Empty Suitcase — Remote Working with Aditi Dharmadhikari — Part 2

Podcast Cover designed by Tanya Khosla


Dona Varghese: In Part I of this conversation, we talked a little about how Aditi started working independently and remotely, some of the benefits and challenges of working remotely and how important it is to set your work environment in one’s creative process.

Podcast Cover designed by Tanya Khosla
  • The Hindu has reported that domestic violence complaints are at a 10-year high.
  • In India, we have pretty strongly-defined gender roles. With a separate workplace, a lot of women were able to develop a professional identity that is slightly separate from their personal identity.
  • While you might imagine that a work from home policy might help employees achieve a better work-life balance, it could also drive women back into their kitchens and accentuate a gender bias in society that already exists.
  • Caregiving roles are still traditionally considered as the responsibility of women.
  • Bustle reported, “People are reporting changes in their menstrual cycles, from increased PMS pain and emotions to spotting and unpredictable cycles, since the coronavirus pandemic began. The anecdotes aren’t surprising to OB-GYNs, who point to stress and changes in routine as disruptors of the menstrual cycle. But an irregular cycle can have negative health consequences, especially if it persists, so it’s important to find coping mechanisms for alleviating symptoms and to talk to a healthcare provider.”
  • Reach out to a healthcare provider if required, whether it is a gynecologist or a psychiatrist.
  • Overarching timelines for each project or vertical.
  • “I’ve also started following a 24-hour policy to get back to people’s emails or messages. Even if I’m not able to, I update them quickly on when I can do it back. It helps to stay accountable. I think that’s how you build relationships with clients as well.”

Dona Varghese: Thank you Aditi, for joining us today. We’ve certainly been left with a lot to think about. I think that understanding and accepting the reality of the situation we are in today, and working within our limitations and seeking opportunities to learn at every step of the way, will make sure that we are on the path of self-growth.

When it comes to performing at work, we know that resilience works best as a team. As an individual, even if you’re a high performer — it doesn’t mean you can turn up everyday and provide the same level of performance. So how do we deal with unexpected challenges that a team may be able to come through using their collective strengths?

Turning to science usually gives us some insight. When it comes to building resilience within a team, we turn to social neuroscience — what do we know about how the brain works best? How does your social environment shape the way your brain works? We have underlying social needs that foster either resilience and adaptability or stress and fight or flight response — something Aditi mentioned earlier in the first part of our conversation as well. Becoming aware of how this response works, what fires it up and the science behind it all can help us develop hacks to deal with the challenges we face along the way.

Here’s a breakthrough I learnt about recently: we think people want to be liked, but they need to be needed.

Matt Lieberman is often affectionately referred to as the grandfather of cognitive neuroscience. He did a foundational study, as a part of which a student was put in an FMRI machine, and three people played a simple game of passing the ball between themselves on the screen. When only two players are playing onscreen and the person in the FMRI machine is being excluded, it triggers an interesting response in the brain. Being excluded is like being physically hurt. At the core level, the brain is wired to respond to social exclusion or even the perception of this as a threat.

So we think people want to be liked, but they need to be needed. Definitely a takeaway that can offer value to entrepreneurs and leaders in the digital space, as far as management goes.

As for those of us working independently — don’t be demoralised if you don’t get everything done just as you planned. I think one of the trickiest aspects of working independently is to set high standards for yourself and work towards them but not to be too hard on yourself ultimately.

One of the best things about working in a collaborative network is that we can play to our own strengths. Think of it as a relay — it’s important to be able to pass the baton when required, even if you are not able to perform on a certain day. Build relationships with your colleagues in such a way that you can take turns taking responsibility. Build resilience — both individually and collectively.

There is an urgent need for a more empathetic, inclusive and sustainable way of life — and building this ‘new normal’ is something we’re committed to — we’re all buckled up and in it for the long haul!

So that brings us to the end of our first episode of Empty Suitcase. Tune in next month for our conversation with Paulina and Jana of Good Intentions, another collaborative network that crafts design solutions for companies.

Catch you next month! Stay safe, stay sane.

Podcast Cover designed by Tanya Khosla

Special thanks to our production team Kalee & Meghna



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