The future of work, about three months ago, was something that is going to happen. Not in the now. But sometime later; something that we as professionals, managers and leaders were going to lay the red carpet for, announcing its grand entry to a thunderous round of applause.
Come March 2020 and out fell the first candidate of future of work. Hastily from its orbit without the much planned statuesque welcome that the motley earthlings were getting themselves ready for. An unintended consequence that rolled in from the orbit of the future of work. Only this time we weren’t clapping. We took it under our arm and plonked it either on the kitchen countertop or the coffee table, and if lucky, the dining table. And if ordained for a more fortunate destination, it found its way on an Ikea study table and if luckier, a shiny wooden study or a spanking workstation. That ladies and gentlemen, was the first casual(ty) entry of future of work, say hello to WFH.
COVID-19 has (en)forced organisations to bite the bullet and make work happen. At home. Pre-COVID-19, some organisations were fascinated by it, others practising it, another researching its pros and cons. Social distancing, stay at home hammered in and overnight companies swallowed their tentativeness and ‘zoom’ed their way into the homes of its employees.
A positive progression that organisations have evolved to this stage of remote working is what Anuprita Bhomick makes of WFH. Working with remote teams and sometimes into the dark of night, Anuprita, a seasoned WFH professional, understands that not everyone is able to manage working from home especially with the lack of infrastructure, designated workspace and mental readiness. Understanding and support is her way to ease such professionals into the WFH mode.
Severing the discourse of WFH into two parts, Prachi Panda queries what works and what doesn’t. For the parts that work, can they be carried forward to influence change, post-COVID-19? What learnings can be filtered for the post-COVID-19 work culture? And for the part that doesn’t work, she patiently asks, what can you do to make it work for you? For those in her tribe of friends, family and colleagues who grapple with it, she wears the hat of a coach, gently cajoling them into understanding and appreciating the benefits and reality of WFH.
For Krusha Sahajwani Malkani, compassion of a different kind creeps in. That of her inability to access the needy to donate food and books to her favoured charity, during the lockdown. Fully aware that resources are the need of the hour, now more than ever before, she hands out her share of contribution through other channels. In the meanwhile, she is waiting for the grey clouds of uncertainty to blow over.
Deepa Sonam’s concerns are vastly different. With India in lockdown and businesses on an ebb, ensuring a continuous and steady pipeline of work is necessary to honour salary commitments. During this time, her primary focus is her people.
Support, empathy, appreciation. This is Priya Khanna’s troika of ammunition for helping friends, family and colleagues, both personally and at work, in the COVID-19 environment.
Heather Saville Gupta opens her vault of coaching services for those who need it. She has rallied a group of 25 trained coaches who are offering this service to support professionals during these challenging times.
Rachele Focardi believes that sometimes in life, the biggest blessings come in in very weird form and shape; often things seem very negative on the surface. Of the pandemic, she says that these unprecedented times are going to bring a lot of really good changes.
Where nations are not volleying one another, but an almost alien species for which science is unable to decipher an antidote, which fight has had such a universal impact, humbling all of humankind? COVID-19 has unified cultures, countries and people, rallying them together, answers Zarina Stanford. It has reunited the people of the world together with solidarity that defies any terror. With candles and claps. With hymns and hope. With song and spirit.
Can we fight the virus through positivity? Yes, because immunity is the greatest antidote and positivity is the biggest ingredient for immunity-building.
(This is the last of a series of reflections by this author on the Coronavirus lockdown)