Notes from office

How much Covid19 has changed our world! I never imagined that I will ever see a time when we must wear masks before stepping out of our homesthis is indeed surreal. I hope we can get out of this dreaded situation soon, and as the cliched saying goes, let us hope that this too shall pass.

So, how have you been coping? I hope this situation has given you a chance to reassess and organize your life a bit better, and to pamper yourself a bit?

Well, with no travel possible, I thought I would recollect one fun event we had conducted in office just before the lock-down began. I hope it will be interesting and of use to some of you.

A fun event in office

I am part of the ‘Innovation group’ in office, and one of the events we planned as part of a series was ‘Open Mic Fun-days’. The idea was to use comedy as a vehicle to discuss touchy issues, to plant some fresh thoughts and to present useful ideas. Even though the topics we would be handling were of serious nature, we wanted the delivery to be fresh and entertaining. So, we chose a format of delivery that resembled stand-up comedy. Since we would be broaching topics that were sober in nature, it was going to be akin to the format of TED talks as well. Hence we gave a tagline for the event as: ‘Not a Stand-up comedy. Not a TED talk. Something in between’.

The run-up and D-Day

As a run-up to the event, we sent out emails and put up digital posters on displays in common areas. On the D-day, we set up the lighting in the venue like that in a theater, with only certain spotlights on the stage being lit.

The audience trickled in and we started off nervously, on time. DJ Dx oversaw running the slides, and the sounds. P and D were in charge of delivering the material. Five minutes into the session, the room was three-fourths fulland we were elated; for we were expecting only like, five people to attend?.

The material

Here’s a quick list of what we covered in the session:

  • To make people think of why we were following some of the (borderline weird) office rules and to understand the reasoning behind them:
    • we ran a video of people’s responses to our question on the genesis of the rule
    • spoke about The Five Monkeys Experiment and ran a video on it:

    • explained the rationale behind the rule
  • We then moved on to topics related to Design, and covered:
    • Don Norman and his book: The Design of Everyday Things
    • design related observations from our own office (yes, we do have Don Norman doors in our office)
    • concepts of Addictive design and Unethical design
    • a fun poll on shape of our next office building
  • We then covered the topic of salary, and correlated it with a fun index that we created (one that was very relatable to the audience)
  • We then moved on to productivity related myth busters, covering
    • the recent experiments around the work with 4-day work week (check out the Microsoft one) and
    • discussion on whether the ‘Open office’ design really helps improve productivity
  • We spoke about why the company was stressing so much on the need for re-skilling and ran a video of Simon Sinek’s famous talk – How great leaders inspire action to reiterate some of the ideas around communication and inspiring action
  • Finally, we wound up with a poll on whether we should continue the event, and whether the presenters should get a raise (in jest of course).

The session was a massive success – a fact validated by the huge audience turn out, healthy interactions and the final judgement from them on whether we should continue doing such shows.

The lock-down

We were thinking of our next show when, as my friend smiling Buddha often puts it: tragedy struck the happy family –our offices were shut down due to the Covid19 situation.

Back in office

After about a month and a half of shut down, our office opened with limited capacity from last week. It felt good walking into the office and seeing smiling faces of friends again (well, the masks made it difficult to really know if they were smiling, but I assume they were :)). The good friends in HR also did a short interview with me about my feelings about coming back to office and published it in our office network. Here it is, for your reading pleasure:

Interview with Sampath Menon

Maybe I will cover some of the interesting people, events and books I came across during the lock-down in my next post. Please do leave your thoughts and comments about this post below.

2 thoughts on “Notes from office”

  1. Sampath the write up is the true you yourself of being simple and straight forward. The last line in your HR interview where in you detail about stop competing, comparing and start being human is the message which the world needs in corporates, schools, family life and between friends so that we all have a better and peaceful place to live in consensus with each other. Lets be companionate to our colleagues, friends, family and all in society irrespective of the job positions, financials, shortfalls she/he has.

  2. Thanks a lot dear friend Chira…dying to visit your farm da…hope to make it after all this is over. Hope alls well with you and family..

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