5 lessons learned from one year of working from home during Covid-19
April 26, 2021 | Contributed by Monisa Nadeem
25th March, 2020 is a date that is etched in most of our minds, as we continue to complete a year with the concept of remote working. It was the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in India, and for those who never opted for work-from-home or were ever given a choice to do so, it became mandatory. Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet etc., became the new normal and face-to-face meetings something of the past.
I had joined Genesis Foundation, a year ago in the middle of the lockdown in April 2020. Obviously, I was happy because I was taking on the role of Content & Creative Lead, and the endless possibilities of growth made me excited.
I won’t lie, my first meeting with our small team of six made me equally nervous. I mean meeting your team in person and virtually are two very different experiences, but boy we all adapted better than I ever anticipated!From acing productivity to teamwork and collaboration to fun at work, as a team we all tried to ensure that we could all save as many little hearts as possible. As an NGO working for congenital heart disease, we were lucky that in July 2020, we supported the maximum number of children we have ever done in a month — 107 children!
From crossing milestones to dressing up in most mornings, and some ensuring that hair was made, face was washed, a nice top was worn, but yes PJS were the lower attire! Let’s not be ashamed of the reality, it has been a mixed bag as I’m sure we all take each day as it comes.
Here are some lessons I’ve learnt in the last one year of working from home, perhaps some will resonate with you – feel free to leave comments!
- No substitute for actual social interactions
As much as video calls are here to stay, turning the chair talking to someone, or eating lunch together or just that nod and smile in the office corridor, cannot be replaced. Going to Genesis Foundation office in the first week of April 2021 (even if it was just one day!!), was actually a reminder of how much I missed human interaction.
- Working towards work/life balance
Learning to draw a boundary between the two is an ongoing project, whether you belong to the category of those who are easily distracted, or those that are workaholics. For the ones that are easily distracted (like me), maintaining a to-do of priority work has really helped, (all thanks to Simran Sagar), whereas, maybe the workaholics could block time on their calendars for personal time, and see if it helps?
To ensure you don’t burn out, take some time out every day to enjoy whatever you like whether it’s just watching Netflix, or cooking, or baking, or gardening etc.
- A dedicated work-space
When the pandemic had started, working from the sofa, dining table or even the bed seemed lucrative, until the days turned into weeks, and weeks became months. I feel lucky to have had the chance to get a proper desk and chair setup for myself, like a lot of people did after the lockdown began. It simply helped to imitate an office working station, channelling productivity and energy. A lot of people who don’t have the space or the resources, I salute their spirit of concentration.
- Flexible schedules can work
As long as the set timelines are met and you’ve got the communication going, working on flexible schedules is possible. Whether it’s a trip to the vet, or the grocery store, keeping team members informed about your availability is the key.Since we are a small NGO working for congenital heart disease, with a small team Whatsapp groups became very effective in quick and easy communication.
- Celebrating personal lives
Remote working opened the doors into everyone’s personal lives as we worked from home. Whether it’s the occasional children talking into the mic during conference calls, or a parent hanging out in the background during a video call, or like in my case my parrot talking in the background, these little moments of our personal lives were shared with the team. In fact, even cooking expeditions for all the team members helped us connect with each other’s vivid personalities.
That said, it wasn’t easy to push myself every day because some days were super productive, whereas some nights felt far more productive to me. There were even days where I’d feel like I was banging my head against the wall because I couldn’t get out more than two sentences while trying to write something or others days where I felt I’d conquer the world (I know you all can relate to this one!)
But all in all, every child saved, despite the hardships this pandemic has thrown at us, motivates us to do better. While my own remote working schedule is still a work-in-progress, I’ve accepted that adjusting and adapting each day as it comes is important because I need to listen to my mind and body to achieve maximum productivity.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genesis Foundation)