Editor’s Note: This month, that is January 2021, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Work and The Workplace, where we invite various articles to highlight the profound changes that our workplaces may or may not have undergone and the effect that these changes have had on our personal and professional lives and ways of living in the time of the pandemic. If you’d like to share your article, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The year 2020 has truly been one of the biggest roller coasters in our lives. The year has taken away a lot of things from most of us, and has highlighted our privileges like never before. We sure had read and understood that the higher ups are the last to be affected in any crisis, however the way this reality unfolded in the sector of work was palpable.
The struggle reared its ugly head when an overnight lockdown left daily wage earners and labourers in panic. People who earn their wage in the day to eat bread in the night had no security, government program, NGO help or even shelters to get the support. Non-empathetic governance left a large portion of Indian people working in urban settings with their roots in rural settings abandoned amidst the crisis.
For a lot of women, who have so far earned their living through domestic work, this unorganised sector saw a standstill. For many of them, the education of their children, financial security of the household and their own financial independence depended largely on the work they did. However, there were families, who despite the pandemic, continued to support them and paid their monthly wages when a large section of society did not collectively do so.
A lot of people working in the corporate industry, also work on a contractual basis. These get extended after a period of say 6 months to 1 year mostly. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened the job security of those who were not working on company payrolls, or were working on such contracts. A very high percentage of people working within these structures were laid off and sadly found it very difficult to find stable jobs.
My contract too got over in 6 months of joining a very well established German MNC and I found myself jobless amidst the global pandemic. On March 16th, I joined an MNC functioning in over 160 countries. The role was everything I ever wanted, I was in charge of creating newsletters, email marketing, social media marketing, writing press releases, contacting best newspapers and pitching our articles to them for advertisement, writing for senior management etc.
In my five years of career in content creation and marketing, this job was to give me the best exposure so far, and although the hiring manager told me I’ll be on contract for the first 6 months, it hardly mattered because they assured the contract will get extended and if my performance seemed fine, I’d be on the company payroll soon. I was elated, but soon the lockdown was placed. However, I kept working just fine! I had moved away from my home at my work location and was having the best time of my life living on my own. I would not want to move back to my home but fate had it differently.
For the first few months, my work was praised, and everyone seemed to love reading whatever I wrote. However, the fifth month stroke and I had anticipated that I may or may not get to keep the job. I was very diplomatically told to start looking for freelance work. It was frustrating as I had worked 12-14 hours in a Work-From-Home setting and had expectations. It was then, I was caught thinking that higher ups, no matter what, get to keep the job and lower positions are first to be sacked. I was not even a manager by now so my position got threatened and ultimately I had to leave the job!
What followed was the dreadful thought of returning to home, so I began searching for a new job. I did get one, but they wanted me in office and I, being a sufferer of acute bronchitis attacks, did not want to risk it in coronavirus pandemic. So I packed my bags and moved in with my family and returned home. Financially and mentally things became a little tough to manage. However, I reminded myself, I was still in the privileged category and could say ‘no’ to an offer letter because I could afford to stay home. I counted my blessings!
My online marketing and content creation skills too came to my rescue and I started making a few of my own clients. I updated my own writing page on social media, boosted it, created my own website using tools (a skill I had already gained) and marketed myself for the first time! Though financially it is still a struggle to maintain the uncertainty of not getting work for days in a stretch, I learnt a lot about myself and the power of skills I own.
At the end, I feel, being someone who is privileged enough to have a home, a laptop, a WiFi connection, with marketing and content creation skills of industry standards, I had nothing to complain. Yet the anxiety that flares at times does give me a few sleepless nights. However, people who have returned to their hometowns, people working in unorganised sectors, in marginalised groups, need a support system of the entire community and government in order to fare well despite all the struggles.
Nimisha has been working in the field of content creation and content marketing for over 5 years. She is also a published author of a feminist poetry book called “Of Reflections and Society”. She is very passionate about Feminist Politics, Politics of Gender, Caste, Class and Sexuality. You can find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Featured Image Source: Poynter