Lockdown CEO Diaries: There are some CEOs for whom workspace is synonymous with office and Lalit Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director at value retailer V-Mart Retail was certainly one of those. Working from home was never an option for him but then lockdown struck and there wasn’t an alternative other than working remotely.
The sudden shift meant a lot of adjustments and came with its share of hilarious stories. “When it started it was quite odd,” says Agarwal. Since there was no dedicated study at home, he started working at the centre table, then moved to the dining table, and eventually shared his kids’ study table. It wasn’t just physical space, but also the lack of psychological boundaries that took time to get accustomed to. “Often there were sounds of my pet dog barking, other times my kids were making noise or my father coming to ask for something or my wife asking for food during a video call. All such drama used to happen,” he reminisces fondly.
As time passed, routines were formed and so were habits. He created designated spots to work from. “At different times of the day, I work from different places,” he says. In the evenings as the sun sets, he likes to work from his small work table at the balcony that overlooks the golf course. For the office feel, he has carved out a corner in the living room with a white background for formal meetings. The lazy afternoons are spent on a lounge sofa and a lap desk.
In fact, Agarwal took the opportunity of working remotely to travel extensively and aced the “work from anywhere” concept. “Earlier we were stuck in an office environment that we never dared to venture out. But, now there was this opportunity to travel and work at the same time,” he says. He travelled across the length and breadth of the country to places such as Kerala, Maldives, Nainital, Mussoorie, Jaipur, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Alwar amongst others. “I would work during the day and had evenings and weekends to spend time with family members and friends.”
Now as offices are opening, he says he would try to work from home once every two weeks.