It’s been almost a year since a lot of us have entered the realm of Work From Home (WFH). What looked like a daunting change to adopt, has now become BAU. Yes, the pandemic has been tough in so many ways, however wanted to pen down few lighter thoughts on WFH.
Unmute: Not sure what the official version of the ‘Word of the Year’ would be for 2020, but from a popularity perspective, both in Zoom and MS Teams, it has to be ‘You are on mute’ (ok that was a sentence!). We are all guilty of using that or being used at once or twice a day. Well, there are also other strong contenders like ‘Can you come closer to the mic’ or ‘Your voice is breaking’. These are crossovers from yesteryear’s Skype conference calls, but their frequency has just increased with the advent of WFH.
It’s a no-brainer that, in this time of physical distancing, to be connected, we need to ‘Unmute’ and speak a lot more (at least 2.5X times of the normal) whenever possible. This applies not just to work, but also to personal relationships. Luckily for us, technology is enabling that. I have had more video calls during this time with my family and old friends, than ever before.
To Video or Not to Video: This question is a daily choice that we struggle to make with every call. For those venturing souls who turn on the video, the trending summer collection was the age-old cliché of a shirt, a tie, and shorts, especially when there is an important meeting. As people realized that WFH is here to stay, company-branded polo shirts started hitting the scene.
My boss maintains a running list of excuses of people who do not turn on the video. The popular excuse is ‘bandwidth’ or ‘You don’t wanna see me like this’. Personally, I prefer to switch on the video (when possible) as majority of communication is non-verbal and video just helps pass on the message better.
Weight Issues: As far as weight is concerned, a lot of us have transitioned from Thor in Infinity War to Thor in End Game. Nearly 5k to 6k steps have been wiped out of our daily life due to WFH. This has to be compensated by additional exercise or diet.
This brings us to the concept of ‘Home Walker’, and no it has nothing to do with Game of Thrones. It’s a win-win situation if you can walk while taking calls. I learned this from my better half. It not only helps in exercise but also in avoiding the pitfall of too much sitting (they say ‘sitting is the new smoking’).
Blurring Lines Of Work And Life: Being an HR. professional (another tribe of unsung heroes in this pandemic) my better half started working from the office in May. So, it was Lea (our 6-year-old) and me who were at home. In one room she would be attending her online classes and in another, I would be attending my calls.
Most days, in between, like we meet colleagues in the office pantry, I would cross paths with Lea in the kitchen, while getting water.
I would ask her, “Hey, you finished your homework?”.
“Yes, I did. Did you finish yours, Papa?”
“You will finish faster if you stop talking on the call and do your Homework,” The 6-year-old was right. Most of us are bombarded with 15 to 20 calls a day and run out of time to create deliverables. After that constructive feedback, every day in the morning, I would block 2 to 3 hours of my calendar just to prioritize ‘non-calls-related’ activities such as presentations or reports.
A positive of this entire WFH is that I got to spend more time with my daughter and help out with her learning. However, this required conscious effort to disconnect. It’s always tempting to send that one last email or make that one last call.
There are lot more experiences to share. However, I am sure all this is too familiar to most of us. This is yet another change that we are going through together. I guess all we can do is embrace it positively, see the silver lining, set boundaries, and make the best out of it.