The above picture was my first post in the past 3 years on Facebook. I couldn’t help but do this – its aspirational, humorous and talks to each one of us. People called me and said they were worried about me while reading the first paragraph. Some people unfriended me (I don’t know why), and others still joined in on the laughter.
I wish I were all the above – but I am not. As an executive in today’s topsy-turvy world, I was learning to cope up with the new order of work, and here is a compilation of a few things I learned during these times of complete #Lockdown and WFH.
1. #WorkFromHome is nothing new: Stay at home partners and Working folks alike – especially those who haven’t got supporting partners and are the ones who are doing all the work at home as well as sometimes at the office too – they have mastered this art. They have been doing Google Hangout calls and Whatsapp meetings for a long long time. Its now, that the world has woken up to realities of WFH and its significance.
I salute such people. Work from home is more work than Working from Office. I am sure that ALL of you will agree. If you don’t – you better be looking over your shoulder buddy! My days used to start at 9.30 AM at office – and end by 7.00 PM odd. I honestly miss them. Nowadays I start my day at 8.15 AM on an average and end it by 7.30 PM. The week goes by before I can say “Chloroquine”. Success of client acquisition seems to now be in close competition with the number of conflicting web meetings & demos! It’s just crazy. It’s like everyone has suddenly woken up and realized that a VC can get the work done.
That’s a representation of my week
2. It takes time to get productive in this new work environment: It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of WFH. The right place, the right chair, kids running circles around me and more. But once settled – we took off. We have taken out 4 new initiatives to the market (working remotely), gotten 3 different strategies executed across different areas & geographies of the business, changed the product construct, caught with my complete team across India every single day, added over 34 clients to our pool & got on two partners. It’s not just me! Here are the results of a poll that was run by a great marketeer and the results are for you to see:
Hat tip: @KevinWilliamDavid
3. Tools maketh work doable: Clearly, we humans are gregarious creatures. Social creatures. We want to interact and see other humans. Here is what all I used and how it worked for me:
a. VC tools:
i. Zoom: For large & seamless meetings. Love their grid view, where I can see everyone, and everyone else can see everyone else. I know you will say that is not safe, etc. but neither are the others, and I, for one am not discussing state secrets on the call. Its good. BTW: Zoom is also great when you want to have a ‘web party’ with really large social distancing! Cheers.
ii. MS Teams: For quick and effective discussions. Surprisingly good. I would always think of MS Teams video and voice communication as patchy and not up to the mark. We integrated Teams into Zippi and the speed with which we can now get onto multi people conversations with screen share etc enabled and absolutely flawless sound – its amazing. The negative is the limitation of large groups, and the view. Am sure they will work on it.
iii. Whatsapp: I have done video calls on Whatsapp for a VERY VERY long time. Just goes to show that specialization is important & the business world is moving away from WhatsApp.
b. Communication & Collaboration:
i. Zippi: This might seem like a plug (Zippi is a PeopleStrong product) but trust me – it isn’t. The amount of stuff that gets done thanks to Zippi for me on a daily basis is just absurd. Managing tasks, Setting up quick task groups, Voice and Video calling through MS Teams, Learning on the go, Writing a mail, Get reminded about what’s pending, Monitor your & your teams performance from there itself, Polls, sharing documents, giving appreciations, companywide announcements and much much more. With the number of new features being rolled out every second day – Sometimes I think I need a product training every 2 days. Our entire company runs on this – and with absolute efficiency. Looking at the success and based on feedback from others – we even made this free for 3 months.
ii. WhatsApp: WhatsApp continues the same way. It seems to have become more of a verbose forwarding tool nowadays than anything very meaningful.
4. We can always find time to learn ONE new skill while doing our daily work: I get done by 7.30pm. I start exercising at 7.40 – and end by 8.40. Dinner and then spend time with the family. I have also found the time over the weekends to bake bread, make spaghetti, make mozzarella cheese, make my own sourdough, as well as sun-dried tomatoes. My final objective is to be able to make a completely ‘homegrown pizza’. Soon.
5. Family time can go beyond the dinner table: We started engaging together with the Gita, and I must tell you this – if you have young kids, it’s very difficult to keep their questions straight. Even harder to explain it to them in a manner that sticks to their brain. That and organizing home ‘Nerf’ gun battles with the kids by making the drawing-room into a battle-zone have been great. The amount of quality time I have been able to spend with them during this time is amazing. I suspect part of it is in the fact that even THEY don’t seem to tire, but I am not complaining.
So, we all are talking about the 2020 reset (there are Youtube channels dedicated to this right now). I hope it happens. I hope that WFH becomes the new normal. Let the world breathe. Let us have more time. Let us get more done over video & other forms of communication. Let new business models emerge. Let’s emerge better together.