A long time ago I was a Business Analyst in the Banking and Financial world. London introduced me to beer and work from home. I would often see my manager dropping a mail on a Monday or a Friday morning saying that he will be working from home. It took me a while to understand that it was all about replying to emails and joining the occasional calls. I did the same but I was too bored to work from home.
Cut to 12 years later; an agency founder while discussing the pros and cons of implementing a content platform asked me how am I adjusting with the new norm - Work from home. “I have been working from home for more than 9 years. I feel that all this while God was preparing me to adapt to this new norm or transformation.” My humor didn’t work with the gentleman. I also disappointed him with my blunt thoughts on why agencies should avoid investing time and money in content platforms.
Work from home made me responsible
My work from home journey started in January 2011. I had resigned and went full time with ex startup Lighthouse Insights. Initially, it was cool being an entrepreneur, getting covered in publications, and people supporting on social media. You loved the likes but soon the reality hits you. Likes were not paying the bills or the people who supported on social media didn’t come to see my pain. I somehow knew the road is going to be a long and tough one. Initially, I had a Dell laptop, a simple rack to place the laptop, and a plastic chair. Suddenly you realise that the office chair you never respected was the most comfortable thing. Or the internet was the most precious thing because now you were working on a Tata Indicom dongle with unreliable speed and electricity.
The next thing, I do is change my house for a fixed broadband line. You really can’t upload multiple JPEG images in Wordpress with a 300Kbps Internet speed. I can write a book on my love and hate relationship of finding a working fixed broadband line. After experimenting with every provider in Pune I settled with BSNL. As long it worked it was fine but when it broke then only God can save. A storm, a nonstop rain will bring the line down, and then getting them back to work was a nightmare. The other thing I did was investing in better tech infrastructure. With the help of some tech experts, I got a powerful machine that would not only work but also provide wholesome entertainment.
Life became slightly better, money came in and I moved into a bigger house. Now I had a room for my startup - it had my work setup, speakers, mini library, and my guitar. I named it the War Room. By now I also had a MacBook for my frequent travels to Mumbai and other cities. The Mac allowed me to work from anywhere because when I traveled for business, my writing wouldn’t stop. I would work from agencies, sometimes would work from a Starbuck just for Instagram but it never gave peace. In short, by now work was the only thing in mind so the place, ambiance, or work environment hardly mattered. The only thing mattered how do I give value to my readers while having a sustainable business.
Work from home to Work from anywhere
I would plug my headphones, sit in any corner, and get the work done. As soon as I am plugged in I transform into the Neo from The Matrix who is in his own world. Right now I am the same Neo, plugged in, and hardly bothered what is happening around me. Obsession is destructive - more on this next week.
Recently TC wrote Work from Home is dead and long live Work from Anywhere. “Work From Home” is terrible branding, precisely because it fails to communicate the fundamental freedom that comes with these new policies. It’s not about further imprisoning us in our homes — it’s about empowering us to think and work exactly where we are personally most productive.
Flexibility means adapting our schedules and our locations for the kinds of knowledge work we are trying to do. Some days are all meetings as we try to coordinate a number of projects. Some days we need to shut out the world and just dive down into writing our novels, or developing a new algorithm, or putting together that big presentation for the all-hands meeting next week. Some days we need a mix of both. Some days we need the comfort of home, while other days we need the comfort of colleagues.
In short, “Work From Anywhere” perfectly encapsulates that freedom and dynamism our schedules deserve.
In 2019, HBR published an article - Is it time to let employees work from anywhere? “Even as working from home (WFH) becomes relatively commonplace, a new form of remote work is emerging: working from anywhere (WFA), in which employees can live and work where they choose, typically within a specific country, but in some cases, anywhere in the world with a reliable internet connection.”
When I moved back to the employee world some people were excited to find out how the experience was.
I get paid every month and I don’t have to chase for invoices. So that is a big relief. Work was the same for me. I would come early to get my majority of work done because I can’t work in gathering and continuous disturbance. I was no more productive like I was in my startup. Largely because of my personal problems plus so much time was being wasted in getting ready, travel, meetings, spending weekends on pitches because we work at the ninth hour and unnecessary distractions. I realised that I can’t work in such setups especially with lazy minds.
In the book “It doesn’t have to be crazy at work” Basecamp co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson talk about Library Rules. “Open-plan offices suck at providing an environment for calm, creative work done by professionals who need peace, quiet, privacy, and space to think and do their best.”
In our office, if someone’s at their desk, we assume they’re deep in thought and focussed on their work. That means we don’t walk up to them and interrupt them. It also means conversations should be kept to whisper so as not to disturb anyone who could possibly hear you. Quiet runs the show.
Do we have such workplaces in India? Why not? Or let’s just make the first Wednesday of the month as the Library Rules day at the office.
I am once again back to working from home. As a consultant, I have the freedom to work on my schedule and do quiet of few things beyond my work that makes me happy. This is my work from home setup that has been consistent for the last 10 months.
This is my bed from where I am writing this weekend newsletter for you. I also sleep here, do nothing, observe my life, read, eat, listen to music, watch endless Netflix and Prime, and finally I find some time to work. This is the zone that allows me to do what I want to do.
I understand that I am fortunate that I have the option to work from anywhere. I have also made it a deliberate choice. But there are so many who don’t have the choice even if they want to and there are many who don’t like this concept. My banker brother is going to his office and he loves being there. He has his social circle and he loves to be in the mid. Unlike me who finds comfort being with myself and keeps a distance from humans.
So don’t just follow the new normal blindly. You will not like it after a while. So find your comfort and be in that zone. Whether be at the office or home or on your bed like me or any place as long you are happy and get your work done. You are the norm ;)
Are you still with me? I am happy if you are still with me. This week I shared three stories with an objective to simplify the complex world of online fundraising.
I share my learnings from the Nonprofit 2019 report that digs deep into Donation Experience, Post Donation Experience, Email Cultivation, and NGOs looking beyond Facebook.
If our ultimate goal is to get somebody to give a gift, then our "macro-yes" is a donation. But in order to get somebody to the "macro-yes" at the top of the mountain, there are a series of "micro-yeses" that must occur along that journey.
NGOs who are connecting with their Donors on a one to one basis via Phone, Video Call and Email are not only seeing engagement but also having an impact on revenues. Personal touch still matters even in the times of COVID19.
Thank you and I will see you next week with some more stories. Till then love yourself, enjoy the NOW, and spend time with your loved ones.
P.S. In the last two weeks, people you have donated more than ₹52,000/- to my personal ongoing fundraising COVID-19 campaign. Thank You! Sorry for spamming you enough on your social networks and inbox. If you want to contribute then here it is:
Peace and Happiness ❤️