Are we prepared to work from home?

March 29, 2020

The virus is changing our perspective towards life

The first 100,000 cases of coronavirus were reported in 67 days, the second were reported in 11 days, the third in four, and the fourth 100,000 cases in less than four days. The scale is staggering and so has been the response – though many would contest the latter claim. When was the last time we saw nearly half of the world in a lockdown? It is like watching a scary sci-fi end-of-the-world movie, only there the understanding is clear: it’s just a movie and it will end. Now, it is different. Every day, we count the dead, first thing in the morning.

The virus is changing our perspectives towards life: how we do things, how we perceive and even confront potential threats.

How would I (if I survive), or our future generations, remember these testing times? I assume by slightly altering the previously-held concepts of AD (anno domini, meaning the year of the Lord) and BC (before Christ) to BC (before coronavirus) and AC (after coronavirus).

Never ever in the wildest of my dreams had I thought about such times – fearing something as daunting as this virus.

When the virus started knocking at our doors, my office advised me to work from home as I came under the category of the ‘most vulnerable’. So I was sent home. Today is my sixth day in isolation. Around the world, millions of people have been told to stay at home in a bid to slow the spread of this deadly virus.

To tell you the truth, it’s not easy at least for someone who has been going to work for more than 30 years and is wholly addicted to it. As this working-from-home lockdown came out of the blue, I was not prepared for it, neither were many organisations. So here I am sitting on the dining table with my laptop surrounded by two empty tea cups, two dumbbells (for exercising), a box of tissue paper (mercilessly used every day), a pack of Panadol (its pollen season and every sneeze is frowned upon in the next room), a jar of honey (considered good for cold but it only increases my sugar level), and a small bottle containing kalonji (black seed) that my wife believes is a cure for everything.

I don’t remember a time when all four of us stayed home together for so long. Last night, my younger son, who hates to hug and display emotions, came and hugged me. “Three more weeks” was all he could say, tugging his head further down my arms. Like all of us, he is tired. But he is also witnessing a revolution in the way we lead our lives, how we work and survive.

But even this sci-fi existence has its ups. I hear birds chirping, the sky looks jet-washed clean and there is less traffic on the roads. I was looking at satellite images of China and compared these with those that I saw six months ago. It was as if these were two different countries. The air looked clean and perhaps, thankful.

The thing that bothers me is the silence. It’s too loud and too obvious.

Someone wrote on Twitter that her dog looked unwell and so she consulted the vet. The doctor inferred that the dog had strained its tail by constantly wagging it. “It had not seen all of you at home spending so much time together. Its display of affection is the cause of it being unwell,” the doctor concluded.

Are we prepared to work from home? Perhaps not, but it is possible. Though many people have been working from home even before Covid-19, it is a fraction of the workforce. There are many tools and services available to help people perform their duties effectively from their homes. Meetings can be held on Zoom and companies can allow workers to connect to office servers using virtual private networks (VPNs).

Perhaps, nature is telling us something. Perhaps, we are being told that it is not too late to rethink our lives and perhaps this is the answer for pollution in the long run.

The writer is a journalist and author of The Ameer is Dead

Amid coronavirus outbreak, are we prepared to work from home?