain drawn on him regularly. It's said that if one stares long enough into the eyes of Shri Bankey Bihariji, the person will lose his self-consciousness.
After soaking in the beauty of Shri Bankey Bihariji, we enjoyed the wide range of sweet and savory street food Vrindavan is famed to have.
On day two, we visited some family in Delhi and went home to Ludhiana, Punjab the next day. Our next destination was Jaipur. To get there, we took an eleven hour long overnight train from Ludhiana to Jaipur. We visited the famous Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, and City Palace.
In Jaipur, there is a huge restaurant named Choki Dhani Village, which is built as a small village. In each area of the village, there are several ornamented areas that you can enjoy for lunch and dinner. We enjoyed dinner with live music, and I shopped my heart out in Jaipur for family and friends and, of course, myself.
WEEK 2 IN INDIA
I would check my emails daily on my cell phone and respond as needed the entire month, and once we came back home from Jaipur, we decided to stay in town for the week while I worked from home. The internet was reliable, and I experienced no technical difficulties. I would work on my laptop before everyone woke up, and I worked at night a couple of times after everyone was off to bed. We would go out in the evening every day for shopping and dinner.
WEEK 3 IN INDIA
We rented a van and traveled to Chintpurni to perform the Mundan ceremony. Afterwards we took a train ride to Karta, Jammu, to visit the Mata Vaishno Devi temple. To get there, we hiked 3.72 miles uphill. This was an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
WEEK 4 IN INDIA
On the last week of my trip, we visited my childhood home in my village. We also went to Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Golden Temple is spiritually the most significant shrine in Sikhism. A few days before we left, we celebrated Sahib’s 3rd birthday in India by donating 100 lunches to children in need. The peace and satisfaction of feeding the hungry cannot be matched with any celebration.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN INDIA
The entire purpose of our trip to India was Sahib’s Mundan ceremony. It was the most memorable moment of our trip. My second most memorable moment was when I met Anu’s brother for the first time as Anu’s wife. We have been married for five years now, and this was the first time I met Anu’s family in person. It was a pleasure finally seeing everyone in person after so many years of chats and video calls.
The most prominent supporting pillar that makes ROWE a thriving work environment is “setting clear and measurable goals continually, so people get more of what’s important done in all aspects of their lives.” What this looks like at our firm is routine workflow meetings measuring team members by their performance, results, or output, not their presence in the office. With clear expectations of what is needed from me, I have the freedom of taking time off when my family needs me, as long as I am responsible and planful with my work.
My favorite pillar of ROWE is # 13: “There is no judgment about how you spend your time.”
Whether I am working from home or taking my son to the doctor’s office, there is no judgment or guilt at TGG.
The freedom to work anywhere as long as the work is getting done has only increased my productivity, as my focus is not on the number of hours I spend in the office but the completion of my projects and the satisfaction of our clients. The best part of working in a ROWE is, as long as our clients are always taken care of, we can enjoy unlimited PTO.
Your life doesn’t stop just because it’s tax season. And it doesn’t have to when you work for The Garabedian Group. We believe in a lifestyle where you have complete autonomy to get your work done and live your life in the way that makes sense to you. In a Results-Only Work Environment™, our team is empowered to work anywhere and anytime as long as they deliver results.