The second wave of Covid-19 has further blurred the boundaries between work and life. Motivational talks, self-help books, productivity improvement methods etc. seemed to work for a few months. But what next? While the uncertainty looms, and we continue to work tirelessly from our homes, it is time to ask ourselves the difficult question – are we protected?
The second wave came like a tsunami and has taken us deeper into the ocean of blurred work boundaries. Video conference fatigue has engulfed us and the creative ones are making digital proxies to attend meetings and the not so creative ones have been reduced to asking, “Is there a recording?
A lazy morning, Arnav was finding it very difficult to get out of bed. He wondered what day of the week it was and heaved a sigh of relief when his cell phone display showed him that it was Sunday. “Of course, it’s gotta be Sunday,” he thought for he had no remembrance as to when was the last weekend. The weeks seemed to get longer and the weekend was as far away as the end of the pandemic! By the way, on normal days, he would continue being in bed, pull his phone over and attend the first few early calls while still relaxing in bed.
Of course, no calls today but his ‘To-Do list’ kept revolving in his head and it just didn’t seem to end. He was still half asleep and images of colleagues ran through his mind, with voice call out – “Am I audible?”, “You are on mute if you are talking, We can’t hear you” – and as these faded away into the background, in big font, the bold and centerstage came the words – “Are you protected?”
Many of you exactly know what is coming up next – no prizes for guessing – an email from our insurance service provider giving us a plethora of options to cover all employees from an insurance standpoint.
That is when Arnav thought to himself and almost asked in a rhetorical manner, “Yeah! Am I protected?”
Oh yes, a base policy, so many top-ups and a buffet of insurance add-ons to choose from! What more could he have possibly asked for? But was he or should he make it more inclusive and say, “Were we preparing and equipping ourselves for the worst eventuality almost being certain that it would happen?”
Of course, the rational mind quickly jutted in to say, “Of course not! You keep pushing yourself to go for a walk on a regular basis, for the last one year you have been eating home food”, and the devil sitting in the corner smiled and chuckled, “Oh yea, binge-watching for hours, eating home junk food and yea all the excuses for making time to go for a walk, tell me about it”.
While the two of them continued their conversation, Arnav was puzzled – “If you have an amazing Plan A – why does anyone need a Plan B? If I commit to my body that I will treat it as my temple, ensure no junk enters it, respect it with full dignity, do I even need all these top-up insurance plans – I am just 30?”
Then he began evaluating what is within his control and what isn’t.
He can easily pay a couple of thousands and have the peace of mind that he has these top-ups, should anything happen, he has adequate medical coverage in a country like India where medical treatment is so expensive, of course, we have heard of how some people had to sell their homes to pay ICU bills.
On the other hand, he decided to dig deeper and said what are the potential avenues that possibly could get me sick. The first that topped the charts was this work and life boundaries blurring to such an extent that lead to so much stress. While this is a no brainer, he thought that he had almost cracked the code. Arnav stood in front of the mirror and gave himself a good look from head to toe. He looked much older than the class reunion photograph of last year that smiled at him from the wall. While his girlfriend often joked that work from home is so convenient for him that he doesn’t have to shower and shave every day, he wondered if it was giving him any respite at all! He had the habit of loading his platter with so much work that he didn’t find time to look at the breakfast platter his mom had so fondly spread for him. Quite often breakfast was consumed at lunchtime and lunch blended into dinner and he almost forgot what dinner was. While he was always around for his parents, he also noticed the anxiety on their faces as they saw him fuming and fretting during work calls. His mother was worried stiff when she found a stray tear drying on his check when he wrapped up a meeting with his boss.
Lockdown or unlock, work is happening. The world has decided to move on leaving mankind behind. We were waiting for the age of the robots at work. Little did we know that many of us are getting transformed into lifeless zombies. Motivational talks, self-help books, productivity improvement methods etc. seemed to work for a few months. All of us began to accept the inevitable and started to breathe easy a little bit when the unlock started. The second wave came like a tsunami and has taken us deeper into the ocean of blurred work boundaries. Video conference fatigue has engulfed us and the creative ones are making digital proxies to attend meetings and the not so creative ones have been reduced to asking, “Is there a recording?”.
“The second wave came like a tsunami and has taken us deeper into the ocean of blurred work boundaries. Video conference fatigue has engulfed us and the creative ones are making digital proxies to attend meetings and the not so creative ones have been reduced to asking, “Is there a recording?”.”
How many more alarms do we need? How many signals will we ignore? How many times did we feel burnout in the last year and what did we do about it?
As we prodded, we realized that it is not much. A lot of what we did was like a band-aid on a wound without really curing it. Ouch! It hurts!!
And Arnav asked himself, “Do I feel protected or am I really protected?”
The answer is never easy, but it is always visible right in front of us – it’s just that many times we choose to ignore. Are you taking notice or choosing to ignore it?