The motivational advice on how to maintain a 'balance between work and life' was lost in the jargon itself, in the face of mindless competition. Professionals were also advised not to bring official tasks home to maintain peace and tranquility. Such advice led them to spend long hours at workplaces.
Suddenly, all have reverted to the seemingly pre-industrial style of working at the place of shelters. Only a few months ago, until the pandemic has swept the world, no pundit could even believe it was possible for millions of office-goers to work without physical presence.
Is it working from home only? Since people are quarantined for preventing coronavirus, it is said so. Even when the pandemic mercifully ceases to be, professionals may not go to office in large numbers, thanks probably to new culture of saving time and cost. They may not always stay at home - it may be called working from distance, similar to distance learning or carrying out outsourced assignments.
As the culture is evolving under the compulsion of Covid-19, it's all about working from home. While people have, in the initial months of lockdown, found the occasion to give quality time to family members, work is increasingly eating into the supposed leisure hours.
People have no recess from telephone conversation, meeting or classes online, responding to emails, and sitting in front of computers, except when sleeping, which is often disrupted for lack of physical movement.
Such a situation reminds us of the life in Bangladeshi villages only a few decades ago. Women, who lived mainly in their homesteads throughout their life, had to work all day. Men and boys, too, had to settle in their living compounds for 4-5 months around the monsoon in the marshy areas of the country.
The young generation today may think their forefathers had a monotonous life in that situation but in reality it was not so. Those days, people engaged in recreational activities in adda, singing or playing on high land, sewing kuntha (blanket) or preparing pittha (traditional cake), renovating houses, and sometimes visiting relatives hiring a home-like boat. They loved their works and tried almost everything that was possible in that society that, of course, had want of the things that are available today.
However, division of labour and commercialisation of various activities of life have in a way made people equipped with a fewer number of skills. That gap has been exposed when many urban residents failed to cook diverse food items during the shutdown.
Internet has ensured that they are connected to the market, through buying online, and the world of entertainment, on the worldwide web. Still, they falter in overcoming the challenges of living within a limited space in a city. Solution to such problem is not there in the longing for going back to the past. In the post-corona period, this generation may have to take up a new challenge - separating home from office works to do justice to both.
The current crisis has given individuals the scope for soul-searching, from their loss in the tyranny of selected collectivism that excluded others.
It's now the turn of each man and woman to not just cope with the situation but to learn what they learned from hands-on training. They would need to replace the monotony with care and too much engagement outside with quality time for near and dear ones. They would be required to improve the level of communications from distance and find comfort in a lifestyle instead of stress when they have to work.
There is no reason to assume our society will wither away on account of this pandemic. How we can rebuild society with better modes of socialisation and collective welfare may be the next challenge for us.