Work From Home:An Altered Narrative
Before April of 2020 the definition of professional work culture wasclearly defined.Any work that was done outside the house in an office set up or on field was considered to be a formal job or profession, whilst any work done from home was always an alternative form and was not perceived ever as a formal format of job. In fact, work from home was a non-acknowledged piece of job, almost always, until something changed globally.
In most cases, work from home was only accepted when an employee of an organisation would either not be capable of working from an office or would need a vacation or a day off, however sincehis/her presence on certain projects would be pressingaccording to their organisational requirement, he/she would need to perform the job from outside of an office for the lack of attending to office.
April 2020 or to be precise the last week of March 2020 proved to be the game changer in the field of formal work or if I’m allowed to say ‘paid job’, when a viral outbreak called COVID-19 took grip of some of the so called first world countries.
It was not the first time that these super developed nations suffered an outbreak.There were previous instances of similar outbreaks like SARS and MRSAon the American land and they quite well tackled it or so can we say.But it appeared as though COVID-19 was not ready to accept the challenge to stay put in a confined geographical location and it decided to travel across the boundaries of continents.
Given the touristic nature of this virus it fast travelled the nooks and corners of the world and once itgot a grip over the entire world it was no more an outbreak. Corona Virus, as we colloquially call it, was declared a Pandemic. As if COVID-19 was not happy enough with its glorification or in this case coronationas a Pandemic, it refused to stop at a certain point. It just went on to bring the world economydown to its knees by the first week of April 2020.
Every country was trying to understand what exactly is happening. How is it spreading? Why is it fatal? So may questions that were threatening the existence of human life.
During this period, India as a nation,was the first country to impose a total lockdown on March 24th 2020. Lockdown means literally no establishments whatsoever be open. It was made to understand that any close communication between two or more individuals, of which even one being partially/fully infected by the novel corona virus (COVID-19), would be a potential threat to a larger population. As a result of this, every establishment and possible places that had groups of people gathering were banned from being functional. Professional workplaces like offices, educational institutions were the most effected. Temples and other places of worship, roads, restaurants and every possible place you can think of where more than two people can group were closed indefinitely.
And then, there was this one place that had to stayactive and functional. There was no choice for this place to be shut down. It was the inside of the house. Work from home which always existed and never ever ceased, was now being acknowledged by working professionals, as a considerable and viable option. Then there was one more place inside the house, where the activities for the entire human existence took place, despite all the offices and workplaces being shut down completely for weeks together, without any clarity on re-opening, it wasthe KITCHENS in every household that kept dolingfood for every member of the family without any halt, three times a day and in some cases more. There were many of them who also extended their food support for people outside the family as a gesture of compassion. People lost jobs, salaries took a downfall for those who still had their jobs, businesses crashed, and travel ceased as everyone was taken by overwhelming surprise caused by the spread of Corona virus. Some even came to this ultimate agreement with life that this is the doom time for the world and human race will be wiped out.
Despite this outraging confusion all over the place, it was this one kind of work from home that never stopped, never will. This rarely acknowledged form of work from home, is one of the best things that has happened to mankind.
The kitchen, the cleanliness inside the houses, the wellness of members of the house none of these has ever got the status of work from home. On more than one occasion you will only find anybody look at household activities not as a work from home.Many of us are not even aware what it takes to run a household and a kitchen, other than money. The organising of the living space conducive to the people in the household, the nutrition that needs to be provided to specific members in specific ways, like different type of food for children, for elderly depending on their health and nourishment needs. And when there are more than usual number of family members at all times present in the family (because on normal days some would go to work and some to school), even engaging them well, so that the sanity of the house can be preserved, is a herculean task in itself. With the absence of housemaids, which is more of an Asian concept, most householders especially women were left to fend for themselves, no matter how rich. Cooking, cleaning, and the extra load of sanitising every inch of space that comes into direct physical contact had made householding, a solid reality of work from home.
But, as things are getting back to normalcy and people have started venturing outdoors, you will never hear anyone say that householding is the real work from home. There will always be enough and more people who will be back to their own style of addressing the housewife or anyone else who takes full time care of the house as ‘sitting-at-home’. One of the biggest truths about workforce will continue to be unacknowledged even after it stood tall and affirming when one of the biggest upheaval shook us all up.