The shrill morning alarm broke the early morning silence of Malini’s bedroom. As usual, Malini sat up with a jolt, her head racing through the errands she needed to finish before she headed for the office. It was a minute before she realized that she had quit her 9-5 hectic routine and opted for “ work from home”- an option that apparently promised the best of both worlds and would finally help her strike that ever evasive – work-life-balance. “I can afford to laze around for another 40 mins or so”, thought Malini to herself. And thus began the unravelling of a productive day falling apart like a pack of cards.
Day 1: Lesson Learnt – Home is not a “Do Not Disturb” zone
11:00 am:- Lazily munching on a chocolate chip cookie, she opened her laptop, thinking that she’ll be done with the office presentation, in no time. After all, this was her home, her zero disturbance zone.
Fast forward to 2:30 pm, having answered three phone calls from relatives and friends (they couldn’t be politely declined, because Malini was not in office) , five doorbells from the laundry guy, the water guy, the maids and the security guard, Malini had not ventured past the title slide of her presentation. And it was already time for Ravish to be back from school. Once he was back, he demanded his mother’s full attention because … you guessed it right – Malini was at home. And thus, by the end of the day, the presentation lay unfinished. It was ok. It wasn’t due until Thursday, and it was just Monday.
Day 2: Lesson learnt- Work from home does not equate to less work
9:00 am:-Having learnt her lesson from yesterday, Malini decided to follow the office routine. She diligently sat with her laptop on the study table. Instructed the building staff over the intercom, not to disturb her for the next 3 hours, told the maid to attend to phone calls if any, and tell them that Malini was not at home.
2:00 pm:- Malini managed to finish 60% of her ppt. She planned to take a break, spend a couple of hours with her 10-year-old and get back to the unfinished job by 4 pm when Ravish would go to the park.
6:00 pm:- The 4 pm-6 pm window hadn’t proved as productive as Malini had anticipated. She hadn’t been in the right frame of mind to work. Not surprising, though, considering she had spent the previous couple of hours entertaining her energetic fifth-grader. And now, it was time to attend to the evening household routine. “Never mind” muttered Malini to herself –“I’ll do this post dinner.”
8:30 pm-Soon it was dinner time, and Malini found herself reviewing the presentation at 10:30 pm. Determined to finish the first draft, she kept at it till midnight when sleep prevailed, and she had to reluctantly click the “shut down” button.
The questions that puzzled her as she stifled a yawn were “Where did my free time go? How come I was working the whole day today? How did the boundary between home and office get blurred?”
Day 3: Home alone, working on your own spells disaster for your social skills and your work
Malini managed to finish her presentation and proceeded to review the speaker notes. She had always been an introvert. It was Ramona, her colleague and friend who had helped her polish her speaking skills by providing interesting anecdotes, amusing quotes and guiding her on how to engage the audience.
How Malini missed coffee time with Ramona. Sitting on the wooden floor in her sloppy pyjamas, she didn’t feel a wee bit confident about facing her prospective clients tomorrow. She yearned for the stimulating company of a fellow professional. She craved social interaction to put her in an upbeat mood, she missed the energy of the go-getters working around her, their sense of purpose, the infection energy of the dreams that drove them to push harder.
Day 4: Lesson learnt –Home is the breeding ground for “The exhausting, exasperating excuses: The dog ate up my work; I misplaced my folder; coffee spilled on my papers…”
8:00 am:- Malini was in a better mood today, Manish, her husband, had come to her rescue. He had taken her out to a café last evening and had invited some friends to join them for dinner. He had given her the much-needed pep talk and she was ready to face the client, in fact, she was feeling confident that she would clinch the deal.
10:30 am:- Skype on, Malini set her laptop for the video conference, ready to face the Korean CEO. Halfway through the presentation, just when she thought she was inching towards success, a loud clank disturbed the sanctity of her sacred home/work space i.e. her apartment. Out came Parul bai from the kitchen, wildly gesticulating with her hands, mumbling loudly in incomprehensible Bengali. Blissfully unmindful of the befuddled expressions on her mistress’s and the Korean CEO’s face, she proceeded to explain the mystery behind all the ruckus- The dropping of the flour filled drum!!
90 anxious minutes later: – Needless to say, the conference proved to be an utter disaster. Malini’s eyes welled up with tears of disappointment. She found herself craving for two blessed hours of strictly professional work environment far removed from the influence of Parul bai’s of the world and their kitchen conundrums (pun intended)
Day 5: Lesson learnt – Boredom gets you, throttles your creativity and plummets your productivity to the lowest ebb imaginable
10:30 am:– The past five days had been the worst work wise. This had adversely affected Malini’s self-confidence, and she had seriously started doubting her decision of working out of her home. Lack of company left her bored and uninspired. Monotony of staying put at the same premises killed her creativity. How could she be productive in this state of mind? She shut down her laptop with an exasperated sigh. Today was the day for introspection- to devise a solution to this dilemma. 9-5 was out of the question. Snarling traffic jams ensured 9-5 became 8-8. Work from home had proved to be disastrous at multiple levels. What next then?
The solution: Malini opened her Macbook with a glint in her eyes. Resolutely, she typed Greater Kailash (Delhi) in the Kowrk.com search window to look for coworking space around her. The results brought a grin on her face! Now she had an array of upbeat coworking joints within 10-20 minutes distance at her disposal. The best part, she could use them as per her need, an hour or two or six; it was her choice. They promised organic meals and were frequented by freelancers like her.
So on Monday morning, Malini collected her notebook and laptop, revved up the engine of her Jazz and drove to her newfound ideal work environment, confident of getting the best output for the day.