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Opinion and Editorial

Remote working: Holding the family at ransom

Bikram Vohra
Filed on July 11, 2020

It is probably fine for a short while but as an alternate to going to work it is like my friend's mother said, a massive imposition

Most of us do not live in five bedroom houses with east and west wings and a retinue of domestics to do our bidding. Most of us, especially lower rung corporate underlings live in two or three rooms in which the swing of a cat is suspect. The great remote experiment is therefore in the longterm becoming the equivalent of holding the family at gunpoint.

A message from a friend of mine says his mother, who stays with them, perched herself into an official video call with his boss when she overheard her son being castigated for too much noise in the background. And, much to the son's horror, ticked off the boss.

She said, this is our home, there will be noises, the pressure cooker will hiss, the vacuum will roar, the children will cry and shout, the TV will run and the doorbell might ring. You see, with all respect, you are coming into our home and we will try and make it as comfortable as possible to create a work environment but the home cannot come to a freezing halt. Thing is, how I see it, the office is invading our home and causing huge amounts of stress for everyone.

My friend is mortified with his mother because it happened so suddenly before he could intercede and now he is sure his boss will hold it against him. In thousands of home the same scene is being replayed.

Perhaps not with such a forceful Mum but the scenario unfolds much the same way from Dubai to Dublin, Delhi to Durban. Working man or working woman says I have a concall (conference call) at 11 everyone, it is a very important one so hold the sounds. Everyone goes into hush hush mode, the telly is switched off, the mobiles are muted, the kids are told to shut up or else, the kitchen door is shut firmly, and for the next hour or two the family is held at ransom.

In all the articles that have been coming out in print and on social platforms extolling the virtues of remote working, this aspect of making the family hostage has not really been discussed. If you gut the domestic chore window by four to six hours and in cases where both parents are working, even more, how is the house going to run smoothly if it runs at all.

It is probably fine for a short while but as an alternate to going to work it is like my friend's mother said, a massive imposition. The wife is irate because lunch is waiting and husband is waiting for his boss to finish the meeting and the family is waiting to eat and that is all there is in heaps.waiting.

Then we have working mothers who have the same problem of being on call besides educating their children by e-learning.and do not forget there is dinner to be made.

As for bachelors sharing a room, do not even go there.

Then there is the post-call postmortem. Who slammed the door. Why was the dog barking. Whose mobile phone rang so shrilly. Do not send tea to me when the boss is on zoom.

Okay, fine, silence everyone, do not move, dad is online.and we are off colour. 


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