Work From Home made me realise human interaction is overrated

Many are complaining about not having a choice but to work from home as if going to office was ever a matter of choice.

 |  5-minute read |   23-03-2020
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When natural disasters strike places, what follows are sights of people scrambling to find survivors buried under debris or trying to retrieve bodies. The novel coronavirus outbreak is perhaps the first where every building, every house, every monument is intact. It’s the people who are missing.

As governments enforce lockdowns in state after state, people are locking themselves up in their houses – many with their families, many with their flatmates, and many alone. None of these are easy because none of these are products of choice. But choice is a funny word. Many are complaining about not having a choice but to work from home as if going to office was ever a matter of choice.

My own ‘end of choice’ moment came on March 17 when I was told to work from home. I am not too much of a people’s person - or so I thought. As I left office that day, I just looked around at the newsroom with a slight whisper to myself, “See you all on the other side of life.”

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Work from home wasn’t the only matter in which the choices had run out. I knew this isolation means nothing if I still ask the cook to come in. Everyone can cook to save their lives. But there is a difference between saving your life and living it. I am experiencing the difference in this isolation period, having to eat what I can cook.

For people who stay alone, domestic helps come to occupy a very important role in their lives. Sometimes, they are your only human contact with the world. There are those lazy or sick weekends when you don’t (can’t) venture out and she offers the only human contact you have. When human contact, however, is the biggest threat to your existence, you got to cut it off. You then get to chopping vegetables, washing dishes and brooming and mopping your house.

None of this I am doing for the first time. Years ago, when I started work life in Delhi, I used to. Over time, I had just lost touch. For now, it feels therapeutic to get back to household chores. Washed dishes and clean floors offer calmness and a sense of satisfaction.

The only problem is I am not on a break, but working from home. So, 'Work From Home' in the times of corona is basically doing office work and household chores together.

Home offers comfort. The same can’t be said about your home laptop or desktop. No matter how many problems your office desktops present, they all pale ahead of the pain a home laptop has to offer. Work slows down. You open four tabs and there you have it – a system that goes into hanging mode. You restart. You do that several times over because, well, what’s the choice you have?

These are teething troubles. Some may even call it first world problems. I guess, coronavirus is also a first-world disease, flown in into countries by the rich and affluent. A disease which is so highly contagious, it now threatens all worlds cohabitating the world. The disease, in India (also Europe and the US), first struck those who could travel abroad.

Now, everyone is confined.

For me, it is Day 6 of self-isolation. In terms of human interaction, I am not missing much. People who I want to talk to are a phone call away. Hugs and handshakes, though I miss them, are still months away.

My aged parents back home in Lucknow are worried for me just as I am worried for them. But it’s been like that for years. We worry about our loved ones no matter where we are. Coronavirus notwithstanding.

The fact that working from home is a possibility in my profession during this lockdown period is great because it would be difficult to kill days without end if there was no work. And the weekend felt like a weekend because I wasn’t doing office work for most part of the day but things that I would do on a usual off day, minus stepping out and chilling with friends or having them over.

When all of this ends, we will have to extend a special vote of thanks to OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar for helping us stay at home. And then there are books.

We have been told books are your best friends. If you want to test that friend, now is the time.

I have divided my time for work, cooking, books and OTT. So far, it’s working fine. The fact that I could stay alone over weekends in the past too, perhaps, prepared me better to deal with this.

But it is just Day 6. I don’t know how I will react to a longer period of home alone without people. It will be an interesting test to undergo for self-discovery. As scientists try to find out more about this virus, we can, perhaps, use the time to get to know more about ourselves. Look within, a lot of people are saying.

They say, when life gives you lemons, take out the salt and the shot glasses and fill them up with tequila. Non-drinkers are advised lemonade. But liquor vends are shut in most places and liquor is not really liquor if you have no one to say cheers to. For now, people have work from home. They have converted it into a funkier, cooler sounding WFH.

When we come out on the roads and head back to offices when all of this is behind us, a lot would have changed. It’s changing each day at a time within us.

PS: If there is one thing I really miss right now, it is the gym. Self-disciplining to excersie at home hasn't worked for me so far.

Also read: Winning the war against coronavirus... from home

Writer

Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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