Photo: Bonik Barta

There had to be shutdowns across the world.
We didn’t know what else to do. The only way to escape the virus was to stay inside our homes and not go out as we normally did before the virus onslaught. But, as a result, we experienced enormous losses in businesses, economies, jobs, as well as lives. Suddenly, we saw a massive number of have-nots across the world. The governments had their toughest times to handle so many unfed mouths.
We have some projections about when to recover from these losses, but we still don’t know how and when we will be able to fully come out of this deep depression.
On the other hand, there have been some positive impacts of these lockdowns. A large number of professionals were all working from home or they were working remotely — not attending their workplaces.
For them, the lockdown brought some interesting changes in their lives. I had very visible, quantifiable changes in my lifestyle. Apart from suffering from the psychological trauma of the virus, I could still get sufficient sleep during this period. I was waking up late, say around nine o’ clock in the morning — which I used to do at five in the morning before the lockdown.
And then, working from home created the opportunity to eat healthy home-cooked food that wasn’t possible before the pandemic. It was also possible for me to think about my own health much better than before.
I had much more time for physical exercise. Since I was home all the time, I had more time for family and it was an opportunity to interact with my partner and the children.
Many of our female colleagues, who have children to look after, had a better opportunity to take care of their children during work from home.
However, the most striking feature of work from home, as a result of the lockdown, was that our productivity went up in every aspect of our lives. The amount of work that I was doing remotely was way, way more than what I was delivering from my workplace. Professionally, I have delivered more than usual for my organization during the last three months.
It was due to the fact that we weren’t following any nine-to-five timelines for our work. Since I was home all the time, I also had the opportunity to work for about 12 to 16 hours a day. To my mind, more work didn’t actually put any pressure on my psyche. Rather, it paved a way to relieve my pandemic-related stresses.
The lockdown has also created an atmosphere for many organizations to rethink the best utilization of their human resources. If people like Ekram can deliver better from home, why would his organization keep the space that he occupies in the office? The lockdown has made organizations contemplate their cost efficiencies.
The impact of digitalization was noteworthy. Large organizations like where I work had the chance to take a digital leap in terms of managing human resources as well as in terms of serving the customers.
All of us were better connected during the three months of staying-home holiday, or whatever we call it. For us, we had to spend a hell of a lot in order to arrange a town-hall meeting of 500 people or 1,000 people. Now, it has become possible to organize such meetings with only the cost of zoom licenses.
It has also created the opportunity to evade the hassle of commuting in mind-boggling traffic. The sense of working from anywhere has crept in our mind over the last few months, and we aren’t very unhappy about it.
The e-commerce businesses have boomed. If I remember correctly, we were really struggling to improve our e-commerce businesses.
But many such businesses could increase their services as well as revenue. We have also seen many new e-commerce companies evolve during the pandemic.
The lockdown has also shown us how we have been impacting our ecology negatively. The environment had some time to breathe while we were at home. Since the factories weren’t emitting poisonous gases and weren’t releasing toxic chemicals into the rivers and canals, we had some time to rethink what we do to the environment that we live in. We had time to rethink our business operations.
I agree that the lockdown has led to massive financial disasters but, at the same time, it has also brought about big changes in how we have been operating to make money. We have realized that we have better options to make money, better ways. Let’s not forget that.
First published in Dhaka Tribune.

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