The Professional Services team at Verticurl is a motivated lot. And not just at work. They believe in striking the right balance in their lives. The PS team shared their thriving secrets with Thrive Global India as the lockdown progresses and work from home becomes the new norm.
Incorporate well-being in your life even in troubled times
For Sonia Veerapaulraj “a fresh mind and a healthy body means well-being”, so, besides proper diet, right workout, and hydration, she pays attention to ergonomics. “Ensuring proper posture while working is an important aspect each one of us should follow,” she says citing the downside of a work from home situation.
Like most of us, Jerome Justin ES has been stressed out “living under the shadow of a pandemic for over 60 days” but has found solace in: “daily meditation for at least an hour, organised work hours, spending quality time with family and regular virtual connection with friends.”
Besides exercise, music and solving puzzles to reduce lockdown stress and anxiety, Latha Jayakumar finds motivation in friends and family. Her colleague Leslie A George is a firm believer in digital detox and ensures that he steps away from the laptop as soon as the workday is completed.
While Prabhu likes to spend time with family, or workout, sometimes catching up on good movies and old photos on weekends, Parveen H has a dual mantra—”Be active (not just in by exercising but also trying to be involved in household chores) and connect with people. Social distancing is different from social isolation. We do many things to stay connected with our friends and family even if we cannot see them in person. SMS, phone calls or video calls are great ways to keep in touch. Set aside some time each day to catch up with an old friend or relative and enquire about their wellness, help them for their needs if possible, and stay connected.”
N Ravikumar engages in all the activities that make him happy. “Now I have got more time to spend with my family and these happy moments give an additional power to overcome these troubled times.”
Work from home mantra
Parveen feels motivation comes from appreciation. “The key item which makes my team thrive during this pandemic period is motivation and rewards. We motivate each other’s work more often and send them rewards as appreciation,” he says. Also make sure to give the team members space and allow them to work independently “rather than asking a report for every 10 minutes acting as a micromanager”.
“Understanding each other’s compromises and limitations while connecting from home and if possible, to step ahead to resolve the issues the team faces during WFH” makes this arrangement work according to Veerapaulraj.
She feels connected to the team even though remote work has become a way of life thanks to “daily catch-up calls, regular meetings, online discussions in case of any process change or clarification. This makes us feel together nearby forgetting the distant space, thus connecting the team just like before.”
The wfh model resonates well with Subiqsa as she gets “plenty of time to spend with family”. Her team’s keenness to complete tasks and make on-time delivery means “regular communication via video conferencing and daily huddle calls”. The conversation is not limited to official matters though. “We also conduct games through video, make Tik Tok videos and collage them” for fun, she adds. Sharing credit and team building activities maintain the spirit of togetherness, agrees Parveen.
Working remotely means “enough time to be productive and focus more on work,” according to Jayakumar as it takes away distractions and unnecessary time spent on travel and such like. “We can sort things quickly over Skype leaving more time for actual production.”
How to tackle challenges
Whether it is the thin line between work and personal life or motivation, working from home poses hurdles, just like on site work does too. What Veerapaulraj has been missing the most is the “ease to connect with my teammates from the same bay, which has increased the time spent on connecting via calls or meeting invites since the internet connection is intermittent at times.” The other hurdle is that with everyone home during lockdown, “sitting with family is not easy for attending meetings or important official calls”. She solved this by setting up a workspace at home “and isolating myself during work hours”. These aside, “work from home model is just an office away from office.”
“It is critical to establish boundaries between work and personal life,” agrees Parveen and adds, “Being a working woman and a mother of a one-year-old staying with family, it is really very difficult to manage work and personal life. The Microstep I took to manage was setting up a separate workspace, and informed the family members about the work hours and pressure which I face if I play along with them.”
Multitasking, says Ravikumar, is a very big challenge during the pandemic. “I make a plan before I start my work and allocate/share the tasks with my teammates and put extra efforts in completing the tasks on time.”
Feelings of isolation is the other challenge plaguing Parveen and the team. “Our solution was having video calls and chats often and staying in touch with each other.”
Like the others, Jayakumar dislikes the inability to switch off, slacking on self care and the dearth of facilities such as proper cabinets, seating and work atmosphere at home but has tackled it with “time management and routine and connecting over video calls to work as a virtual team”.
Finding reasons to Thrive
Having something other than work as your go-to solution to relax is more essential today. For Veerapaulraj these are gardening (“It is a mind relaxing work for me. Inhaling fresh air makes me feel fresh and active”), cooking (“It is a true pleasure to treat ourselves and family with self-made tasty dishes) and communication (“ This pandemic has really brought the long-forgotten friends and relatives very close via Skype and Zoom calls, thus making us understand that we are all together in this and forever).
The extra time meant Justin “had more time to spend with my newborn baby and witness all her growth progress”. He also “connected with friends from around the globe and brushed up all the good old memories.” Then there were revivals of childhood games and exploring hidden talents in cooking, playing music and more.
The lockdown allowed time for crafting and art for Subiqsha. “I have resumed my passion for crafting and drawing on weekends and it gives me more pleasure when I am doing something I love, plus it is getting appreciated!” And she is learning a new language. “I started learning Hindi (spoken and written). We have so many applications to learn from and such learnings might help us in the future.” Her passion for gardening has also been fuelled.
Ravikumar Thrives with Yoga, meditation, music, art and family. George enjoys reading and music. “I read everyday, lockdown or no lockdown. I work with my kids on some small projects which helps them get away from TV and cartoons and improves their imagination and creativity.”
Jayakumar has learnt the value of sleep and “how our brain and body react to irregular sleep patterns”, balanced diet and exercise. Spending time with family members has made this time special for Prabhu, as have no travel needs and late wake-up time.
For Parveen, “Social distancing has decreased my emotional distancing. I am able to spend a lot more time with my family especially with my one-year-old cute little princess. I feel this period was a special gift by god to me to enjoy all milestones of my angel.” The other boons are “No to fast food, no to late lunches and time for culinary experiments.” She also makes sure to “move my body a little extra which in turn helps to reduce stress and elevate my mood.”
Lessons from the pandemic
Parveen is more confident now “that physical location will not be a determining factor for our teamwork. It will not be a barrier to our success.” On the personal front, she is now conscious that “we must follow all the words and rules that our forefathers designed which definitely has some reason behind it. Also, I realised that for the first time in human history, this invisible and ubiquitous virus has taught us a lesson that whatever power humans may have, it could not help us vanquish every being of this world.”
Veerapaulraj agrees: “Our ancestors’ advice to take turmeric/ginger tea, wash hands and legs while entering home, greet each other minus handshakes had more scientific backing and I feel happy that it has been revived and we should pass on this knowledge to our children too. Most importantly, the lesson learnt in this crisis is the oneness of the world. The earth is for everyone, be gentle to all. Not just humans, but to other living species too.”
Prabhu adds in agreement, “Nothing is stable. We need to co-operate to achieve anything with positive thoughts,” he says.
Jayakumar has several takeaways: Effective time management while working from home, appreciating the efforts of the company that “has our back always”, surviving with only basics, avoiding unnecessary shopping and the value of money besides quality time with family.
Subiqsha realised that “digital environment and technologies won’t be defeated by any natural crisis. COVID-19 pandemic also taught us the importance of healthy lifestyle and working efficiently from home.”
Justin has found a new reason to “value life, The blessings we have around us and the responsibilities we have towards the family and the society.”
The Sermon on the Mount from the Bible resonates with George in this regard.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]? … 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
“Another thing that comes to my mind,” says George, “is the song in the Jungle Book cartoon, The Bare Necessities: The bare necessities are all that we need.”