Lockdown Lessons: “Pre-empt situations and be well prepared for the future”
The year 2020 has taught us several harsh lessons. Barely had we entered a new year with renewed hopes and expectations, when the global COVID-19 pandemic jolted all of us out of our comfortable ‘Normal’ zone and flung us into an uncertain world. Terms like lockdown, social distancing, quarantine, work from home, new normal, unprecedented times and the dreaded ‘R’ word – Recession – have become a part and parcel of our daily lives.
India is just emerging out of an over two-month lockdown – a period that has changed our lives, behaviours and the way we conduct business forever. The lessons that we have learnt during the lockdown period and our experiences during the year so far, will help us navigate a world that we had never imagined. Adgully’s latest endeavour – Lockdown Lessons – is an attempt to present the key learnings that India’s business honchos have learnt and imbibed, and which can help the industry navigate the new normal better.
Richa Singh, Managing Director, Natural Diamond Council, tells Adgully how she has been managing her professional and home life during the lockdown period, what she has been missing during this period, as well as the several upsides of working from home.
What are the key lockdown lessons as a professional during the lockdown period?
The lockdown made us plan our day with the same tasks differently. As the team was not sitting together at our office and we were used to speaking and understanding each other’s views real time on every task, it was a challenge to isolate ourselves and still make things happen. Planning the day became most important at work. The 2 minutes of corridor conversation that we take for granted are being severely missed. But as the days have progressed, we have become more organised and we have checklists for each team member.
We have become more organised and have started to schedule team catch ups every day. Speaking with the team each day on Zoom calls has definitely become a new normal. These calls have become enriching as we brainstorm ideas and way forward strategies. We also share insights into the sector and consumer as behaviour and consumption patterns change in the lockdown. It is of utmost importance to enhance knowledge, upskill and keep yourself abreast of current trends as this will help when we return to our seats when the situation normalises. We want to ensure that we come back with a brighter sparkle in the Natural Diamond industry.
Please tell us some of the key takeaways in terms of life lessons from the lockdown period?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought families closer as we spend more times with our closest ones. Taking breaks from work and making sure I complete at a particular time each day keeps me going. We have revisited simpler times, picnics in the living room, bedrooms become camping grounds, game nights, movie nights. Can’t pretend that content and gadgets don’t play a big role, but it has been a great balance so far. The conversations with parents and kids are longer – we have no place to be. And we have fun, but also have meltdowns. I keep saying that we have a love-hate relationship between us, depending on the time of day. We have realised the importance to keeping our loved ones close to us and thus, video calls with friends, virtual happy hours and online games are the new party-time.
What I feel is that we might wait for the lockdown to end and things to get back to normal, but this time with family and friends, these conversations are rare and precious moments which we will cherish. There will come a time when we say to each other “you remember that instance during the lockdown” and smile.
How did you manage and achieve work-life balance while working from home?
The downside is that the time between work and life has blurred, so the real challenge is to keep a balance. As we work from home, we have to make a conscious effort to shut down our work at a specific time each day. The days have changed too, coffee breaks have changed to kitchen checks. Conventional norms of being a working mother have been rehashed for this situation. Taking breaks from work and spending time with my children in between calls is the way I make sure homework has been completed and food eaten. The kids have been very resilient about the situation and by now they realise when Mom is “zoomed” out and needs a breather. As a family, we all stretch ourselves to the maximum capacity and step in as and when required so as to keep the wheels of the household in motion.
It has been more three months since the lockdown was enforced. How are you gearing up for back to office mode?
As of now, we are unsure of when we will get back to working from our office. We will wait for the situation to get better and then take a collective call to do so. Though when we resume office, we will make sure we adhere to all the government regulations laid down for corporates and maintain complete safety while working together.
Any lessons that you picked up in financial management from the lockdown period?
A very critical lesson which the lockdown has taught us is to pre-empt situations and be well prepared for the future. Having some savings and money kept aside in the kitty for rainy days always helps personally and professionally. Work towards Plan A with full sincerity, but don’t forget that Plan B will be your saviour when things don’t go as planned. Plan B will help tackle the surprises life and a dynamic working environment throws at you.