Experience of working from Home during LockDown – By Tannu Sethi

With the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the world was led to confine themselves in the four walls of their domestic places for an extended period of time. The uncertainty of the outbreak and the need for social distancing forced people of all age, to stay put within their households and leave their workplaces to adhere to the need of the hour. This led to the norm “Work From Home (WFH) comes into action. The norm put forth a significant change in the economy and its mode of working. I, for one, include myself in the category of those who enjoyed the privilege of WFH.

While I had the means to undertake WFH there were millions who longed for such an opportunity . In the short term of my working as an intern in our firm, I have come to love the daily rush and the need for learning something new and sharpening up my previously acquired skills. But with the closure of workplaces, the need to learn and continue with the work didn’t go away. By the end of the first week into the lockdown, the constant feeling of not having enough work to do had left me discombobulated. At first, the idea of staying at home had felt like a much-needed break from the continuous hustle of eat-sleep-work-repeat cycle but with the uncertainty of the time frame for the end of the lockdown led us to ease ourselves to the concept of WFH. With the available means and knowledge of technology, it was rather convenient to follow the practice of working from home.

It has been a refreshing change in a scenario all this while working during the lockdown that too without having to leave the confines of our home. The world of technology has been greatly appreciated during such dire times where the need for such resources that may have never been opted for, now tantamount to a daily necessity. This has made me realise that work knows no bounds. Even with no access to physical workplaces and all those files and documents work can be undertaken if the need arises. The hourly meetings at physical workplaces that could have easily been summarised over an e-mail or via virtual platforms have left me thinking as to how convenient it is to perform such actions that may have required hours of physical preparation and all the extra work and entertainment that had to be undertaken. It’s kind of nerve-wracking to think of all the resources that could have been saved if the practice had been followed in regular times instead of being forced into it by a pandemic that has left the world t o crumbs. Even though it took us a pandemic to appreciate the resources we had been so carelessly disregarding, I have come to appreciate the opportunities that have been given to me. I appreciate what technology can do and how the same should be utilised to the best of one’s knowledge and requirement. I am feeling rather privileged to be a part of the association that not only took quick measures to ensure the safety of those associated with it and to further keep a regular check over the lives of those working with them or for them. Even during the dire times, the association has kept us on our toes with regular tasks and sessions and has indirectly been successful in shifting the focus from the rising number of cases and deaths in the pandemic to a much more productive and learning frame of mind.

The flexible work hours had greatly affected my way of working and adjusting my work-life balance had proved to be a rather hefty task. The seismic shift into the new era of WFH had proved to be a host of challenges along with the ‘n’ number of benefits I have gladly treated myself to. Not having to wake up early hours and then commute all the way across the city to get into my workspace had been one of the most welcomed change, and of course the ultimate joy of not having to dress up and stay confined in the comfort of my PJ’s. That has actually been a major pro and may have saved me hours of dressing up and leaving early to skip the traffic. The fifteen-minute hustle before the team-meetings have proved to be more effective and time-saving. I am rather convinced that any meetings/work that does not require any physical assistance shall now strictly be conducted virtually or via an e-mail.

WFH hasn’t all been hunky-dory, to begin with. It had proved to be a myriad challenge both for the employer and employee.

I again appreciate the inventiveness that had been undertaken by our association in order to ensure that no day goes up without us learning something or bettering ourselves even during such outrageous times. Heaps of organisation and discipline has been put into action for conducting the daily live sessions of imparting knowledge and experience that may have otherwise not been possible during regular working hours. The sessions helped us get through with topics that may not come up in normal courses of business. Considering the well-framed sessions and the choice of topics and the live discussions have left us with more to think about and further enhance the use of the same into our future courses of action.

It was not easy to come to terms that the once domestic space had also to function as a workplace. Maintaining a work-life balance had become a strenuous task. The role-blurring had been the impact of not being able to set forth physical boundaries between the two separate environments. The solace of our own space may have provided a certain peace of mind and a rather more productive environment which may have not been possible during the normal business hours and workplace. But the procrastination was highly present with no one watching me round the clock. The focus may have travelled to faraway places without the work environment and rush of your colleagues towards common goals. With the regularity of live sessions, it had implanted a sense of professionalism where it became necessary to draw clear lines between life and work. The need to set guidelines, and prioritizing tasks, setting up a workspace and separating times with family and work. It proved to be more difficult in the earlier days of WFH where there seemed to be no time frame of work or for sleep or eating. A week into the lockdown had me asking myself what day is it? It was rather comical to think
that the lockdown had us forgetting the day of the week. With no longer having to look forward to the plans for the weekend, it was easy to forget the same.

Job-satisfaction has spread to new bounds. The previous conventions have proved to be less fruitful and the need to feel motivated and fully engaged had become a powerful driving force for me. Flexible working hours and comfort of my bed have proved to be more productive for me. It has become more favourable for people like me who prefer silence instead of the hustle-bustle of the workspace, to get my work done. Never having witnessed and been in such a situation had given me an opportunity to open the tiny windows in my mind to analyse and reflect upon the emotional upheavals in such environment of turbulence. On a personal level, the WFH has given me enough time and opportunity to interact with people across cities whom we had neither time nor purpose to contact. It had greatly helped in team- collaboration and staying productive as well as competitive. The need for the competition had served the purpose of out-doing oneself along with focusing on the end -goal within the time-constraints.

WFH has been a treat in regards to family time. Missed out lunches and family time has been curtailed with different working hours of the family and it barely left us time for our loved ones. WFH has enabled me to carry out the late brunches with family and spending more lively hours with them without the time constraint that always prevailed. On a personal level, it was a learning experience to exploring culinary skills with not having ready means to curtail our appetite for outside food. WFH has proved to be a curious mixture of emotions with simple delights and painful anxieties. But it is true that Today’s storms are Tomorrow’s rainbows. I do not wish for the world to suffer a pandemic to come to terms with oneself and regard the available resources with greater respect and ensuring proper and needful utilisation of the same.

With the situations of the society and the sufferings, the world has come to face have made me realise we need to cherish for what we have while it’s available and accessible instead of taking everything for granted. WFH is a norm that may become the need of the business in the coming days. WFH hasn’t been about absence, but more about presence. Even with the lifting of curfew I see myself looking forward to WFH norms once in a while and whenever applicable. What can be done digitally should be done digitally. Technology that the world has to offer needs to be utilised to the full extent. I am so ready to WFH as and when required and to take up such change of environment once in a while and to indulge and incorporate such activities in an everyday course. It had been a need-of-hour and it still is we need to be a trend-setter and embrace the change for the betterment of oneself before the betterment of society.

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