Month: March 2020

Day 2 of Quarantine

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Day 2 of Quarantine passed very similar to the first.

The working day kicked off with a video call to connect with colleagues over a cup of coffee (fruits in my case). This was a welcome step taken by the workplace to enable colleagues who would usually be working from the same office to connect in an informal set-up.

One of the challenges, when one is in quarantine, is to draw a line between work and personal time. We tend to end up spending more time than is healthy in front of our computers. It is important to recognise this and take breaks from time to time. Get up from your desk, walk around, do some household chores, and then come back to whatever you were working on.

Yesterday, one of the residents of our apartment complex took the initiative to organise a virtual quiz. The topic of the quiz was Bollywood. It was very interesting and great fun, albeit it got over too quickly! I am not a Bollywood expert by any stretch – in fact, my knowledge of contemporary Bollywood is extremely poor. But the quiz did have some questions that were familiar to me and I was delighted to rank 4th (out of 13 participants)!

 

 

Day 1 of Quarantine

macbook pro iphone cup desk
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Yesterday was the first day of the 21-day lockdown of the country.

From a work perspective, there was no impact or change in my usual schedule as I have been working remotely (from home or a co-working space) for 18 months now. My wife is also working from home these days. We are still adapting to both of us remotely working, but thankfully, there have been no major issues so far.

This would have been the last working week of this academic year for my children. They have been at home for a couple of weeks now, and they too seem to have understood and adapted to the situation well.

Our domestic help are also away and rightfully so. In a way, it feels like we are back living in Ireland, where we had to manage the entire house ourselves without the luxury of domestic help that’s available in India. I have started cooking a bit more these days (will post about it separately). We (wife and I) also spent last night sweeping and mopping the floors. Our house has a dishwasher, so the pressure on washing dishes is a bit less. Not that either of us mind that particular task too much!

There was no time for any entertainment yesterday, though my son did play a CD. Hearing good reviews of ‘Special Ops’ on Hotstar, might try and watch an episode of that in the next couple of days…

How’s lockdown treating you wherever you are?

Maintain ‘physical distance’, not ‘social distance’

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By now, most of us must be familiar with the term ‘social distancing’. However, late last week, officials of the WHO (World Health Organisation) suggested that we use the word ‘physical distancing‘ rather than ‘social distancing’.

I completely agree with this. The COVID-19 pandemic is taking many of us into chartered territories. News reports today suggested that 1 in 5 of the global population is in some form of ‘lock-down’. People all over the world have been advised to stay at home as much as possible. Many states in India, where I live, have imposed curfew-like conditions.

These are undoubtedly stressful times. And it is precisely at times like these that we need to reach out and connect (virtually) with fellow humans. ‘Social distancing’ implied moving away from others, both physically and socially. But what is required is actually maintaining physical distance while connecting socially over appropriate channels.

I had a couple of ‘virtual’ family get-togethers over the weekend. It was the first time we were doing so. And it was a great success. Participation was 100% in one group and close to 100% in the other. There was some confusion initially on how to structure the conversations. But we quickly arrived at some semblance of order and the conversations started flowing. For sure, it was not quite the same as getting together in a common area, but I was pleasantly surprised at how close to a physical get-together the experience was.

The other option is of course to call a friend or family member. We tend to forget connecting with friends and family regularly during normal times (and I am especially guilty of this). But these are not normal times. So yes, we should all try to call and speak with one more person daily than we might otherwise have.

All reports suggest that we might have to continue in this near lock-down like situation for a few more weeks. Maintain ‘social connections’ while keeping a ‘physical distance’ might just be the way to hold on to some degree of normalcy in these trying times.

 

Monday Reads – 23/03

We are still in the early stages of what Prof. Scott Galloway has called ‘Our Generation’s Biggest Test‘. I wish and hope that the overall impact can be controlled and that this passes by with as minimal as impact as we can hope to expect. However, many analysts believe we have already seen enough to know that this is going to be, quite possibly, a bigger crisis than the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. A few articles on these topics:

Our Generation’s Test – This article from Prof. Scott Galloway is aimed at an America audience. But I believe it applied to most nations. “Aim to be the daughter, boss, manager, dad, government employee who is action-oriented, organized, and disciplined during this crisis. You’ll be one of the people, calm under pressure, whose actions helped beat back this American generation’s biggest test.”

The Damage Across Business – Wall Street Journal’s take on how the new Coronavirus pandemic is likely to impact key industry sectors.

What will the world look like when the music starts again? – A thought-provoking take on what the future might look like when this pandemic is behind us, by my friend Surbhee Grover.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Google Ads Results – Wordstream are the first, I believe, to analyse the impact of this pandemic on an important element of Digital Marketing, Google Search Ads. They have some good insights across 21 industries. And, in my opinion, this is just the beginning (unfortunately).

Take care, stay safe, maintain physical distancing and personal discipline. This too shall pass.

Notes while Working From Home

I have said it before, but am going to say it again. These are unprecedented times. Most parts of the world have come to a standstill. People who can, are working from homes. Most businesses have, at best, adopted a wait and watch approach and, at worst, are preparing for a recession. Students are in a limbo. My young children have had their final exams cancelled. Schools have taken an early break for summer. When they reopen in June, my kids would go directly to the next grade. Most people are staying at home. High profile global sports events are getting rescheduled, if not cancelled. Most places where people gather socially are closed. I do not believe we have experienced such a situation in a peace-time scenario.

A lot of small businesses are going to experience very difficult times, especially in sectors that rely on people engaging in social activities, entertainment and travel.

It’s not a pretty picture and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Having said that, I feel that there are some positives that might yet emerge from this situation.

First, as some memes floating around attest to, we are giving a bit of respite to our planet. Less people traveling, consuming and wasting resources will absolutely give a breathing space to our planet and nature some time and space to recover. We are already reading stories about wildlife returning to the city of Venice. There has been a fall in air pollution and CO2 levels. The drop in vehicular traffic and other business activities has also led to a much-appreciated decrease in noise pollution where I live.

Directives to maintain personal hygiene are everywhere. These are actions that we should have been doing anyway. Hopefully these good habits will stay with us even after this crisis passes (and it will pass).

There are other aspects to this issue that will need to be discussed and debated once we are past the peak of this crisis. One of these is Sustainable Tourism. I believe that travel is a wonderful experience and that all of us should travel regularly, for pleasure. But there are costs associated with this increasing travel. This article touches upon these points very well.

Another aspect could be Remote Work. This crisis has forced many companies to adopt Remote working policies. Would these continue after the situation eases out?

A more controversial issue relates to Food Habits. We have been seeing increased interest in vegetarian and vegan food over the past few years. Will this crisis hasten the rate of adoption of meat-less / plant-based food?

Now is not the time to debate these topics. What is required is a concerted effort to curb the spread of the disease. All of us need to take responsibility for tackling this outbreak. Listen to the authorities, trust that they are doing the best they can. Avoid spreading rumours and act responsibly. I thought this was a wonderful speech by the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. Please take a few minutes to listen or read.

Stay safe, everyone. This will soon pass. And we will come out of it stronger.