As many in Thiruvananthapuram get familiar with working from home during the coronavirus lockdown, they talk about its pros and cons
In his 23-year-old career, R Jayaram, an Under Secretary with the General Administration Department, Government of Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram is working from home (WFH) for the very first time. He is not alone. Employees in different fields are experiencing what it is like to share their home with their workspace.
Until now WFH was considered a privilege that was available only to a few in the IT sector and a handful of others whose work allowed them the ‘luxury’ of choosing to work from home. However, since the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, people in the city have begun comparing notes about WFH. Opinions are as divided, even as a new work culture is being shaped.
While a colleague writes a verse in praise of “office is heaven”, there are others talking of the benefits of WFH. “In fact, many are following posts on social media that are giving out tips on how to efficiently work from home,” says Nipun Varma, offshore delivery manager with an MNC in Technopark.
Although some of them admit that they miss the coffee breaks, gossip and banter, many who are parents, especially those with school-going children or infants, are happy with the advantages. Since all schools, crèches, and day care centres have closed, the WFH has come as a boon for hard-pressed parents.
“My five-year-old son often knocks at my door since he knows I am around and even picks up some of the calls if I am not near my phone! But I am able to save the time driving from my home at Vattiyoorkavu to Technopark, 18 km away,” says Neethu Rajagopal, a systems analyst with an MNC.
For teachers like Remya Krishna, a CUEMATH teacher, it was all about adapting to a new system to ensure that her students did not miss out on their lessons. “My students are excited about doing digital workbooks on laptops or desktops. They finish the assignments faster than before and I am able to give realtime feedback as well. We have two classes of one-hour duration each every week and it is the younger kids who look forward to this than those in higher classes,” she says.
What does 46-year-old Jayaram think about it? “I handle a section where I have to verify several documents before preparing the final report. This takes at least an hour in certain cases. It becomes difficult to concentrate when you are in office because of the inflow ofvisitors, meetings or outdoor work, whereas there is nobody to disturb me at home,” saysJayaram.
WFH? Not a fan
A Central government employee in an R&D organisation, however, feels that virtual meetings and online classes for engineering students are not the same as face-to-face interactions and working from office.
Techie Priya Sankar, who has worked from home in the US, points out that things can be stressful as the team is not working at the same place. “Work-related interactions and discussions happen over phone or chats and it is time-consuming. I find that I end up taking more time to finish my work,” she says.
Entrepreneur Minu Mary Mathew has been working from home ever since she quit her job in the retail industry five years ago. She gives a few pointers on how to make the arrangement work.
* Maintain a morning routine.
* Dress like you would go to work and be presentable on your video calls.
* Get a work spot at home and don’t snuggle up on the bed or the couch.
* Speak to your family about work time and break time. Take breaks and get exercise.
* Stay hydrated and air out rooms and windows to feel fresh.
* Catch up with colleagues on video calls to stay connected and informed.
* Since you save time you’d otherwise spend on commuting to work, utilise that by enrolling for online courses and workshops, or engage in a hobby/art project.
Ayyappan Nair, scientist with a company in the United States, started working from home nearly four years ago. “I have never worked from home before that and it was difficult for me to adjust in the beginning. But it changed my life. In my case I am free during the day and that’s when I involve myself in hobbies and outdoor activities. Before the lockdown was announced, I used to go cycling. I get my calls between 6 pm and 4 am and they are not random calls but those that have been planned a week in advance.
* The most important tip for anyone working from home is that one has to be disciplined, both in your work and lifestyle.
* Watch out for distractions when you are with family.
* Avoid the temptation to snack or watch television.
* Interact more with your family and community in your leisure time. Follow your passion or hobby, if possible.
* Since you don’t commute to office, make use of that time to exercise. That will make life better.
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