“What good habits / practices / ideas / lifestyle changes have you adopted during the pandemic and will continue to hold on to even if all restrictions are lifted?”
We asked some in the Founding Fuel community this question. Here are four responses—on the benefits of going to the office when everyone else is working from home, on the positives of remote meetings, resilience, and connecting more while also carving out time with oneself.
Appreciating the indoors
By Shravan Bhat
Marketing Lead at Center for Climate-Aligned Finance
At least in the summer you could go outside. In New York, our lockdown ended by summer 2020 and so we really made the most of the outdoors. But as winter rolled out, it was just too cold to be outside. Pre-Covid, at least you could spend winters inside: at galleries and museums and cinemas. But Covid winter robbed me of the indoors too: things were closed and/or people were scared to congregate. In fact, the only indoor space that actively wanted you was... the office. So I went.
I saw three upsides of going into work. First, I would go in every day and leave my laptop in the office. This means once I left work, work left me. No need to unplug and lug my computer twice a day. I would wave goodbye to Manhattan—to work—as I took the train home over the water to Brooklyn every evening. Second, I would get a salad for lunch near my office every day—there are no healthy food options near my apartment. After 30 years, I learned to love salad. Lastly, I used my 35-minute commute to start reading again. I read Dune and I rode the city’s underground trains like Paul Atreides rides Arakis’ giant sandworms. I think my train is probably scarier though.
Listening and being heard
Product Strategy & Monetization, Microsoft Azure, Seattle
In the pre-pandemic world, I was often part of sub-optimal, sub-inclusive workplace meetings where the more senior, more extroverted, majority-demographic people were more likely to talk more, listen less and interrupt or speak over others. The forced experimentation with remote work during the pandemic has taught me how to be a more inclusive participant and facilitator of large workplace meetings. Even with folks going back to the office (or some form of hybrid work), a practice that I intend to continue deploying is the smaller things like raising your hand before wanting to speak, creating smaller breakout sessions to bring in all perspectives and voices and not assuming the most confident person is the most competent person in the room.
Flying against the wind
Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIM Indore
The Covid pandemic brought life to a standstill. We couldn’t imagine that small pleasures of life like dining out with our family and friends, going out for a game of cricket, or having a swim will overnight become luxuries that one dreams about. What made matters worse was despite having the resources to purchase groceries and stationery, one could see that every item sold was rationed. Initially, one had the food stocks but was still scared to use them, anticipating that we may not have the luxury to purchase certain items again the next day. Purchasing capacity and intention to purchase and consume were not enough to get hold of any product or service. I am sure each of us has had some unique learnings from our experiences during the pandemic.
On a personal note, the pandemic reinforced some of the lessons we grew up learning and relearning but could never fathom their depth. One lesson is the optimism of human beings to live for another day. This optimism instigates a deep desire in each one of us to dig deep and summon resilience from the deepest of reservoirs. We may fail or win, but there is no questioning the human spirit. Second. Darwin’s theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest and the pandemic bears testimony to this timeless theory. It was a slugfest between nature and humans, with none of the two sides showing any mercy.
Finally, as an academic, initially, I was all at sea regarding online learning. But call it human resilience and optimism or the determination to be on the fitter side and be in sync with natural selection. I could prevail with a reasonable degree of success. I could read more, write more and teach more.
I am reminded of a saying that I came across during my school days, and I could relate to that saying during the pandemic. The saying goes as follows: “A little bit of opposition is always essential. Kites fly against the wind, not with it.”
Increase our engagement regardless of geography
By KL Mukesh
Venture Partner, Unitus Ventures
I used to manage operations across Latin America. So, managing a remote team is something I did even in early 2000—but this was entirely emails and phone calls. I moved back to India and in-person meeting became the default. During the pandemic, this was not an option. Google Meet adoption increased. Suddenly, the social enterprise world opened up significantly. Over the last couple years, my work with folks working in tribal areas has actually increased significantly—simply because both parties have tried it and have been successful. We have been able to do all kinds of oddball stuff—get fodder cultivation to happen, establish kitchen gardens, experiment with options for livelihood—all using a combination of Google Meet, email and WhatsApp. There is confidence that we can increase our engagement regardless of geography.
A couple months into the pandemic, it just got very depressing reading the WhatsApp messages. Somewhere we seem to have forgotten that humans adapt. Such chaos also leads to innovation and new models. I took to writing a series called “Under The Hood”—one short article every week that would explore math through the lens of humanities—articles that did not require any deep knowledge of math. The idea was to look beyond politics and pandemic, appreciate the way societies accumulate knowledge and how knowledge builds depending on societal conditions. This was the first time ever that I wrote anything at all. I managed to put together 78 articles—and now I am addicted! I plan to start a new series in another couple months.
During the pandemic, the amount of time spent on all things digital grew to unacceptable levels. So, sometime in the middle of the pandemic I decided, I should have alone time—no books, no entertainment, nothing digital. Just be silent, listen to the sounds, walk, breathe—short sessions during the day. I found it extremely relaxing. This will continue.