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50 days since lockdown: How professionals have adapted to work from home

50 days since lockdown: How professionals have adapted to work from home

50 days since lockdown: How professionals have adapted to work from home
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By Surbhi Jain  May 16, 2020 12:19:43 PM IST (Updated)

Many of us – whether you like or not – have had to alter our lives and work schedules to continue delivering so as to get our salaries at the end of the month. spoke to people in various sectors who are working from home to find out how their experience has been so far.

It is 50 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown, bringing the country to a virtual standstill following the coronavirus outbreak.

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Given the unprecedented situation, most working professionals have had to alter their lives and work schedules in order to be able to contribute to their workplace. spoke to people in various sectors -- including from our own channel -- who are working from home to find out how their experience has been so far. Here’s what they had to say.
Vaishali Sabherwal, Manager at Yes Bank (Financial Markets), Mumbai
“Two months back, no one in the sector could have imagined that the treasury department at a bank could survive a complete work-from-home setup. However, we decided to try it and here we are, almost seven weeks into this new setup. It has not been easy, but we are managing it to the best of our ability.”
“As far as my personal experience goes, I am staying alone during this lockdown. The day begins with taking stock of work and quickly working on the day’s task. The speed is less than usual for many things as there are certain disadvantages about not being with others in the same office. Moreover, multiple interactions with different people over the phone -- one after another -- delays things compared to being around each other. But all of this and juggling household chores has not been easy. The increased home chores balance out the travel time that we otherwise would have saved. Nonetheless, one thing that keeps me going is my hour-long workout schedule, and no matter how late it gets I make sure to work-out daily. However, I cannot wait to get back to the office. With each passing day, it is becoming lonely working from home, I miss the people I work with and the laughter we share.”
Rohan Joshi, comedian, Mumbai
“Being alone has been interesting because I’ve lived alone for almost a decade now and I thought I was good at it. But, just a few days in the kitchen and a few days without meeting friends made me realise how wrong I was. Overall, I’m enjoying the rhythm of waking up, cleaning the house, making some lunch, spending the afternoon working, and the evening talking to friends over video calls. It also helps to have two cats here. It isn’t the same as human interaction but it’s hard to feel alone when a ball of fur is curled up and snoring in your lap. If you ask me if this is normal, I’d say, ‘absolutely not’. But in an extraordinary world, this is the closest I have been to leading a normal schedule, else I feel it could be worse.”
Upahar Biswas, freelance fashion photographer, Kolkata
“I quit my desk job to start off as a freelance photographer four years back. I would like to welcome everyone to the work from home club, especially those who thought it would be a holiday -- that they wing it, and enjoy an occasional drink, stay in with the laptop in bed, binge watch Netflix or take a nap in between. I’m sure everyone has now realised that what exactly it means to work from home. But I have followed a few rules as a freelancer working from home. Firstly, pretty up the place and leave the bed for your pets. Set up your home office, find yourself a comfortable chair. If you don't have one, buy one as it’s going to be your best friend in the days to come. Invest in a good wi-fi. Be accessible during work hours only. Since you are working from home, it will get difficult to maintain a balance between getting distracted from working and actually working. Hence timing yourself is extremely important. There's no way you can be available all through the night meeting deadlines. It is important to take a slightly longer lunch break and do something productive. Eat healthy and take good care of your immunity as it needs to be strong right now. Since you have worked all day, make sure your evenings are for yourself and the family.”
Jude Sannith, Senior Special Correspondent at CNBC-TV18
“The challenges are aplenty being a journalist. For starters, using your smartphone as camera instead of high-definition video cameras has been quite a task, especially when it comes to recording live links. Without a makeshift tripod, these challenges begin with trying to make do with whatever contraptions are available to balance the camera while recording your lines. Broadband speeds then end up either becoming your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how they choose to behave. You eventually end up becoming your own camera and live unit technician, ensuring that you get the best frames and that your links are sent across without too many hiccups.”
“On the positives though, working from home lets you take in the simpler pleasures of staying home. My bedroom has turned into a makeshift studio and study. And when there are no live links happening, I get to play DJ, picking songs from either VH1 or YouTube to play while I begin working on stories. It's also a great time to order pizza, catch up on the laundry and check out Netflix titles in between work. It's never a bad time to try new home workouts. And guess what? As long as your laptop and phone are handy, you're all set to stay on top of news.”
Nigel D’Souza Anchor and Associate Editor at CNBC-TV18, Mumbai
“My cheer girls at home included my mom and wife, and I think they were most pleased that I’m home so that they can pamper me. Sure, I enjoy it, but when you are offered a snack after a full breakfast then it gets a little touchy. Well, it wasn’t all hunky-dory as I realised how important it was to be tech-savvy and in simple terms, I was quite the ‘dinosaur’. After a decade of working from the studios the first couple of weeks working from home were unimaginable. But now it feels good, imagine the shortest ever commute from your home and the set-up barely takes a minute and then while I’m on ‘Power Breakfast’, I’m literally having breakfast. The best part is that while I’m working I get a big good morning hug and kiss from my biggest fan, my son Niev.”
Chandana Dutta, Associate Professor at Seth Soorajmull Jalan Girls’ College, Kolkata
“Rescheduling our routine both for work and household chores is a challenge as responsibilities on both fronts remain the same, but the physical boundaries have shrunk. Although it’s a treat to have the family together, the anxiety of an uncertain situation is a stress one can’t ignore. This situation has given me an opportunity to learn so many mundane things and at the same time has opened tiny windows in my mind to analyse and reflect on different emotional upheavals in an environment of turbulence. Personally, it’s a learning experience doing simple chores, exploring culinary skills and becoming tech-savvy. So, the lockdown for me is a curious mixture of simple delights and painful anxieties. But finally, today’s storms are tomorrow’s rainbows.”
Rashmi Jain, Process Engineer based in New Jersey, US
“It is now the 53rd day at home here in the US and work from home has become an unsaid norm. The first few days were tough and I really needed some discipline to get going with work. I miss meeting my colleagues though, but working from home is not that bad. The best part of it is one saves a lot of travel time. But being at home brings other distractions. I have now become the pseudo teacher to my eight-year-old daughter – helping her in schoolwork. The upside is that we now spend a lot of time together. She hasn’t stayed home for such a long time. Since I’m a working mother, I had to start keep her at daycare, since she was six months old.”
"Something that has changed in the last few weeks is that I am cooking more and trying new recipes. It kind of kills the monotony of being stuck at home all day. Both of us have gotten into the habit of exercising for half an hour every evening to get our muscles stretched. We sometimes go out cycling if the weather is good.”
Rupangshu Chatterjee, Planning Engineer-Civil, Kolkata
“As I’m a planning engineer for a construction company, my job requires me to plan ahead for material and resources. This has become impossible as there is no progress on the construction activities at different sites and the availability of labour and other material remain uncertain. Hence, instead we are working on estimating the cost of new potential projects. This again is difficult as the necessary drawings for these are being readied at a much slower pace. We have to work with what we've got and gathering data from previous projects we are estimating the cost which may not be very accurate.”
“Unlike many offices, ours does not mandate a log-in log-out time. So, there is no morning rush and the usual bustling roads are definitely not missed. The hard part though is the three-four hour conference calls. Another challenge is getting technical details conveyed over the phone which was fairly easy with the hard copies that we have in office. Moreover, graphic-intensive work takes much more time working on a system at home -- is has become more tedious and time-consuming. But, work gets done faster as there are no ‘water cooler moments’, which has now made me realise that eight hours of work at the office is not really required. There is anxiety related to pay cuts and timely disbursement of salary. But when it comes to work, we have to complete it to ensure, we get our salary.”
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