‘The living room is the cubicle’

Diwakar Muthu’s workstation at home and the one at his office are poles apart, but he has got the former designed in such as way that it would be a comfortable ally during the long uninterrupted work hours, 10 hours to be precise, that he puts in every day. Muthu and his family, who live at an apartment complex in Sholinganallur, moved their dewan to the bedroom to accommodate an antique teakwood work table that they shopped for, a day before the Janata Curfew in March.

“Even before the lockdown began his office had asked him to start working from home. Due to an inconvenient chair and table, within five days, his neck started hurting and we had to make some arrangement,” says Vidhya, Diwakar’s wife, adding that they shopped for three days to find the perfect work table.

Diwakar is comfortable sitting on a bare wooden chair although he misses the office chair that could be adjusted.

“I have ensured the laptop does not sit too low and hurt my neck,” says Diwakar.

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‘I miss my office chair’

S.G. Patnaik is investing in a home office in instalments. Just before the lockdown, he bought a table that would fit into his living room, in a corner where there is sufficient light to keep him alert for long working hours. “Initially, we thought it was for a few weeks and could manage with whatever set-up one had at home, We realised that you had to find what best suited you or your back and neck would go for a toss,” says the resident of Perumbakkam.

His office had shipped the monitor and laptop home, but he was missing his easy chair from office.

To break the monotony of sitting at one place for long, Patnaik shifts from the living room to the bedroom and to the balcony. “I have a small arrangement in the balcony that can hold my laptop and where I can work in the evenings getting some cool breeze,” he says.

With the probability of working from office being remote until the end of this year, Patnaik, who works with a global energy and petrochemical company, has started browsing for a WFH office. And, yes, the ergonomic chair is on the list.

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The library moves to the study room

Nisha Singhvi’s Red Planet, a library-cum-activity centre for children at Vepery, has a new address: her home. Her children’s study room is her temporary office. The move is significant because although children don’t get to borrow and lend books because of the lockdown, from the comfort of her home she is engaging children in various activities including storytelling.

As she cannot open the centre, Nisha is now forced to reinvent herself. Every Saturday, from 2.30 to 5.30 p.m. she does a host of activities for children of various age groups.

“I have over 30 children joining in batches of 10 each,” says Nisha. She says children get distracted easily by looking at their surroundings (here it is a zoom session), so I allow them to wander through my library of books at home and toys before drawing them towards activities.

“I have tried to bring a similar atmosphere like Red Planet at my home too with a shelf for books, board games and a desk and chair,” says Nisha. She has also been adding to the books from the library into her home collection. “I also circulate these books among the children at the apartment,” she adds.

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