Since you're at home

With India under lockdown till (at least) April 15, there’s time on people’s hands and a surge in messages and posts about both coronavirus and the Working from Home (WFH) phenomenon.

As someone who’s been operating a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) since 2002, I think I’m eminently qualified to comment on WFH. So, here are a few tips on the subject.

Of course, the nature of your work should allow you to work by interacting with others by phone or online and not something that requires your physical presence.

First, follow a routine: Bathe and change, have breakfast (or not), and designate a time to sit down at your desk every day. Check your mails and messages and respond as required. Make a “to-do” list for the day and check off the tasks accomplished as the day progresses.

Second, have your workspace: a place separate from your bed or bedroom where you will work from. Make it clear to others in your home that you are not to be disturbed here —  I physically close the door to the rest of my flat. A desk and comfortable chair is worth investing in — although one person I know uses his laptop standing up, on the principle that this is better for both the neck and knees.

Third, ensure that your infrastructure is appropriate: Is your wi-fi speed good enough, do you have a flatbed scanner-printer for those documents, does your software allow you to operate seamlessly (Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro works for me), and how about an UPS for when the power goes?

Fourth, get enough exercise: Take a break every hour — walk around, get a cup of tea or coffee, chat with others in your home (if there’s anyone), play a video game. In the current situation (where even public parks have been closed) make time to exercise at least 20 minutes each morning and evening: bending and stretching, calisthenics, abdominals, skipping or cardio, yoga; whatever combination is good for you.

Last: have a cut-off time: Designate a time for finishing with the day’s work, after which you will not be working on the laptop. Use the time saved from not commuting in creative ways: Reading, painting, playing music, chatting with friends, whatever. Learn to cook, express yourself gastronomically (Guys — are you listening?).

Of the supplies laid down in anticipation of a lockdown, the wine I’m currently enjoying is the Querciabella Mongrana 2016.

Whatever else happens during the lockdown upto April 14, it’s given rise to a whole industry of coronavirus watching: We are obsessed with numbers, here and elsewhere. There’s also a growing tribe of doomsayers about the economic consequences of the pandemic and its attendant downsides of decline and even recession.

The only solution: Be safe, and have a positive attitude.

Wines I’ve been drinking: Of the supplies laid down in anticipation of a lockdown, the wine I’m currently enjoying is the Querciabella Mongrana 2016. Querciabella (“Beautiful Oak Tree”) is a 50 year-old bio-dynamic winery with 74 hectares of vineyards in the heart of the Chianti Classico area of Tuscany, Italy.

The 2016 Mongrana comes from vineyards on the Maremma coastal area and is a blend of 50 per cent Sangiovese, 25 per cent Merlot, and 25 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. James Suckling gives this wine a massive 95 points (“Outstanding”). Priced at Rs 3,123, it one of the best-value wines available. It’s complex, fruity, floral and spicy all at the same time and a must-try when retail shops re-open.

Alok Chandra is a Bengaluru-based wine consultant


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