Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Viral Diaries

Viral Diaries: "I chat a lot less and get more done"

A peek into the Work-From-Home day plan of FCB Ulka's chief creative officer Swati Bhattacharya.

If there was just ONE piece of advice you could give people in the media/marketing business right now, what would that be?

The biggest advice, for now, is to stay at home, and the next would be to take care of the elders in the family.

Which app/tool are you using to video conference with your team/clients? And what’s your go-to option for file sharing?

I am a bit technologically challenged, and usually get someone else to do the files and slide sharing bit. I was judging the ANDYs awards and I discovered Zoom, since the judging was online. It seems a lot better, since I can see everybody’s faces.

How are you dividing up your work day? Give us a sense of how you’re managing your time and what your work-from-home routine is like.

The day is scheduled all around meetings. The time left in-between is the nice bit. That’s when I have a chat with my daughter, or play with my pet beagle Zazu, or eat something nice. You can punctuate your day so much better when you’re working from home.

What do you miss most about office?

Meeting people.

Swati with her pet beagle Zazu.
Swati with her pet beagle Zazu.

Ideally, how frequently should a team leader/manager check in on her/his team? Any long distance people management tips?

When you come on a call, you spend the first few minutes to know how each one of us is doing. Before the meeting starts, you can look at the faces and make (figure) out how they are doing. That’s, in a way, very important.

The interactions are all organic. These things are best left organic, and shouldn’t be turned into a process. It’s more like parenting, and you should be always available for calls, instead of going around digging information. Right now, the most important thing for me is, I should be accessible. It could be for work, or just a chat.

Also, I don’t like it when people turn off the video during video calls. It’s nice to look at everybody’s faces, whichever part of the house they are speaking from. I like it if the children walk in, or some food arrives. There’s a sense of intimacy in there.

Lastly, what’s the one thing you see yourself doing differently once the work-from-home phase ends? To rephrase, what’s the biggest lesson here, for you?

I am actually really liking it. I chat a lot less and get more done. Our jobs, and this business, is about people and people interaction. Whether you are calling them from home or office or a landline or an app, it’s the quality of interaction. I don’t care about how you’re doing it. Previously, if somebody had told me to work from home for 21 days, I would have thought that it was impossible and can’t be done.

Once this phase ends, a lot of things would have changed, say, how much travel is necessary, and what are the things that can actually happen without you sitting on a plane. When people are working from home, you are also trusting them more, making them more responsible. That’s what is pushing people to think positively, to think better, and to do more. I don’t think one person, or even team, is doing less than what they would have done when at work.

Viral Diaries is a series of special interviews, a daily peek into how advertising, media and marketing professionals are dealing with working from home in these trying times.

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