Editor’s Note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for August, 2021 is Digital Realities. We invite submissions on the many layers of experiences from the virtual world throughout the month. If you’d like to contribute, kindly email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
When Covid19 tip-toed its way into India in early 2020, my organisation announced work from home for all employees until further notice. To be very honest, my first thought was how this will help me escape the incorrigible traffic jams thanks to never ending flyover constructions and roadwork in Bangalore.
Little did I realise, that this pandemic would shake up my second home; a little community that I had created for myself over the years – my workplace.
For most of us, especially speaking from the point of view of a woman, a workplace gives us an alternative world which is unhinged from our homes. A world that requires us to make constructive use of our education and intellect and convert them into ideas and help execute critical deliverables.
A workplace allows us to monetise our talent, outside the capacity of daily household duties. It also allows us to bond with co-workers possessing knowledge and talent across various domains. However, now the pandemic has clawed its way in and possibly altered every conventional aspect that a workplace consisted of.
Physical presence, a cup of chai with colleagues
Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams and other modes of virtual communication have more or less replaced meeting rooms and conferences. But what remains irreplaceable is that cup of chai or coffee that one grabs with their colleagues to discuss a nagging work issue or a family matter or maybe the latest season of their favorite show.
Those ten minutes spent under the sun at a tea shop or inside a cafeteria had the power to help one destress from a taxing day at work and get their mojo back together. Taking a minute to discuss a game of cricket, or to compliment a co-worker’s outfit, discussing real estate woes, having lunch together and everything else that a physical workplace offered has now become history for most of us working from home, over the past one and a half years.
One almost romanticises the nostalgia of being physically present for meetings, seminars, one-on-one discussions with colleagues and managers after a year of the fatigue and dissonance of having to do these things virtually.
The importance of maintaining eye contact with attendees while presenting is often disturbed by network glitches and interruptions in the form of background noises from our homes – which range from the chirping of birds, the call of our local vegetable vendors, sounds of mechanical work happening in the neighbourhood to the voices of the people living at home.
Social media apps like Facebook and other virtual conference platforms are trying very hard to fill the voids of physical presence but the fact remains that some of us still, somewhere deep down, fancy the physical presence of our colleagues during discussions and presentations at work.
Technology facilitated virtual realities have gradually become the new normal and shall remain an integral part of our lives for the months to come. But however, the joy of co-working spaces, office lounges and personal desks have their own value in our memories and will continue to remind us of the importance of a physical workplace.
Sneha has worked in the content/news space in various capacities. She has previously worked as a business journalist, as well as a media investment associate for a philanthropic fund. She is currently a partnerships manager for media platform. She has also volunteered with Facebook’s GOAL Program as a student mentor to impart digital literacy to rural women. She is passionate about writing on matters that involve the Internet, social media and education
Featured Image Source: Ritika Banerjee for Feminism In India