Making ‘Work from Home’ Work
The routine in quarantine
When I heard that employers all over the country were shifting to ‘Work from Home’, my heart did a little dance. No travelling to work in crowded metros, no awkwardly long meetings that could have been emails, no futile face-to-face client interactions, need I say anything more? But I didn’t get off to the best start.
Here, let me paint you a picture of my first couple of days.
I woke up much later than I usually would have, brushed my teeth, had a cup of tea and a quick breakfast. Then jumped on to the couch (still in my pyjamas), opened my laptop, coiled myself into a ball and started working.
Three days in, my schedule started getting messed up. So did my back. I used to take 20 phone calls, yet I felt all alone. My one-hour lunch break got crunched down to 15 minutes. And tea breaks started becoming a long-lost memory.
Why did it all go awry?
After some analysis, some introspection and some talking to people, I realized there are two ways WFH can go.
1. You relax and get nothing done
2. You become super-tensed and never have a moment of peace
WFH really brings out who you are. You are left to be your own boss and manage your own time, right? Which is why, I was Case 2, because I apparently can’t relax until my to-dos become to-dones.
Here’s what went wrong for me.
I never clocked-out
If you are at work, by 8 PM you’re out of the door. There’s no looking back. New mails and briefs are tomorrow’s problems. But at home, the problem is right in front of you 24*7. I found myself reading my mail at 11 PM and stressing about the next day jobs. I caught myself picking up calls in the middle of dinner!
I worked on the couch
I had read a million articles about not working on the couch or the bed. But honestly, my study table isn’t my most favourite place in the world. But on day 3, I set up a mini home office. If nothing, it helped me keep my spine straight during work hours. I haven’t gotten out of my pyjamas though. Baby steps, baby steps.
I tried to over-assess every step
My plan was to have minimum interaction with people involved and finish work ASAP. I anticipated my boss’s POV and worked towards that. I anticipated my client’s feedback and worked towards that too. When people are right in front of you, you can convince them, you can assess them. Working remotely means you have no idea what the other person is thinking. So, I wanted to be ready for the worst scenario, every time.
I didn’t exercise
It takes me two rickshaw rides, one local train ride and one metro ride to get to office. Not to mention a dozen bridges, dodging between a hundred people and of course, all the while carrying a big bag. I wouldn’t call all this the ideal ‘exercise’. But at least I moved a little. The whole of last week, I was a blob. Just yesterday morning, I started climbing up to the terrace and skipping for 15 minutes. I don’t know how helpful it’s been, but at least I feel better about myself.
Today is day 7 of WFH. I’m in a rhythm now. And I’m still learning the ropes along the way.
On a tangential note, it’s in the worst possible circumstances that human resilience is tested. Be it war, famine, or a virus outbreak. We will adapt. Imagine what all we can get through, once we get through this.
As employees, WFH makes us more trusting and responsible. It is impossible to monitor what employees are up to at home. The only way to go about it is trusting your juniors or your colleagues to do their jobs well. And do your own jobs well too, because there are others trusting you.
As people, WFH has allowed us all to loosen up a bit. We’ve all been so taut till now — like a kite string almost at breaking point. Now, we’re being forced to spend time with family, pursue our hobbies, call an old friend. Sad that it took a pandemic for us all to take a moment for ourselves.
Anyway, if you’re working from home during the time of corona, hang on tight. You’ll get in the flow. And relax. Those sales targets and client meetings shouldn’t seem so insurmountable, when you’re also facing a deadly disease on the side.