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As she settled down to work from home when India announced a lockdown in March due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Shweta Andrews thought exultantly “this is the way to go.” After all she no longer had to do the grinding commute between office and home in the Indian capital that took up two hours daily.
Two months on, the digital editor of a publishing house is nostalgic about that ride. “I miss my colleagues and believe it or not, I miss travelling in the Metro. I miss the rush. I miss the crowd.”
The unprecedented experiment of work from home that began in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has prompted some Indian companies to explore the possibility of scaling up remote work as they eye long term benefits such as smaller office spaces and lower rentals.
But at a time when a long, stringent lockdown has intensified social isolation, many are finding that an interactive office environment is hard to replace at home.
A New Delhi-based senior professional in a global company, Apoorva Bapna, dismisses the notion that remote work could be the “new normal” and points out that while flexi-hours are welcome, online connections cannot replace the energy generated by professional spaces.
“There is just that much of bouncing of ideas I can do on a video call or a phone call. Sometimes you just need to sit across the table and have that heated conversation or a debate or just exchange ideas,” says Bapna.
India’s Information Technology sector appears to be blazing the trail for adopting the work-at-home model as the industry gears up to have nearly half the country’s four million I-T workers operate remotely – up from an average of 20 percent before March. The country’s biggest technology company Tata Consultancy Services says that it will have 75 percent of its workforce operating from home by 2025.
Some companies that rely heavily on online work could make the shift much sooner because they found it to be an efficient model in the last two months.
“From a purely productivity standpoint, we have seen a fairly smooth transition in work from home,” says Raghav Gupta, managing director, India and Asia Pacific with Coursera, a U.S. based online learning platform. He gives an example. “If I would go to Bangalore and meet two sets of people in a day, I can do five meetings today by sitting at home.”
As India eases its stringent lockdown and offices begin to reopen with a much leaner staff onsite, the debate has begun heating up.
Some assert that the personal touch provided by an office environment cannot be overlooked, even in the IT sector. “You get ready for the day, it is a mental shift you make,” according to Abhimanyu Mukherji, a service delivery manager in New Delhi with a partner company of software organization, SAP. “Just walking up to someone and talking to my team has a different impact. Now there is a loss of human touch and social interaction which we all are so used to.”
While he and his team delivered to their clients’ satisfaction during the lockdown, he points out that working at home from living rooms and dining tables can pose challenges of the kind that some of his team members with young children faced.
“When the kids are at home, they expect a lot of attention from the parents and therefore they are having a lot of difficulty in actually concentrating on the job,” says Mukherji. “The children assume that you must be on leave so you should be giving them all the attention.”
There are also the constraints that living in small apartments or extended families throw up, especially in cities with expensive rentals. “It is not easy for people who live in Bombay, in smaller homes with six to eight family members crammed up in two bedroom homes,” points out Bapna.
And work from home settings can be even more burdensome for women. “We do everything on the house front and we also manage our office work, which is fairly hectic,” says Bapna who was caught in the lockdown in Jaipur city where she was visiting her parents.
Amid the lockdown there have been no comprehensive surveys to indicate which way Indians would prefer going. But a recent survey by a Bengaluru based research firm, Feedback Insights, found that two-thirds of employees were concerned about personal wellbeing, a lack of connectedness with the team and overall anxiety about the job environment. They also cited frequent distractions at home as a key challenge.
However benefits such as savings for companies, less traffic on roads, less pollution and less spending on fuel and daycare will inevitably lead to a greater push for the work-at-home model in the post Covid world.
“By choice and also by planning we will say – you go to office two days a week, you may or may not have a dedicated desk, and the other three or four days you consistently work at home,” says Gupta at Coursera.
But shrinking office spaces, thanks to technology and the new emphasis on social distancing, is something many view with trepidation. Andrews draws an analogy with reading a book on Kindle – it does not replicate the original. “The feeling of holding a book in your hand, that touch, that smell, that personal feeling you get – it’s the same as personal contact in an office,” says Andrews. “So yes technology and computers and zoom and Kindle don’t work as well as interacting with a real human being does.” (VOA)
By Md Waquar Haider
When popular smartphone brands like Xiaomi and realme entered the laptop market in India last year, they were expected to shake the existing giants, specifically under the Rs 50,000 category. However, chip shortage and supply crunch have somewhat dented their plans to make a significant mark to date. According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. The first one is a massive supply crunch in the laptop component market and only big brands are able to get volume and supplies.
The other factor is that the traditional players are very strong in the consumer laptop market. Top 3 players control more than 70 per cent of the market and strong portfolio, distribution, and channel reach as well as brand marketing has helped them massively. "New brands can surely make a dent in the consumer laptop market but are challenged by supply issues right now. Watch out for them in 2022 as and when supply situation eases up," Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Client Devices & IPDS, IDC India told IANS.
Dominated by HP Inc, Lenovo and Dell, the traditional PC market (inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations) in India continued to be robust as the shipments grew by 50.5 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in the second quarter (Q2), according to IDC. Notebook PCs continue to hold more than three-fourth share in the overall category and grew 49.9 per cent YoY in 2Q21, reporting a fourth consecutive quarter with over 2 million units. Desktops also indicated a recovery as shipments grew 52.3 per cent YoY after recording the lowest shipments of the decade in 2Q20.
According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, driven by the pandemic and the associated accelerated pivot to remote work, learn and unwind culture, PCs have been witnessing heightened demand. "Despite the current supply chain constraints, PCs are here to stay in the new never normal. In the run-up to the festive season, established PC market leaders will continue to leverage their brand salience and gain market share," Ram told IANS.
According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. | Photo by Manuel on Unsplash
"On the other hand, there is a niche market for those new market entrants that are able to differentiate themselves from the competition in terms of features and value. "Alongside, they would need to back it with strong brand messaging to create awareness and recall amongst the target consumers," Ram added.
HP maintained its lead in the India PC market with a 33.6 per cent share as its shipments grew 54.2 per cent annually. Dell Technologies continued to hold the second position with a 22.1 per cent share and an impressive 86.1 per cent YoY growth in 2Q21. Lenovo maintained the third position with a share of 17.8 per cent in 2Q21.
Arvind Suraj, Research Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that there is always a trust issue with new brands. "You won't buy a laptop in 6 or 7 months just like smartphones. In this case, we often go for existing players. Brands like Lenovo, HP, ASUS and Acer have already gained our trust," he said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Chip, shortage, laptop, market, India, Xiaomi, hp, dell, brands
A drug used to treat agitation in people with dementia is no more effective than a placebo, and might even increase mortality, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The research, led by researchers at the University of Plymouth, showed that antidepressant mirtazapine offered no improvement in agitation for people with dementia -- and was possibly more likely to be associated with mortality than no intervention at all.
Agitation is a common symptom of dementia, characterized by inappropriate verbal, vocal or motor activity, and often involves physical and verbal aggression. Non-drug patient-centered care is the first intervention that should be offered but, when this doesn't work, clinicians may move to a drug-based alternative.
Agitation is a common symptom of dementia, characterized by inappropriate verbal, vocal or motor activity, and often involves physical and verbal aggression. | Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash
Antipsychotics have proven to increase death rates in those with dementia, along with other poor outcomes, and so mirtazapine has been routinely prescribed. This study was designed to add to the evidence base around its effectiveness. The study recruited 204 people with probable or possible Alzheimer's disease from 20 sites around the UK, allocating half to mirtazapine and half to placebo.
The trial was double-blind; meaning that neither the researcher nor the study participants knew what they were taking. The results showed that there was no less agitation after 12 weeks in the mirtazapine group than in the control group. There were also more deaths in the mirtazapine group (seven) by week 16 than in the control group (only one), with analysis suggesting this was of marginal statistical significance.
"Dementia affects 46 million people worldwide -- a figure set to double over the next 20 years. Poor life quality is driven by problems like agitation and we need to find ways to help those affected," said lead researcher Professor Sube Banerjee, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health at the varsity. "This study shows that a common way of managing symptoms is not helpful -- and could even be detrimental. It's really important that these results are taken into account and mirtazapine is no longer used to treat agitation in people with dementia," Banerjee added. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Depression, antidepressant, dementia, drug, effective, life, health
Digital beauty platform Boddess.com aims to be a disrupter in the Indian beauty market segment offering a curation of products to suit customisation and individual needs. Intime for the festive season, Chandni Goyal, Training Manager at House of Beauty and Boddess, shares a few tricks to see you through endless nights of partying:
* Have fun with colour and sparkle--Move away from blacks and browns and experiment with colours complementing your outfit. The traditional smokey eye can be given a touch of glamour with a dab of glitter eyeshadow in the inner corner of your eyes. It will make your eye make-up pop and will be just what is needed for a festive look.
Move away from blacks and browns and experiment with colours complementing your outfit. | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
* Define your eyes with wing eyeliner--Don't shy from entering the negative space and go all out to draw a bold line to define your eyes and make a statement. Start from the inner corner of the top lid--keep the line thin here, extending along the lash line, going thicker, and finishing with a thick wing towards the outer corner of the eyes.
Don't shy from entering the negative space and go all out to draw a bold line to define your eyes and make a statement. | Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash
* Don't forget the lashes--They can really make or break your entire look. Add a few generous coats of volumizing mascara and if you are a pro, apply false eyelashes for added depth.
Add a few generous coats of volumizing mascara and if you are a pro, apply false eyelashes for added depth. | Photo by Perchek Industrie on Unsplash
* Glossy lips--Glossy lips are big this season. Define your lips with a nude-pink lip liner and fill in the same lip liner all over your lips. Top it up with a clear crystal gloss that gives a glass-like shine and makes your lips look fuller and plumper.
Define your lips with a nude-pink lip liner and fill in the same lip liner all over your lips. | Photo by Nojan Namdar on Unsplash
* For the cheeks--A pop of colour that imparts a flushed, radiant glow will round out your look beautifully. This can be achieved with a cream blush, on the apples of your cheeks, and a layer of highlighter that melts into the skin on your cheekbone. Pinks, peaches and corals are the colours this season.
A pop of colour that imparts a flushed, radiant glow will round out your look beautifully. | Photo by Gursimrat Ganda on Unsplash
(Article originally published on IANS life) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: beauty, party, fashion, makeup, eyeliner, mascara, blush, season, tricks