Silently Working Remotely

“It’s quiet for the most parts”

Self-image by author

I just sat down at my home work station.

But I have hovered over the station twice already.

No, it was not a deliberate effort to check emails first thing in the morning.

My work station is just 5–6 feet away from my sleeping bed. Therefore, my ‘hovering’ was simply me booting up, checking my half-cooked emails from late yesterday, with a big lukewarm glass of water in hand.

No urgent emails to respond to, no client calls scheduled. Okay, cool.

I changed laptops to move to my personal laptop. To write this blog.

Had it been the ‘normal’ (let’s call it older) times, these three activities would have been disbursed across my home, office and an evening cafe parlour. But because I am boxed up in my home, all these places have been deliberately carved in my mind palace while sitting at the same chair.

I can’t seem to find an answer to — where am I now?

Probably on my highway to a creative, progressive, energy breakdown.

The days keep raking up

Let me share how my life goes on currently. I bet, 90% of you can relate.

I wake up, get through my daily routine in around 2 hours, sit at my work station till late evening, ‘rise’ to just wrap up my evening routine, before finally going to bed.

At times, it is intermixed with an hour of physical workout or a long walk with my father, but come winters all these have come to a screeching halt.

Let it sink in for a moment.

Just think of it. Multiply this routine for at least x250 times and you have my full year 2020.

Except, that this still continues.

My work? Funny you asked

In the day job, I’m a business consultant. Therefore my job does not necessarily involve going out in the field and meeting people. At least not anymore.

But it doesn’t mean, I am not ‘meeting’ people. I still work with and manage a considerably big team, take meetings across 5 time zones and to top it up, I brainstorm solutions virtually on digital inboards. Yes, the digital inkpads help.

Apart from regular work, I attend to a few personal ventures.

I write frequently (here on Medium and other places) and manage a photography page (which I’m quite passionate about). There are a few other things as well, but those are sort of secondary.

When you combine all these ‘different’ workstreams and expect a normal functioning human like me, to work on these every single day, x250 times, in the same environment

you get nothing but a highly confused, slightly demotivated individual trying to manage the little puppet show called life!

Photo by Sagar Dani on Unsplash

How’s it deep down, Shagun?

Honestly, it’s quite silent for the most part.

During the start of this virtual model, I tried everything to keep it together. I was trying to achieve goals set in normal times, in the ‘stranger than truth’ times. It was an honest attempt. Slowly but surely, the futility of it all dawned upon me.

When my parents were talking to me I felt disconnected in the moment. It was strange. How could it happen?

Through time I realised, how do you convince your body coming out of a meeting with client director, talking about the new Go to Market strategies, to suddenly start talking about the ongoing maintenance work at your house!

It’s challenging. For the mind, and for the body.

Silence sits beside you for over +12 hours every day, working with you on all things planned for the day.

I am currently bunked in the countryside, therefore not many souls honking on roads too. The occasional video calls with friends, relatives is a filler but it just is. It’s good, but it’s like camphor. Lights out as rapidly as it lights up. Not much heat, not much light. Just a spark in the heavy silence.

It’s not depressing. At least for the most parts.

It’s fine, probably because I’ve gotten used to it now, or probably because I was an introvert to begin with.

Although the silence initiates a multitude of conversations with my own mind. It scratches the surface of over-thinking. Most of the mental wellbeing exercises recommended these days, is basically to curb this inherent quality of humans.

We talk. It’s a fact. Either with others. Or with ourselves.

It’s normally a mix of two, but the pandemic pushed us to the extreme latter. It was further exacerbated by our only mediums of communication — Phone or Video call. Both of which are not the best modes of communication for few.

Personally, I’m not bad at virtual calls. But it is not sustainable for me. It takes a lot of energy out of me. I like to live in the moment, and therefore phone as a medium works ‘anti’ to the way I function.

Yes, of course, there are bright sides

I spent almost a year with my family.

The last time I spent a year with them was in 2012. Over time, I’ve become more empathetic and I’m now able to understand my parents, their opinions, their priorities much better.

I self-reflected. Over the edge at times!

When lockdown came, most of us stopped momentarily in this big fiasco of life and took time to self reflect. Where are we headed? For what are we hustling?

With minimal things to distract us, and us running away, trying to cover our ears from the 24/7 Covid news, somewhere we started hearing ourselves in the silence.

We realised that what we have is sufficient. Or short by a shy from it.

We don’t really need as much as we think we do. In fact, the distinction of need and want became more clear. It did for me.

At work, simply carrying on the jobs we were doing, in spite of all the different roles we were playing at home, looked like an achievement. No place for fancy upskilling and target meets. (Bless those, who still had to deal with it)

In conclusion, a sci-fi Holly/Bollywood movie?

Can’t disagree.

A gloomy, silent, people-fighting-back sort of a story — is what I would describe my 2020 to be. It’s not over yet, so don’t know where we go from here, but the sun appears to be nearby.

Come 2021, I want to get out, get back at the killing machine world because let’s face it -

In absence of any collective hustle, order, for how long can we keep smiling in our virtual meetings over complete background silence?

(Shivers down my spine writing the last line; it does feel lonely at times!)

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Business consultant. Doesn’t publish daily, writes daily. Reads and writes on philosophy, society, business, science | Published in The Ascent

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