Micro Life killing Macro Lives-COVID-19
It is more than 100 days into virus-induced lockdown, and most of the IT folks are working from home. It was not so long ago, it was a luxury. Companies that were rolling out 1 day a week or compulsory work from home measures were the object of envy. Employees who were working in client projects which were into the critical domain, could not afford to be WFH due to confidentiality reasons. But COVID-19, the tiny virus changed all of that, client or company laptops or even desktops were rolled out in record footing. Companies made sure to courier the desktops into employee homes, some rolled out internet charges. There were news of small companies rolling out rolling chair expenses, and biggies opting for flat reimbursement to get the chair, and desk. Unlucky employees had to foot the expenses on their own. What has changed in the minds of employees in this WFH set-up?
Employees now long for WFO:
All of them want to work from the office now. With more disturbance at home and long hours, all of the employees want to log in from the office. Office luxury of free coffee, chat sessions, lunch breaks in the canteen, and team camaraderie activities are sorely missed. People working in older teams who have already established team synergies and rapport continue to leverage that during this lockdown. But people entering into new teams, adjusting with the colleagues, and setting the order seems to be a challenge. Everyone longs for the office corridors and ID swipe beeps.
News articles of no productivity loss and increased gains from companies were doing the rounds, during the start of the lockdown. Yes, they are true, and due to the initial happiness of home-work. Employees longing for at homework, enjoyed the days, luxury of no travel, homemade food, being amidst the family during these extraordinary times. With zero travel time, that has conveniently morphed into more time at work rather than relaxation at home. With no outdoor activities like malls, or movie halls to spend time, people are happy to work during these hours rather than relaxing stressful. Reports suggest there is no differentiation between lunch breaks and office time, and lunch break is eating into office time. Average hours are more than 11–12 in some cases, with more employees complaining of burnout. All the employees continue to pile hours, due to recession fears, and lockdown induced turmoil.
No Dress Policy:
We had strict draconian dress code policies, some mandating blazer as part of the dress. Some had a no-jeans policy and no round neck t-shirt as well. Employees continued to follow these policies and any deviation was arrested right at the security gate. Things started to change, jeans was allowed, and so were t-shirts. With new generation workforce entering the industry, all these measured helped to attract and retain them. With corona being the new normal, all employees are working from home. Almost all of them are resorting to comfortable wear, with most throwing off formals for eternity. Video meetings are being mandated to make sure employees continue to adhere to norms during meetings, and during those times, decent wear is needed. Decent wear can just be the upper portion, with most males resorting to shorts.
Power bills :
Electricity does not give you shocks, but their bills do, especially now in India. With many of them posting their bills, work from home has increased its manifold. Employees were used to working in an air-conditioned environment, and applying the same at home would cost a bomb. With free beverages available all the time, now it is time to pester our mother or wife for the same. With the whole family in lockdown, all of them have to be glued to entertainment and news, and it is very difficult to focus at work. Continued lockdown working, increases snack consumption, power consumption and stress consumption.
Mental Health at roller coaster:
All of the people in the world are traumatized due to the disease. Some childless couples are reporting good news, on the other hand, domestic violence cases are spiking up as well. Aged people who are used to visit temples during weekend or having their morning walk routines disturbed. The only people who do not experience a difference are introverts who were already staying at home. Kids are unable to attend classes and forced to learn in online mode and no games played. Parents have an enormous responsibility to engage the kids for learning and entertainment. All of these are taking a toll on mental health of people. Constant negatives news, fake Whatsapp messages, lockdown fears, recessionary economy, job losses, corona fatalities, essential prices spiking, and unavailability of veggies all help in the same. Employees are at constant threat of being furloughed, reduced salary, and involuntary attrition. Technologies are being made obsolete at a faster rate in this slowdown and AI is ruling the roost.
Every time I go to the supermarket, I see stocked veggie shelves and full drinks racks. The only empty rack is that of snacks. Snack companies are reporting huge orders, potato chips are a rarity at shelves. Consumers buy in bulk and frequently as well. The snack budget has ballooned like our waist. With no physical activity, all of them are gaining weight for our own bad. Unable to visit hospitals for their usual checkups, all of them are opting for home remedies and outdated prescriptions. Most of the hospitals are restraining other patients due to fear of the virus. Dialysis, Cancer patients seem to be the worst affected. Blood donation camps are topsy turvy with most donors at home.
Rise and Rise of Online Deliveries:
I was an online delivery warrior champion even when they allowed to roam outside. It was so convenient and quick. Most of them opted for the super delivery options and ordering almost daily. People working during night shift, and an office, were exhausting the food delivery coupons within 5–6 days. First is the urge to order, which is immediate, then is the selection of the dish and the joint. Then you apply necessary coupons, with any special requests. Once the click is made, happens the eternal wait for the food. You literally GPS locate the order, imagine the traffic and routes, and call the persons once they are near. Most of them are experts, who stop at your house gate, but some of them need shepherding instructions. Now the same process repeats but with added precaution of getting it in a bag, with a mask, washing your hands, and throwing away the delivery bag. Groceries, medicine, all are being ordered online due to the scare. Firms are running at peak capacity to serve the population. Eating and shopping are never going to be the same again.
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