I am one of the privileged few who got to keep their jobs in the pandemic and also got the opportunity to switch companies in between.
It took time for a lot of older employees to acclimatize to the new normal of zoom meetings and WFH.
So I will share both the experiences here. During the onset of the pandemic, it was chaotic, old people in traditional sectors like banking were still getting familiar with online meeting tools. Half of the time you are helping them with the share button, mute button, and how to host meeting lectures. Young people like me suddenly found a new responsibility and a sense of ownership to guide others through this new normal.
Then comes the second stage of uncertainty, WhatsApp stopped being used for personal chats, it just became the official mode of communication for everything after mail. Every day, new forwards, new guidelines from management, and hopeless texts from team members who are stuck in different parts of the country. Let’s not forget the news of salary cuts and postponement of last year’s appraisals.
The third phase is that of untrust. Older industry veterans didn’t know how to trust their employees with WFH situation hence started asking for daily updates including work time study, that time despite being in a management role you can’t help but feel like a factory worker where even breaks are monitored.
Then started the news of lay-offs everywhere and hence you started putting in everything you have to your work, be it answering 2:30 A.M mails or scheduling and attending impromptu 11:00 P.M meetings, just to ensure you are over-delivering and becoming more important so your chances of being cutoff are reduced.
Let’s not forget the internet and electricity companies here, how come they know when we have a very important presentation or call to attend to, either wi-fi stops working or power is out. The coincidences are eerily serious. Now I really want to know who all can see my calendars? And your weeks are Monday to Friday, Post Friday, Pre Monday, and back again.
Hence the concept of the weekend vanished. Now if you are not working on weekends, be sure to experience FOMO because somebody will definitely be working and pinging you constantly for data. So never mind as a supportive colleague you will work on weekends to the extent you will forget which day is it?
The fourth phase is that of anxiety, every time your phone rings you are worried about what’s new now, I finished everything to take some time to make coffee, but can’t I even breathe in for a minute? I badly need to disconnect and check with my family on how they are doing but rather you don’t want to touch your phone, because then you would be shown as online and have to reply nonstop to the flooding of work-related text messages.
Then comes the stage of non-appreciation and ungratefulness part of the appraisal process. We get it, it’s been a difficult time everywhere, but at-least ensure the qualitative feedback is humane, no one is asking for a hike, geez!. But at least tell me if all those sleepless nights are worth something when we extended beyond our personal and professional zones only to be given some vague feedback on what has to be done in the next six months and whatever you did till now is not even counted.
Coming to the latter part of the pandemic, we all have adjusted to a new way of normal and losing out on informal connections with colleagues but that’s okay, we have learned to navigate ourselves better formally and are badly waiting for this pandemic to get over so we can get out of all these stingy comfy wear and put on some nice get-up, meet people, get coffee and discuss our pandemic lives and gossip near water coolers.