Lockdown - Work from home. What next?
March 2020, I remember waking up early, going to gym in the morning and leaving for office in the usual morning traffic, listening to my favorite music and sometimes shouting at traffic violators. All these used to happen by the time by which now I have my morning tea. So, the bigger thought which intrigued me was, "I am almost losing 3 hours of my life, every single day" That made me feel upset and stressed.
There is a drastic change in the lifestyle habits and routine since work from home culture started (of course health is primary concern, so probably this was warranted). But now, when I hear stories of my near and dear ones, I realize almost everyone is going through similar cycle of emotions for last 7-8 months since lockdown happened due to Covid-19 scare. While introspecting the whole set of events, I realized there are different phases I went through and probably a big percentage of working class people.
Let me try to explain it to you. For those, who understand a normal distribution curve, I feel the interest in work from home is following similar pattern. But, now we are at a stage where we started reflecting and introspecting what we have gone through for good or bad in last 8 months. If you observe carefully, we followed Maslow's hierarchy in a way.
Exploration & Adaptation: When lockdown happened suddenly, we just got worried about our family's health, securing rations, securing good data connections and making arrangements for work from home for sometime. By the time we settled, we probably got the news that this WFH is going to stay for some time.
Excitement & Benefit Realization: When we got to now, WFH is here to stay for some more time, we probably started feeling excited that, now at least we can spend quality time with our family, play with them, I won't have to travel in chaotic traffic, I can be a peace, strike a better work life balance.
The NEW NORMAL: Now, we started coming to terms with the so called NEW NORMAL, wherein, we didn't realize that we have been working for last almost 3 months from home and we didn't realize that there is not too much quality time we spent with family, haven't seen friends for months now, haven't had that stress busting cup of tea or coffee with colleagues. we started sending meeting invites for those chats which we used to have with our colleagues and get a few things sorted out over a cup of coffee. kids are crying in the background during meetings, parents are yelling for you to have lunch on time.
Stress & Introspection: Now, when we have matured with this new normal, we look back and think about our transition from Suited-Booted professional to pajama-tees professional, we realize the change has been immense. Surveys show that the stress levels have gone up, people have developed more sleeping disorders, line between professional and personal time doesn't exist any more.
What Next? Somehow, we have accepted the new normal, but we are still in a state of confusion and many probably are eagerly looking for reversal of this change. Yes, a lot has been gained, but a lot has been lost. Irrespective of companies deciding the new normal, we ourselves are in a state of confusion what do we want exactly, this in some people is leading to anxiety, uncertainty due to volatile environment around us. loss of interest even in their hobbies, frequent mood swings etc.
So, the bigger question we need to ask ourselves is knowing the pandemic situation, knowing that work is important, knowing that family is important and most of all understanding that we need to preserve our individuality and interest in life around us, ARE WE READY for the new normal to be the absolute normal?
Organizations have realized the benefits of employees working form home, people have realized the benefits as well. At the same time, it is apparent that every situation has certain pros-cons. We look at them based on our convenience.
My opinion is, for those who want to go back to pre-covid lifestyle, or for the people who embraced the new normal, in any case, this has to become a part of our professional evolution. We will need to UN-LEARN what we have learnt, create a new more effective routines for ourselves and then LEARN to live in a new working world. Find a corporate BABA in your circle and talk to him, talk to your friends and you see light everywhere in the tunnel not only at the end of tunnel
As we all have seen that change is the constant, In the best case of the worst case, over a period of time, companies, organizations may start falling back to the pre-covid ways of working and then again we will have to RE-LEARN in that would be new-normal.