The coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives upside down. Both at work and at home. Many of us have ditched habits built over a lifetime because of the lockdown—and adopted new habits instead. Social distancing, working from home, and virtual learning have become the new normal as people work from their dining tables and bedrooms the world over to stop the virus from spreading.

We at Harappa decided to ask some of our faculty about their lockdown learnings, how they’d adapted, and the new habits they’d adopted over the past few months. More specifically, which of Harappa’s five Habits—Lead, Solve, Collaborate, Think, Communicate—did they rely on most during the lockdown? Will they stick to the new habits after the lockdown? And where do they see the world of work heading? 

First up, we have Nivedita Singh, a counselor and co-founder of Co-Create Change (COCH), talking about the habits she’s developed and how she has tackled some setbacks. Nivedita tells us about the importance of collaboration, how she’s adopted the habit of prioritizing, planning, and scheduling during the lockdown, and much more. Read on for more: 

Q1. What is the one Harappa Habit—Think, Solve, Communicate, Collaborate, Lead—that you think you have relied most on in this lockdown?

The one Harappa habit I have relied on the most in this period is Communicate … especially listening deeply. The experience has reinforced my knowledge of active listening being the best and purest form of empathy. It helps strengthen the most fragile of bonds and has a calming effect on others as well as one’s own self.

Q2. If you were to recommend one Habit young professionals should hone in this period and in the time to come, what would it be and why?

All the habits are interdependent parts of being an effective whole. But if I was to pick one, I would choose Collaborate because when two or more heads pool in their resources, ideas, creativity, strengths, and competencies together, the outcome is exponentially higher with the efforts getting halved and shortcomings and deficits getting compensated. 

Q3. What are the three good professional skills that you've adopted in this phase?

The three skills I have adopted and/or honed are prioritizing, planning and scheduling, and being assertive (saying no). 

Q4. What is the one most exciting change in this period for you professionally?

The one good exciting change for me professionally is being able to seamlessly conduct my client sessions and training online. My colleagues at COCH have been working hard to transfer our entire database and toolkit to an online interactive interface, which is extremely exciting and enriching. Also, our client base has grown multi-fold with people from across the globe seeking us out for sessions during these taxing times.

Q5. There is a lot of focus on lifelong learning, unlearning, and relearning in the world of work today. What would you say have been the top learnings for you in this period? And what have you unlearned and had to relearn/adapt?

The top learnings have been the new science of psychotherapy that I have been able to make time to hone. This particular form of therapy believes in tools, not schools of therapy, and is scientific evidence-based and data-driven. There’s a paradigm shift in looking at problems as something that is quantifiable and treatable and begins with blowing away the client’s subconscious resistance by bringing it to conscious awareness.

I have had to unlearn the default setting I had of looking at therapy as a process where we stayed with a client’s feelings for weeks on end and attributed their problems to some or the other life skill deficit or to growing-up issues. 

The relearning is the fresh emphasis on the role of empathy which is crucial for effective communication and has a framework that makes it easy to apply and monitor. 

Q6. Did you have any specific setback while working from home? If so, what was it, and how have you overcome it?

The one specific setback professionally has been that my company Cocreate Change had worked tirelessly and I had visited Boston in December last year and we had managed a tie-up with Harvard Medical School and Harvard McLean Hospital to partner together for events in Delhi in March and September 2020. Both have had to be called off. It was and still is a huge honor for us and, though extremely disappointed, we are keeping our fingers crossed that it happens sometime in the future.

Q7. What are some of the big changes your organization has made during the lockdown?

There are the usual changes of transferring tests, templates, and toolkits online.

I also make sure I have some exciting news for my work colleagues who are mostly youngsters. We give them surprise day-offs in the middle of the week and love their smiles of pure delight. We also gift each of them one ‘paid-for webinar’ by an industry expert which they then have to present to the rest of us. Other than that, we have started to allow them access to paid online resources based on task completion by the deadlines agreed upon. It’s important to keep up their motivation and make sure they don’t get burnt out as our entire life has changed. They, and their family members, are also treated to free therapy sessions with me if they want.

With virtual learning being the new normal now, you can improve your writing skills with Harappa's Writing Proficiently Course. Learn how to structure and write work related documents clearly with these online courses and make your world of work better.

Nivedita Singh was interviewed by Suha Gangopadhyay who is a Specialist in the Curriculum team at Harappa Education.

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