The first-panel discussion of Social Samosa #AgencyCon2020 titled ‘I joined from home’ discusses what does joining a new workspace feel like when you’re joining straight from home.
Right after industry stalwarts Sam Balsara and Ashish Bhasin shared words of wisdom, the AgencyCon 2020 stage welcomed PG Aditiya, NCD, Dentsu Webchutney and his newly formed colleagues Shambhavi Ramanathan aka 40 days, Strategy Director, Dentsu Webchutney, Chaitanya Joshi aka 9 weeks, Creative Director, Dentsu Webchutney, Siddhi Desai aka 13 days, Sr. Creative Director, Dentsu Webchutney, Akshay Pathak aka 8 weeks, Client Servicing Director, Dentsu Webchutney.
If you are wondering why each of these names has been given certain weeks and days, well that’s how PG introduced them on the live panel. Those are basically the number of days or weeks old they have been at Webchutney. The candid chat cruised through PG probing his colleagues to narrate their tales of how are they putting up with the work-life, joining the agency amidst a lockdown, and what do the virtual meetings with colleagues with whom they haven’t met in person entail.
The Home-Work Process – Joining From Home
True to the panel topic, ‘I joined from home’, Joshi, Ramanathan, Pathak, and Desai went onto narrate what joining from home feels like. The 13 days old Desai was quick to reverberate that the whole process has been so far quite confusing with unfamiliar faces and no personal communication. She thinks that we don’t give enough importance to nonverbal communication.
“I had a great introduction day full of emails. I am just getting to know them through emails and now it feels like just small talk. Everybody is on a zoom call these days and I m still figuring it out”, she shares.
Desai has also changed her WhatsApp DP to let people recognize her and also wished her colleagues would do the same to ease the knowing process. Meanwhile, 40 days old Ramanathan, places herself at Phase 2 of where Desai is. She further describes that initially it was a bit of struggle but now she is used to pre-reading before meeting people and follows the norm.
She adds, “Emoticons are helping bridge gaps. The softer aspects like the chemistry, tone of voice, facial expressions are given more importance. We are actually reading them now and random checking on each other. What we are having now is shorter calls with people without any agenda”.
For Pathak, it has been a phase of learning and unlearning. He briefs that now he is completely re-looking at things and jotting down to-do lists & notes in a book which wouldn’t have been the case if in office. “I usually tend to throw off the sticky notes after the work is done. Now the book stays with us for long. It’s new learning for all of us,” he notes.
He also mentions that human interaction is what is missed the most. He has been talking to his team almost every day and simultaneously stalking them on social media to figure out a common point to talk about. In the end, it’s all about the comfort you build with the team and clients.
Joshi too describes his journey so far as one roller coaster ride. He shares, “I have my friends working in events and another sector who have lost their job and here I am making a new move”.
He also notes that for him human interaction has possibly increased and not decreased. I can possibly know a person better now. “We are now in each other’s home, through virtual screens though”.
When quizzed about mentoring and training associates in these times, Ramanathan observes that co-learning and learning are happening at par where there no clear departmentalization. “I am speaking to you because you are a sensible person and not a planner or creative strategist. That’s the biggest advantage”, she briefs.
When Pathak walked into a team of 30 people in Bombay, he wondered how to exactly talk to every single one of them and how can one try and make each other’s lives better.
For mentorship, he and his team took a rather different route. They bonded over each other’s problems and issues. Pathak thinks the whole concept of mentorship in these times has become more formal and informal.
PG cites here a report from The NewYorker which stated that how office and work are no longer synonymous, post the lockdown, offices are going to be a perk of the job and not a routine. He explains, “Work might be part of the routine. You would visit offices only in emergencies or team-building exercise and bonding with colleagues”.
Workspaces shaping up after lockdown
Joshi stresses that we have always taken the office culture for granted and now we miss the little banter with our team, the water cooler, and chai-sutta conversations. “I think once we get back and things start moving again, it will be kind of a cultural shock”.
The panelists agreed that these times have called for sensitivity and more empathy. We are building ourselves to do the work from wherever we can and right now we are adapting to it. PG pitched in to suggest that how voice notes are acting as a lifesaver in currently.
PG asked the panelists to give one advice to each other:
- Pathak: It’s important to communicate as much as possible be it voice notes or any other resource.
- Joshi: Please don’t be under serious pressure to be productive under lockdown
- Ramanathan: Find avenues and creative outlets to distress
- Desai: Put your foot down and say let’s not work after 7. That Saturday and Sunday is time to switch and disconnect.
Watch the video here: