The (HR) professional in me may debate on the effectiveness of the Work from home set-up, but the 18 years old boy that left his home about 14 years ago and post that got to visit it sporadically for short periods, lesser than many guests, has nothing but all his support and gratitude for this scheme of things.
When I had first left this city, I was of course sad and home-sick for months. While I am all for the spirit of exploring new places and people, it was more than just missing your parents and family. I remember often researching and feeling disappointed at the state of distribution of development across Indian cities. With most of the good jobs only located in 5-6 cities in a country of more than 700 districts, I wondered how most of people of my generation and professional camaraderie would end up settling down in one of these cities. Apart from causing a tremendous imbalance of population and practically unbearable load on the infrastructure of these cities, I also felt it would lead to a terrible loss of the culture and uniqueness of people and their folklores, especially for the next generation which would all have grown up in one of those almost identical flats and would have barely known the cultural flavours of their hometowns – the small towns, which I doubted if they would even be able to call home! For the last 7 years of my professional life, I have lived that life – and loved it no doubt. The glamour & charm of everything that these metros have to offer is also something that I wouldn’t have missed for anything, but is not something which isn’t replaceable or reproducible. And I daresay, a lot of the tier 2 cities are also fast catching up on it.
Then came the doom inducing pandemic – and amidst all the misery, mayhem and loss brought on by it, it also perhaps reconnected many people like me to their homes, courtesy the Work from home set-up! Needless to say, this is the longest that I have stayed at my home, in this city after leaving it more than a decade ago. It is a sad irony that it took this tragic event for us to stay in our homes without compromising on our careers. This time period of last one and half years has not only disrupted in a major way the way how we work but has also reset in motion many a beautiful memories of past. A piece of childhood thrown around at every corner of the city; the lush green views and large open spaces to call your own and walk around; the familiar faces of neighbours, colony kids and even the next door shopkeepers growing old with us; occasional visit to/from cousins and relatives at ease post work; actually having all the meals together with family, and at times joined by extended family; roaming around the city with a sense of belonging and ownership at the same time the pride of ‘having made it’; all these are what else but the happiness boosters for the country boy in me and productivity boosters for the professional in me.
There are times when I do miss the charms of the big bad city, so if I were to say that I would never want to go back to that life- that’d not be true. But why should we have to choose? And if we had to, why should there be the only 2 extremes for choices? To use a clichéd term- the way ahead has to be (wishful thinking!) defined by flexibility and distributive development- the flexibility to not let location of an individual be a constraint in his or her dreams and actualization of aspirations; and the distribution of development across the country to create opportunities. While the former has to be led mainly by the organization and latter by governments; both are extremely intertwined and follow each other. While this is mostly being seen as an interruption before things go back to normalcy as we defined earlier- it should ideally be seen as a watershed moment in the ways of working of global.inc and especially India where we haven’t really been great in terms of workplace flexibility. There are tremendous possibilities of where we go from here other than the extremes of remote work or on site jobs now that we have data to validate efficacy of what works worse, at par or better from a specific location and with teams that are close to each other physically. Most of them would have drastic impact on the supporting eco-systems – housing, retail, transport, hospitality and entertainment. But most of them would be much awaited and for an eventual better future, the one where we wouldn’t have to spend hours in our cars, stuck in traffic.
Here is hoping that a year from now, when the world is vaccinated and has moved past the fear of the virus, we wouldn’t have to wait for 6 months to be at our homes for 2 days! The change has just begun, hopefully!