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May 8, 2020

Working from Home: A Day in the Life in Mumbai, India

3
Minute Read

Working from home is not new to me. I worked from home for three years, and I cherished that period of my professional and personal life. Yet this time around, working from home has been a drastically different experience.

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Dispatch from Mohan Datar, Head of Operations in India

Working from home is not new to me. After working for 40 long years without interruption, I decided to withdraw a little and work from home. The decision was prompted by two desires: to be able to choose what I do and how I do it, and to be able to control my work-life balance. 

I worked from home for three years, and I cherished that period of my life. It was professionally satisfying as I was able to add value to every task I decided to take on. It was also the best period with respect to my family life. So it was a win-win for all.

My building's lobby entrance

A Different Experience

Yet this time around, working from home has been a drastically different experience. Firstly, it is unplanned and forced by circumstances. Secondly, I am not the sole person in the organization who is working from home. Currently, the entire organization is working from home. 

Not only have all of my coworkers suddenly begun working from home, but the severe countrywide lockdown here in India means no support services. There are no home deliveries, no maids, no entertainment (all popular TV shows have run out of their episodes and no new f filming is taking place), and all theatres, pubs restaurants are closed.

Additionally, there is a large-scale fear factor of catching the COVID-19 virus at any time. The end result is that work from home life is severely more challenging than in the past.

My work from home station

A Typical Day

My typical day begins by going down the building’s gate to collect milk. The next hour is spent making tea, reading e-papers, checking emails, WhatsApp, and chat messages. Then I spend another hour exercising with yoga and pranayama. 

My building's gate

I live with my 35-year-old daughter. According to our agreement on the division of labour, I prepare breakfast and she cooks the meals. All preparational and consumption activities are generally preceded and followed by the cleaning of utensils. Also, I am responsible for sweeping and mopping while she does all errands which require going out of the house. Then I shower and get ready for work. That means I can hope to start my professional work around 12 PM. 

Virtual Meetings

The nature and manner of work from home has also changed drastically. Prior to mandatory work from home, everyone used to decide what and how much work they did at their home versus their office. Now there is no choice. Everyone has to do 100% of their professional work exclusively from home.

Much of my time is spent in various meetings. There are meetings at the local level with India resources during the day, and then meetings late into the evening with top management in the U.S. We now have daily meetings between 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM Mondays through Thursdays. Additionally, there is at least one meeting at 9:00 AM with Jags, our CEO, and one with Guiliano from Brazil at 6:30 PM every week. 

Aside from increased meetings, there are a variety of other additional challenges. Forced work from home means that I now have to handle administrative and HR tasks via chats and hangout meetings. Since this new remote mode is suddenly forced upon us all, the quality of infrastructure available with each resource is different. So most of these meetings happen with only audio on. The video is mostly off.

The view from my desk

The Future of Remote Work

Another important addition to the daily routine is announcements and invites of numerous webinars. They have been adding knowledge and are also providing guidance on future trends. 

For example, yesterday, I attended a webinar by the Association of Chambers of Commerce, India on Cyber Risk and Mitigation. Now everyone is sure that even post-pandemic, a large number of IT professionals will continue working from home. The discussion focused on what are the possible security risks and mitigation strategies in that scenario. Thus, not a day goes by without learning something new.

However, I eagerly look forward to the day when this forced work from home mode will end.

About the Author

Mohan is a professional consultant with expertise in enterprise architecture, application software development, IT strategy consulting, IT governance and security. He brings 35+ years of experience in fields such as eGovernment, electricity generation and distribution, banking, insurance, and hospitality.

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