– by Rachna Singh, Author – Band, Baaja, Boys
When Gabbar Singh posed the, now iconic, question, ‘Kitne Aadmi Thay?’, he wouldn’t have known that in 2020, it will be posed again. In entirely different circumstances.
An emergency buzzer sounded in a nearby office. Two or three more than the allowed 50% employees had, somehow, infiltrated the premises. The security chief bounded down the corridors, his mask galloping on his nose. The CEO emerged from a billowing mist of sanitizer, like Helen emerging to the pulsating beats of Mehbooba Mehbooba. But, instead of breaking into a dance, he also ran. The two met midway in the corridor, screeching to a halt at respectable socially-distanced positions.
“Kitne Aadmi Thay, Colonel Mann?”
“I am checking, sir.”
While some organizations are keeping close tabs on the numbers inside their deserted-looking office-buildings, there are those that are asking their employees to work from home. A friend shared how her organization has given up two of the three floors of their office space. Only 10% of the workforce comes to office now. The rest are at home. Like Radha, the Thakur-bahu, whose only job was to light lanterns and throw sideway glances at Jai. But the new post-Covid Radhas have much more lined up. In fact, people have been complaining that working from home has increased their workload. They are edgy with the stress. A friend who is working from home (and, hence, hasn’t combed his hair for two months), tells me,
“It’s more stressful than having to go to office.”
“Why? Because you have lice in your hair now?”
“No”, he looks offended as he scratches his hair, “being alert on calls all the time drains energy. There aren’t any more opportunities to discuss over hot ramen in the cafeteria, or have an informal chat while in the elevator. IT’S ALL ONLINE NOW.”
Others add that another reason for stress is the blurring of boundaries between when work finishes and ‘home’ begins. In my neighbour’s case, they have not only blurred, they have gone down the drain. Literally. During my post-dinner walks, I spot him washing vessels whole his blue-tooth ear-piece is firmly secured to his ear. Occasionally, he turns off the tap, unmutes himself and says,
“I will send the updated report tomorrow.” Then, he picks the scrubber and resumes scraping the pasta sauce off. “It’s not the work itself”, a cousin complains, “it’s just that I am not accustomed to being home all day. To make it worse, Travis just does not get that I am not on vacation. He wants attention ALL the time.”
“Talk to him. I am sure he will understand.”
“Travis is my dog.”
That is when I remember that her husband’s name isn’t Travis. It’s Rohan. Or, Sampath. Or, something like that.
Technology is coming to the aid of business leaders who are concerned if their employees are sleeping on the job. Like Sambha sitting atop a hillock and keeping watch, there are tools that report without being asked the mandatory, ‘Arre O Sambha’.
That is making you more anxious than the gardener showing up without a mask and coughing on your Petunias. Will your boss find out that there aren’t any trousers where your classy linen shirt ends?
The seventh meeting for the day has begun. Your colleague is droning on. Your stomach is warm and happy with the afternoon’s hot sambar-rice. You decide to shut your eyes. Just for ten minutes, you tell yourself. But the somnolent afternoon breeze filtering through the scented lemongrass on the window-sill lulls you into deep slumber. You are snoring now, oblivious to your name being called out.
Finally, your frustrated colleague asks, “Itna Sannata Kyon hai, bhai?”
This was a special feature article by Rachna Singh. Rachna Masters, an L&OD professional with 25+ years of experience in various leadership positions in Tata Motors, Infosys, and Dell.
She is also one of India’s top humour writers. Her book, ‘Band, Baaja, Boys’ has been adapted into a web series called ‘Mannphodgunj ki Binny’.
We will continue to present relevant news and interesting insights across industries with the help of our wide network, and the much-appreciated collaboration of our contributors. NKC is an end-to-end job solutions provider that bridges the gap between job seekers and employers. We have recently established a new vertical as job consultants in the education sector while continuing to be a forerunning fashion & textile recruitment agency and staffing company.