Are we happier in COVID times?
Maybe it’s true for some of us!
We are not really missing much on Cinema visits, fancy Restaurant outings, our shopping sprees, or sporting events. I remember getting crazy about not finding new episodes of my favorite shows appear on Netflix or Hotstar in the beginning. However, I ended up exploring a number of new titles in their collections. And also got a chance to revisit Ramayana (an epic Indian series from the 80s).
The skies are clearer. The rivers have never felt more pristine in decades. Ganga has rejuvenated beyond recognition and none of this is due to Government efforts. People are able to see Himalayan mountains from far away places like never before in 50 years.
There used to be peer pressure about traveling to exotic places. As nobody is going anywhere, the peer pressure is definitely off. For some of us who used to love being at home, it’s been a great time. Maybe it’s not that great for the devoted travelers.
The best thing to have happened for those who are working from home is the saving of travel time. Some of my team members used to travel 4 hours daily between home and office. The last couple of months have been a utopia for them. They feel much better going to work (in their home office) these days. My own travel time didn’t use to be much. But I am definitely not missing the cacophony of the Indian roads or risk of a road accident.
Productivity in our organization has actually been quite high. There was a time not long ago when we used to frown upon work from home as a general policy. But when it was forced upon us, it turned out to be way better than expected. Not everyone has a good home office setup. A good chair, table, and maybe HD monitors are some things people do miss while working from home. Yet, most people feel that they have been more productive during lockdown than before.
My calendar is definitely more organized these days. Earlier, in office, there used to be so many walk-in meetings. The main conference hall was right beside my cabin, so people would just pull me in when needed. Now, I make it a point to add all my meetings in my calendar and ensure that there are no conflicts. I have also noticed that people are always on time in their Skype or Zoom calls. In the old times, for meetings, being late by a few minutes was normal.
Several people moved back to their faraway home towns before lockdown began in India. A strong Internet connection is probably the only thing that they are missing as broadband is still not widely available in India. It’s probably the first time since they started their careers that they have had the opportunity to stay with their family for months. Sometimes people feel that they miss office but then being with family overcompensates for it.
I personally found more time to explore a number of new things. I spent time learning about financial markets and started building my own stock portfolio after extensive studies and due diligence. I learned about making good screencasts using tools like QuickTime and iMovie. We ended up creating a nice walkthrough video for one of our new offerings in collaboration with our marketing team. I also learned a little bit about epidemiology and contributed to the creation of an India specific COVID tracker.
There is a constant shadow of COVID all around us. People are definitely worried about losing their jobs or pay cuts. There is a risk of getting infected from unknown sources anytime anywhere. People on the front lines are facing enormous challenges and are putting their lives on the line so that the rest of us can survive through this nightmare. However, there are so many good things that have happened to us thanks to COVID which we might not have imagined in our so-called normal lives of the pre-COVID era. It does feel good to experience them and be thankful in a weird way that we are able to experience them as long as it lasts.