By Shonell Thakker
Diary 8: The lockdown has brought with it its ups and downs. But not everything is as clearly identifiable as a good or bad outcome.
A while ago, there were extensive news pieces talking about how big corporations were shifting to a 4-day work week. Those from the organisations were envied by the ones who were not. The idea of working from home was a dream come true for most employees. As they say, be careful what you wish for!
The lockdown made it essential for all the businesses to ensure that their employees work from home. Those whose job roles cannot be adapted to WFH ecosystem might eventually lose their jobs while several others are facing pay cuts with the drastically shifting economy.
Even those who are able to work from home now hate the idea. While at office, there was usually a fixed time. Between the coffee breaks and transit time, the day more or less moved at a comfortable pace. With WFH in effect, all the work schedule has gotten open-ended.
The work obligations are no longer time-bound. Some organizations have even adapted more extreme methods like having their employees logged on the video chat to ensure they are productive. Adding chores to this mix makes it even worse.
I live with my parents and a dog and while I am contributing the least in terms of the chores, the whole working from home idea is getting increasingly inconvenient. Remember the viral video of a journalist who got photobombed by his kids and wife? I risk that scenario every single day.
I am mostly holed up in my study, being one of the fortunate few who has the luxury of one and occasionally I need to step out of it to make calls, thanks to the extremely dicey connectivity we experience regularly.
Mum chooses this exact time to ask me all the questions that she had held on asking until then, ranging from the food menu to the list of things needed. Television is perpetually a background noise and there is no ideal volume balance there as dad needs his hourly dose of news updates and news anchors aren’t exactly the most silent ones. Hence, half my time on the call goes in juggling mute and unmute at the right time.
One wrong move would lead to an awkward moment on the call. Once I was talking to a client and forgot to put the call on mute while answering mom. By the time I realized my faux pas the client knew my lunch menu and thankfully joked about coming over for lunch. During a call with my team, I forgot to switch off the video and the team saw their boss sweating it out in the kitchen in the rattiest PJs.
If all this wasn’t enough, personal laziness takes over at random times during the day to make up for the late-night binges and while I could go on with minimal sleep in the past, I am currently in a perpetual state of drowsiness. Naps have replaced the longer sleeping hours and the schedule that was painstakingly created and adhered to now no longer exists.
Thankfully, everyone has gotten more tolerant, accommodating and understanding of the potential background visuals and noises that could interrupt a call and even families are being more sensitive to the fact that WFH isn't essentially free time.
Everything said and done, some balance is slowly creeping back.