Lockdown Lessons: Stay Connected, Stay Organised, Stay Focused: Khyati Shah
India is emerging out of an over two-month long 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. It has been a trying time for many of us, with everyone working from home and having to adapt to a new way of working and living. 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.
In conversation with Adgully, Khyati Shah, SVP, Corporate Marketing, Kinara Capital, speaks about her key lessons from the lockdown period and how all the old adages that she had heard from her mother ring true, especially in these times.
What are the key lockdown lessons as a professional during the lockdown period?
My top three key lockdown lessons while working from home are to keep finding ways to Stay Connected, Stay Organised, and Stay Focused. You have to stay organised, especially as marketers. We tend to have competing priorities and deadlines needing our attention on a daily basis. When in the office, it is easier to walk over to a colleague’s desk or huddle for a quick brainstorming session. In Work from Home mode, every interaction had to be scheduled. At home, I set up a separate workspace and took 20-minutes every morning to write down my day’s priorities before mentally switching over to starting my workday. This helped a lot to stay focused even while the physical space stayed the same. I also set up daily stand-ups with my team so as to maintain momentum on projects and give them dedicated time to discuss anything they want to talk about because there is a lot of general stress that everyone is facing on a daily basis when living thru a pandemic. There are coworkers I might have seen otherwise around the office, but as we don’t work on the same projects, there were no casual interactions taking place. Reaching out to colleagues to check on them was a good way to stay connected. It is important to offer support and make yourself available to others, not just when you are working together.
Please tell us some of the key takeaways in terms of life lessons from the lockdown period?
Suddenly, all the old adages that I have heard from my mother ring true! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Eat to live, and not live to eat. Early to bed and early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. The almost non-discriminatory nature of Covid-19 pandemic has made us all realise our priorities – just how little we actually need to live well and the importance of good people and positive experiences in our lives. In recent times, many of us have benefited from living upwardly mobile, urban lifestyles at a time when technology and globalisation were making our worlds even more integrated and accessible, so we are used to pretty much getting what we want when we want it. Suddenly, we had to live with curfews, limited supplies and not being able to socialise or travel the way we are used to moving around. Socialising the way we could earlier with having people over for dinner or going to restaurants and gatherings is missing in our lives right now, but on the flipside, it is rare that an event can simultaneously affect everyone. This has prompted more people to reach out to one another. I have reconnected with many family members and friends across the world, some people I have not seen in a long time! The borderless nature of this pandemic has let many people forget any past grievances and embrace one another realising the future together can only be made better with more kindness and compassion towards each other in this world.
How did you manage and achieve work-life balance while working from home?
The first thing I did was to set up a dedicated workspace to create a separate ‘office’ in the home so that I could work without interruptions. Though our work doesn’t always allow us to stick to a 9-5 schedule, it is important to step away at the designated time when possible and maintain a routine. I stuck to the same routine as much as possible by taking the time in the morning to dress up for work and take scheduled breaks for lunch and dinner. This routine goes a long way in keeping you balanced even if you are in the same physical space.
Sundays were definitely no-tech days for me to give me time to catch up on house projects or other creative pursuits such as baking, cooking and crafts making. Access to online shopping has meant buying some new things I haven’t worked with earlier for home hobbies. I have started making a range of candles and body lotions so that has taken a life of its own as I like to experiment with new textures and fragrances.
It has been more than two months since the lockdown was enforced. How are you gearing up for back to office mode?
We reopened our offices in June with new rules around social distancing, daily temperature checks and use of mandatory masks. We are all getting used to this being the new normal for some time to come and people are getting very creative with their mask designs. Being in the office again has been wonderful to see colleagues after so much time. There was a lot of video call fatigue, so it has helped to see people in 3D mode again and take a much-needed break from being limited to only video interactions. We are fortunate as there is a lot of space in our offices to spread out and mostly everyone around us in Bangalore is being mindful about following rules that will help us all collectively stay safe.
Any lessons that you picked up in financial management from the lockdown period?
As for lessons learned, this pandemic has shown us that there is no one reliable way to invest or protect yourself financially, one has to diversify and once again, the old adage of buying gold for a rainy day rings true at a time like this. Being in lockdown has automatically cut down on traveling and social spending, so I have diverted those additional funds to help those in need right now, and increased my donations to some of my favourite charities, especially to Animal Aid India and Akshaya Patra. It is important to extend a helping hand to others anytime you have the flexibility to do so and make a difference.