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How Can We Balance Productivity And Healthy Boundaries While Working From Home?

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 With the work from home almost a carol now, thanks to efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, many corporates including my fiancée find themselves on a learning curve. 

There are certain structures, spatial and psychological, that underlie work. It is these structures that instil the discipline in a workforce that is necessary for it to work in alignment with stated organizational objectives and meet deadlines. Even in a work from home scenario, the psychological dynamics of work will usually be present, serving as a pointed goad to spur remote working employees to stick to deadlines.

Covid-19 effect: Most prefer working from home, say productivity up, reveals all-India survey | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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However, lack of spatial centralization can throw things out of whack if nothing to done to counterbalance it. At this hour, when the world is seeking to check the spread of COVID 19 work from home became a chant. And there should be innumerable cases of teams pitchforked into a remote working arrangement. 

 In Hyderabad with my working fiancée as a corporate trainer & life, the coach shares the experience of learning and development are highly collaborative pursuits, and our apprehension about going entirely remote was rooted in that consideration. It did not take long for us to realize that we had overestimated the complexity. She shares her insights on how teams throwing themselves in a deep end by going fully remote can cope with the challenges. There should be a preset time when all times would be logged in at 10:00 am to 5 pm so it’s like creating a parallel work schedule one that promotes interaction and collaboration as if the office had not shifted at all to the employees living room. She believes that there should be over communication on the part of team members when a team is just getting into remote working.

The team members should communicate and volunteer information about what she is doing as a team manager. On her side, the manager or the team leader should clearly lay down the objectives and key results, and let every team member know what is expected from them, and let them do without needless micromanaging. The manager should avoid activity-based managing and focus on objective-based managing.

Long hours, coordination trouble: Work from home isn't really easy | Lifestyle News,The Indian Express
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She points out that there is any number of digital platforms where members of a team can connect and have a virtual meeting room, and having a virtual meeting every working day is the indispensable way of creating a sense of being in an office environment. She believes there has to external and striking evidence that everyone treats work from home seriously, and that alone can solidify the foundation on which the arrangement stands. 

Members of a team that works from home should dress the part, togged in clothes that are readily associated with work which will be noticeable when the team meets on any video and keep to timings. There is a certain sanctity to treating that time at home, as real work for which you prepare. Secondly, there should be engagement with one another, which men as team members don’t get cocooned in their work and forget that there is a team out there that works with them.

It is necessary for someone on a remote working arrangement to communicate its inherent demands to their family and that though they are home, they should be treated as if they were really far from in work from home can blunt our ability to appreciate the human side of the business; and remote working have to watch out for that. 

She says this current work from home scenario arising out of efforts to check the spread of novel; coronavirus, is hardly business as usual, and therefore it is necessary to lift up one’s spirits by setting aside some time to connect with colleagues for light banter. Her attention draws attention to an initiative, lockdown diaries, where her subordinates are on video talking and making WhatsApp workgroups about the mundane aspects of life in these COVID-19 times, such as having to cook, kitchen chores for themselves and for her family, while also working from home. 

Coronavirus is giving us a glimpse of the future of work – and it's a nightmare | Suzanne Moore | The Guardian
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Here is a thought to mull over, she says, the COVID-19 situation has forced a number of organizations to uncover the practical side of flexibility.it has made many companies realize that work from home is possible. What it needs is some deep thinking, framework, policies, protocols, and reporting guidelines to ensure that work is done seamlessly without disruptions.

In 2014, Harvard Business Review published a study conducted on two groups of call centre workers at a company, with one group working from home another commuting to the office over a period of nine months. Although the survey found that the former group was more productive and even happier, the researchers were still in favour of employees working only for one or two days a week from home. This is mainly because a perpetual state of work from home poses a host of challenges to both employees and employers.

COVID-19 could bring about a paradigm shift in workplace practices. But the issue of infrastructure like things the Indian companies almost 55 per cent are not comfortable with remote working. They neither have protocols in place nor do they have the infrastructure like strong internet or laptops which they need to give their employees who would work remotely.

Now there is something evident and some confidence that [post-COVID flexibility would become a way of life at many workplaces while the senior leaders who had never attempted to work from home are now forced to do so and they are actually finding it efficient. The flexible working hours can save anywhere between 25-3 and will bring about a mindset change in terms of how organizations are structured. The entire mindset that an employee needs to come to the office to take major decisions will be challenged. It may be early days but the COVID isolation has certainly made businesses realize that there indeed are more cost-effective ways of doing business. 

Does my closing follow the putting of question mark? What are the key take ways for workers, firms, and governments? Need to understand the WFH potential of various jobs and sectors to design appropriate policies and practices for dealing with the current crisis and to plan the future transition.

For example, the government needs to design support policies for sectors and workers. A one size fits all policy will be less effective in mitigating the risk optimally. Similarly, firms need to check how they compare to other competitors in their sector. The implications for workers are also manifold in terms of productivity, training, and overall well-being. These developments will have a long-lasting impact and will require close monitoring for informed decision-making.

One of the hardest parts of working from home is keeping yourself motivated and disciplined without anyone there to supervise you. You’ll need to resist the urge to cut corners just because you can. Keep your eyes on the prize!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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