WFH. When I first heard of this acronym, I went WTF – never imagining that one day I’d actually be restricted to ‘Working From Home’ like much of the world around me. Man is a creature of habit and we’re so accustomed to commuting to a workplace, doing a 9-5, holding endless meetings over endless cups of tea or coffee, that the very notion of WFH seemed ridiculous.
One scoffed and made light of it (surely you mean chill at home and not work from home!) That is, until an invisible micro-organism brought mankind to its knees and shut down the wheels of commerce and industry - not to mention my workplace.
Novel (no pun intended) as it is, WFH did teach me a few things.
No, I don’t mean washing my hands with soap and water to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday To You’ sung twice. Here goes.
1. Technology has enabled productivity beyond the four walls of the office. Not that this is an epiphany but doing a Video Conference is so much simpler and easier than ever before. From Microsoft Teams to Google Hangouts, BlueJeans to Skype – it’s all possible with a laptop and a high-speed net connection. What WFH has achieved is that it’s changed our mindset towards embracing this tech. ‘Doing a VC’ might have been an exception earlier, but one feels it won’t be anymore. In short, I don’t think I’ll be flying to Mumbai or Dubai anytime soon to present that campaign. And it’ll help reduce my carbon footprint too.
2. Peace and quiet. Unless you’ve a bawling baby or a teen armed with a drum-set in the house, WFH can be surprisingly peaceful. Nobody barging into your room at all times with all sorts of requests. Nobody following up for a meeting. Or a chat. Or a coffee/cigarette break. Nobody playing loud music (it happens in an agency). No distractions except an occasional doorbell. Nothing. Nada.
3. Daylight savings. In other words, WFH saves one truckloads of time. You can now get ready at 9:25 for a 9:30 meeting. Because working from home has killed the dreaded commute – no more jostling for space with strangers in the Metro or haggling with the auto driver or cursing at the guy who bumped your car in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
4. The human touch. No man is an island, and the feeling of staying homebound can also lead to the sense of being disconnected. It’s the vibing, laughing, talking, chatting, sniping, joking, ridiculing, romancing, brainstorming we do face-to-face in the real world, that makes life and specially agency-life worthwhile.
Hopefully this will soon be in our past, and we shall be raising a toast surrounded by family and friends. Also, we would have become wiser to the upside of WFH and find the best balance between real and virtual workspaces.
(The author is creative-head, McCann South)