Tough times, unprecedented times, uncertain times, scary times…lately, these sentiments have somehow become common. Finding a silver lining amidst all this chaos has been a challenge. It’s in times like these when the world around us is moving at a whirlwind speed that we need to take a pause and slow down. None of us were prepared to battle a situation so complicated and difficult; which is why it’s important, now more than ever, to preserve our mental health and find our center. Last month, the Radicals took a five-day wellness break to pause, breathe, and re-energize. However, we knew that just a five-day break wouldn’t be enough for sustained wellness in these times. To truly be radical and do meaningful work while managing a collective health crisis, we need to be calm and balanced. With that in mind, we made some more adjustments in our day-to-day work to give our team the time and space they need to do phenomenal work and to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Here’s a note I penned down to the team but this is a message to anyone who’s looking for a way to maintain mental, emotional, and physical well-being in these times. Dear friends,  Our group companies have taken the step to temporarily reduce the daily working hours to 6 hrs/day, constituting a 1/3 reduction in working hours. We hope this additional time will provide the necessary relief needed for everyone to manage through the challenges we face while navigating life with the city locked down and ravaged by the pandemic.  In addition, the HR and Facilities team have been tasked to prioritize providing complete support to those who are directly impacted by the pandemic. The effort has been relentless and multi-layered, spanning from medical logistics to attempts to secure hospital beds. We should all take a moment to thank the team, and recognize how mentally draining it can be to handle one medical emergency after another, and be faced with many disappointments as the availability of every resource runs dry.  When it comes to working hours, I have long believed that it is a concept unfitting to an ‘idea enterprises’ or any creative work for that matter, and better left to the factory floors from which it originates. In a marketing organization such as ours, it’s the creative spark that is the most valued commodity, and we all know creativity can strike at places and times least expected.  We have generally never attempted to keep track of the hours spent or attempted to use it as a metric to measure individual performance. This does not mean that we do not value hard work – quite to the contrary – we value earnest hard work and devotion and recognize that outcomes and impact matter more than inputs and outputs.
After all, a creative spark can also be realized through a dedicated bias towards action, and the ability to execute well.  
The primary purpose of this note is to encourage everyone to ‘invest’ this time in a way that truly serves you all. Time is the only resource that once lost can never be regained so we ought to spend it wisely.

1. Self-Nourishment:

Health: There is literally nothing more important than your health. So first and foremost ensure you take the time to make yourselves healthy. That includes both physical health and mental health.    Physical health: When it comes to physical health there is no excuse to not work out 3-4 times a week for an hour. That is just 2.4% of your time. There’s no better return on your time than by spending 2.4% of it in some form of a workout. There are tons of excellent instructional workout videos of all types available for free online. Like any habit, this one too takes a little bit of time to form; but once it does, it can lift your overall effectiveness and quality of your life.  In addition to this, try and incorporate one hour of walking at least five times a week. One way to achieve this without much effort is to take some of your work calls over the phone, so you can walk around or inside your apartment without needing to set aside dedicated time for the same. Set yourself a goal of 10k steps per day and strive hard to achieve it.    Mental health: Mental health issues are by far the most ignored due to the social stigma that comes attached to them. Especially during these times, it’s extremely important to pay close attention to your mental well-being. The one recommendation I can offer to improve mental health is by incorporating some form of meditation into your daily routine. I’m really new to meditation myself but have taken some time to research it which has convinced me of its transformational impact.  Should anyone feel the need to discuss possible doubts or concerns over this critical area of their overall health, please reach out to the HR team without hesitation. They will try and provide the necessary professional counsel. In addition, if there is assistance you need in trying to find focus in a highly distracting environment, please reach out to your manager or HR for help.   

2. Personal development

Make learning and development a part of your daily routine. Any sort of learning is helpful – whether it be delivered through books, podcasts, Ted Talks, online courses, or structured classes. For many of us who have identified a set of soft or hard skills aimed at higher levels of career growth, take up a structured course. We live in a golden era where quality education material is more widely available at our fingertips than ever before. Providing access to structured programs has been a key strategic initiative for the organization.   As we’ve already started to do, more generic skills training with wider applicability will be conducted through group workshops, but if there are more specific skills that are unavailable through Udemy or Degreed, please approach your manager, they will work with the Learning  & Development team to make it available.   There is no greater investment you can make than the investment you make in yourself. And here the only investment required is time. I urge you to take this time to look inwards and do what’s necessary to find your focus and calm. The world outside is not in our control but what we can do is choose how to react to it. I wish you all good health. Sandeep Ramchandani