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Work-from-Home: it’s the new-normal!

M.S.Mathew Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Work-from-Home: it’s the new-normal!

When we started the lockdown in mid-March and opened the new vistas of working from home, I am sure that most of us were in a state of euphoria, expecting a much relaxed life. Each of us clenched fists with victorious Yahoo! or a eureka facial glow to celebrate an undefined holiday mode showered on us. It opened an altogether new regimen to discharge official duty– freed of traffic blocks or the chaotic commutation in trains and buses, the inconvenient proximity to a grumpy colleague, the snooping eyes of the bosses and so on. On the first day, I even picked a book from the shelf, expecting to devour it in the very week itself in the luxury of time I thought that has been bestowed upon me. But then it was not to be! Five months, and the book still stares at me, like a bride not consummated as yet.

Except for the rare exception of a few lucky ones, most of us must be working in seclusion, in our makeshift offices – barely a table, or for those in my league, just a sofa with laptop literally on their lap. For many, it’s just their dining table. And lo, the unfortunates, they have to gather all the paraphernalia attached to their work and clear the table for their wives, who like a court bailiff will appear to confiscate the table for serving meals to the family. This ‘work from home’ is not what we bargained for; it was thrust upon us. But after the initial hiccups that barely lasted a week or two, how soon have we settled into a new work protocol! Have we not brainwashed ourselves to believe that we are on 24x7 duty, that our workday has neither start nor end? Did not our psyche whisper to our ears that every mail that sneaks into our mailbox, need urgent attention? Haven’t at least some of us shrugged off indolence and procrastination to become meticulousness incarnate? Indeed, the past few months have been magical transformation.

Where’s the ‘work-life balance’ that we clamored for in the past? Now, un-oblivious to us, we aim to improve efficiency, as though we want to prove a point that work-from-home is more productive. Are we not meeting deadlines ahead of schedule? There are days when I jump out of bed at dawn and rush to my laptop, because I had a nightmare - a nasty note from boss or a not-so-pleasant phone call from a client that night. How soon have we adapted to meetings over Skype and Teams, ensuring at most times that the video button is off because we are not in a presentable form or appeared in a funny outfit of a jacket and tie with a pair of shorts as our lower? There’s no more a distinction between ‘office hours’ and ‘after-office’ hours. Bosses and juniors alike, without an apology, trespass into the personal family time.

Our children, parents, spouses all are deprived of our quality time with them. Of course, I do take short breaks similar to commercial breaks, to take a flash glance at news headlines or a reality show that my family enjoys. But I feel a bit of pain missing the fun.

The work-from-home has its health hazards as well, if we are not careful. In office, of course, our movement was much more than now at home. We had to perambulate within the floor at least to the pantry for a cup of beverage, or to the meeting rooms, or between floors; walk to the car park; drive to client’s offices for meetings; occasionally climb the steps to avoid over crowded lifts; walk to the nearby fast food joint to grab some grub and gossip with the colleagues. All that is gone, and the unsolicited protuberance ,an expanded belly is the new appendage to our body. This shift from regular office routine has left a toll on our eyes too: long hours of gazing at the laptop screen, and absolute lack of long-range vision, as maximum gaze is not beyond the walls of our house.

We humans are adaptable. Even in the pre-Covid days, there were many who had got used to work-from-home schedule. They adapted ahead of us. Now it is our turn. Collectively we will exchange ideas and innovate a protocol to respect our work-life balance, to provide our attention to the kids, spouses and parents alike, to keep us healthy, and yet maintain productivity. On the cusp of the new-normal, as pioneers, let’s boldly embrace the new-normal. Let our civic sense inspire us to respectfully keep our distance and wash the pandemic off our society. Let us step out of our shoes, discard our formals, turn our bedrooms to work rooms and welcome the new-normal.

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