A lot of people are mistaking WFH for WTF. And why not. Till coronavirus hit the world the phrase ‘working from home’ was a tongue in cheek, wink-wink, nudge-nudge term for doing exactly the opposite. ‘Working’ from home, for senior management, meant lazing about in pajamas and making an occasional call to make sure everyone else was working while the senior manager caught up with the latest season of Money Heist.
What a difference a virus has made!
Now we all wear a crisp, ironed shirt, comb our hair neatly, sit in front of our laptops and eagerly connect on Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams. And surprisingly we are getting a lot done. So what if our bottom halves are clad in pajamas and bathroom slippers.
To be honest I was extremely skeptical of this whole WFH thing. I believed that people wouldn’t take to it at all. That they would miss the discipline and routine of office. That without bosses breathing down their necks they would goof off. And that the ‘human connect’ so important in our line of work would be totally missing.
On the contrary.
In the two weeks and a bit that I have been incarcerated at home I have seen so many things.
I have seen people come together as never before.
I have seen meetings being run punctually, efficiently and quickly.
And most important, productively.
I have seen no loss in the quality of work that is being produced. Indeed some of it has even improved.
I have seen creativity flourish across the industry.
I have seen a sense of camaraderie and a feeling of ‘we’re all in this together.’
And while everyone is aware of the harsh impact this pandemic will have on the economy, I have seen and felt a collective sense of optimism and positivity that this too shall pass.
And the real changes, I believe, will be seen after it passes.
I think the Covid crisis has changed the world forever.
The way we work will change. Now that we have seen that video calling leads to no decrease in efficiency I think this way of working is here to stay. It will save us hours in commute time to client offices, and millions in fuel and time costs.
The phrase ‘working from home’ will no longer lead to nudges and winks and will be seen as a perfectly valid way of functioning.
And even more than changing ways of functioning, the virus has had a deep impact on the psyches of people around the world. Staying for such an extended period at home has made us realise the importance of family. We have realised the ultimate futility of the blind rat race that a lot of us are in. Staying at home has given us a perspective on the larger things in life.
Covid will ultimately leave. And it will leave us wounded but wiser. Meanwhile let us look forward to meeting face to face again. Let us look forward to hugging our friends and colleagues. Let us look forward to a few drinks at a crowded pub in the evening.
Me? I’m even looking forward to traffic jams.
(The author is CCO and MD, Publicis Worldwide India.)