Continued from Previous……


The two things to happen after lockdown are #Stay at Home and #Work from Home. The #Flexible Hours is squeezed in between. These are new and first for everyone. The reactions are therefore highly variable.

First the difference between SAH and WFH.

#Stay at Home is for those jobs who cannot work at all. Sales teams, customer services teams, public dealing teams, front desk staff, operational teams if the plant is closed, transport staff, daily wage labors, and so on. Such staff has no provision for work during lockdown and are forced to stay at homes. It may be called ‘forced holiday’ which may turn out to be unpaid for some.

#Work from Home is for those who can keep working from a distance. They can collaborate online or through phones and can do most of their work online. HR, Accounts, IT, Marketing, Planning, Procurement are some examples of this kind. Software houses are already used to working with teams which are placed at various locations and they are least affected. #Work from Home is basically a change of location; the work largely remains the same.

There are practical issues in #Work from Home in Pakistan.

  1. Majority of offices and businesses in Pakistan do not work online. The use of computer is mostly for keeping the data there, and even this use is not universally adopted. You will still find plenty of workplaces doing everything manually, and on paper.
  2. A small fraction of lager companies is using ERP; SAP has become quite popular in this class. It is an entirely different debate if implementation of SAP is really helping in decision making or paperless environment; generally, none. Even among companies using SAP/Oracle or like, the software runs on inhouse servers, apparently for security reasons. Work online is not possible.
  3. Authorization is still done on paper, even where an advanced ERP is installed. The document is printed and signed by various competent authorities.
  4. Pharma companies have received exemption from lockdown and have better options. Others have no option other than stopping altogether or violating the lockdown.

#Work from Home therefore is rendered useless to a large extent due to our specific work environment and practices.

The other problem is attitude. It is almost impossible for most entrepreneurs to pay to their staff while they sit home and do nothing. It will require a lion’s heart and we are not known for such courtesy. Our business owners would still spend millions in charity to ward off the ‘Evil Virus’ but will not pay to workless people.

Two scenarios are emerging early.

For businesses, which have received exemption, there is a tendency to call as many people as can be done. The tendency is not limited to the CEOs; the managers are also displaying this attitude. They themselves are coming and calling their entire staff also.

For businesses which are not exempted, the decision is in suspense. The mood is not very pleasant, and we can keep fingers crossed about what will come out of it.

The additional concern is about the exact length of lockdown. Almost everyone echoes the sentiment that the lockdown till 7th April is the first episode; further extension will surely come. Another couple of weeks? Or more? Small businesses may not be able to sustain and may resort to cost cutting through layoffs and salary cuts. Larger ones are in a better situation to cope, unless they decide not to.

#Stay at Home therefore is a matter of anxiety for many. #Work from Home has limited practical application, but it is worth clinging to.

What should the #Stay at Home should do?

Those who are in this group must utilize this time to enhance their existing skills or learning new skills which would increase their value at the current job or for acquiring new job, if they have to. This is applicable to most office and white-collar jobs. Please do not consider it as holiday; consider that you have been suspended from job and you have to prove your worth to get it back.

Blue-Collar workers, if skilled, can also use the same principle. Skilled workers do have higher value and may not suffer later. Unskilled labor may not face too many problems. After the lockdown is lifted, they will be back to work, though they may have to suffer during this period.

#Work from Home needs a rigorous protocol and routine. Very detailed guidelines are coming from diverse sources which are addressing pertinent points. I recently received a similar communication from Liz Kislik. She is a long-time management consultant and contributor to Harvard Business Review and Forbes. I am honored to be a fellow ReXer (Recognized Expert) with her. It is over to her for her recommendations. [Quote]

Create a schedule or routine. A little bit of flexible structure gives you something to hang on to. If you’re working from home, just labeling chunks of time can make the day feel saner and safer, like stepping-stones in a rushing river — even if you can’t stick to the plan.

Keep moving. Your body is made for movement, not for hunching over your laptop (as I admit I’m doing right this minute). In almost any size space you can jog or step in place and stretch. When you let your body do its work it will feel better about supporting the rest of you.

Seek beauty and pleasure. Everyone’s under pressure, including people who are still in denial about the pandemic’s reality. It’s amazing how a few minutes of intentional enjoyment — looking at the evening sky, listening to your favorite music, stroking a pet, or tasting something delicious — can improve your mood.

Stay in touch. Meet online, or reach out to colleagues you don’t think about every day but actually care about. If you’ve got a remote team, gather them for a quick morning coffee, a daily check-in, or a virtual happy hour. Schedule regular calls with loved ones, because if it’s on your calendar, you’re more likely to keep the appointment and get that boost of human contact.

Pause. Whenever you find yourself feeling scattered, making mistakes, or cycling repetitively through your thoughts, just hold still for a minute. Rest, right where you are. Let everything settle into the ground. Exhale all the way. Then inhale and exhale again. Let the cobwebs clear, and then return a bit more peacefully to whatever’s in front of you.

Create order. Because you’re out of routine, it’s easy to lose track and let work stuff comingle with home stuff, maybe even pick up a few Legos, until everything in your life feels like a mess. Consciously clean up a little after each chunk of time or activity so your space and your person both feel less overwhelmed.

Compartmentalize. Sometimes you just need to stop thinking about how bad things are, and how frightening it would be if your imagined worst-case scenario came true. Deliberately tell yourself, “I’ve spent enough time on that worry today. I’ll think about it again tomorrow,” and then focus fully only on what’s happening now.

Help someone else. No matter how unsettled you feel, doing something kind for someone else can raise your spirits — or at the very least, provide a distraction. Call elderly neighbors, contribute to an organization you care about, or buy a gift certificate from a local business that can use the cash while people aren’t out shopping.

Think about something interesting. Too much news can flip you from well-informed to absolutely flooded by agitation and hopelessness. Instead, set off little sparks in your brain by learning something new. Revving your brainpower positively can help trigger fresh ideas about some of the ongoing challenges you’re facing.

Express love for your loved ones, for strangers, and for yourself. Your willingness to believe and feel that other human beings are worthy of love and care can lift you out of many a hole. And accepting that you yourself are worthy of love and care can remind you to feel compassion for your own frailties and mistakes and let others support you.

Yes, we’re all experiencing a hard time, and it’s not likely to end quickly. But it is possible to withstand, cope, and even to grow in the face of these dire threats. [unquote]


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