I never thought the day would come when I would say that I am happy to be in the office-but here I am happy to be in the office but not at home. The last two weeks has seen the world change and nothing in our business is as we had planned. Initially, this Corona thing appeared to be far removed from us. In fact, when we received an email from the head office talking about the need to reduce business travel, I did not even bother reading it – I deleted it.
A few days later, we were informed that some regional bosses would not be coming for their regular Quarter 1 pilgrimage owing to the coronavirus. I was actually relieved about this state of affairs because these visits cause too much anxiety.
Things have however changed in the last couple of weeks. Following the Presidential Directive about working from home, our leadership team sat and came up with the staff they consider “critical” and who might need to come into the office on some days and those who could work from home all the time. I was very certain that I would be working from home after all, what is so critical about strategy and planning at this time.
Imagine my shock when by boss came to me and said, “ We need you in the office three days a week.” I was taken aback and hastily said, “ what for?” He chuckled and said, “ We need you to be crunching numbers on daily basis and advising us how to manage our day-to-day strategy.” I was tempted to retort, “ how can we be thinking strategy at this time?” I however opted to keep quiet because I realised that such a response might not sit well with the boss.
So last week, I spent Monday and Tuesday at home and by the end of Tuesday I was losing my wits. The children are home and to be honest they were driving me insane with their endless shrieking, bickering and fighting. Every two minutes one of them would come dashing to my home office demanding one thing or another leaving no peace in the house.
Unfortunately, I am the only parent at home since Shiro has been unable to leave Dubai. Shiro is also not helping matters, for she keeps calling every 10 minutes to check on the home situation —about how often we are using sanitiser and if we are maintaining enough social distance. The other day she yelled at me telling me that I need to take my mother to the village because she is “highly likely to contract corona and infect the children.” I told her, “ I am not going to do such a heartless thing to my mother.” The other day she went on and on about how I should not let the kids “ go out and play for they will catch Corona.” I told her that their going outdoors was the only way I would have peace and get some work done. This set her off one more time as she said I was putting work before family. This constant checking in where she even insists on seeing what is in the store to ensure that we have “ enough stocks to survive a lockdown” is driving me insane.
That is why I am happy to be in the office today away from the screaming children and the calls from Shiro. The office is eerily quiet though I still keep getting emails from the Head Office asking me to map likely business performance against the evolving scenarios. I’m also getting lots of queries to provide more “detail on the Corona situation” beyond what is in the news. I am tempted to tell these folks to take a hike-but I just stay mute for this is not as bad as being home.
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