What You Really Mean When You Say “I’m Working from Home Today”

Working from home is the Holy Grail of corporate life. It’s like the time teacher told you to “read” something for homework. It meant that there was no homework. It’s basically a holiday that hasn’t been explicitly declared as such.

Just like a chutti, there is a sense of wonder associated with working from home. For starters, you can magically create time in the morning. On an ideal work day, you invest at least an hour in commuting, courtesy our amazing roads and the people on them. But when you work from home, you get to do in bed what you otherwise have to do at work – sleep.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not the sort of person who advocates slacking off.  Which is why it is important to follow a routine and have the discipline to stick with it. It is very important to set the mood within the first few hours of the morning, by replying to every mail within 10 seconds (by adding people to the email thread, of course). An impression must be created that you are on top of things and just because you’re working from home, there won’t be any loss in productivity. You must be so proactive that your boss wishes you worked from home every single day.

See, it is a lot like studying. You always feel you can do it at a later time and it will all work out, but it never does. Unlike office, you have no one to disturb you at home so you can finish four hours of work in 30 minutes. Colleagues aren’t around to drag you for a sutta break every seven minutes, there are no coffee breaks, and you don’t have to waste an hour having lunch. These thoughts are immediately followed by, “My Netflix queue is getting really long and I can quickly get the work done later; what could go wrong?”
You start binge-watching shows like Shah Rukh chain-smokes. Just like bunking tuitions to smoke cigarettes with friends before a paper, you promise yourself this is going to be the last one. Sadly, that moment never arrives. After a few hours of constantly staring at the screen, you realise you need a break and it is time to get some sleep.
This is the trickiest part of working from home: sleeping in the afternoon but making sure that your boss doesn’t find out. God bless the technology that allows you to do that, as you turn off the sleep mode on your laptop, set your status as “Busy” on the office messenger, and take a powernap that will last four hours.
If you get a call from your boss or colleague while you were asleep, responding to it requires a lot of tact. You can’t just pick up a call in the middle of your nap and try to sound like you weren’t catching some Zs. The call must be avoided; time to wash your face and get your voice in order before you call back. Put your skills from that one theatre workshop you attended in college to good use, as you brag about how intensely busy you were working on the file and accidentally missed the call. Yes, indeed, it’s a lot like Mom catching you with an Archie comic inside your textbook during study hour. Confidence is key to getting away.
Just like you magically pulled an hour or so of extra time out of thin air in the morning, your afternoon slumber will just as magically make a few hours disappear. All your work is still pending, and now the pressure is building up, as the sun starts to set outside the window and your boss starts following up on mail for the file you have been working on all day. You recall the crazy, desperate last-minute cramming sessions before your Physics paper. If things already weren’t bad, Mom tells you to get something from the market, and you start regretting the decisions you have made today.
And then, just like every other day at work that you spend labouring — chatting around the watercooler, taking a chai break every hour — you realise it’s going to be a long night. This time at home. You furiously type away on the laptop, promising yourself that you are going to organise your day better the next time you work from home. “I’ll study properly for the next exam,” you remember promising yourself before every test. The cycle continues unbroken.

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