Antoine Gross
May 8, 2020

WFH diary: desk dilemmas, home schooling trials and Zoom overload

Impact's Antoine Gross discovers the good, the bad and a new kind of WFH (wine from home) socialising.

WFH diary: desk dilemmas, home schooling trials and Zoom overload

Who am I

Antoine Gross, general manager for SEA at Impact—a Frenchman living in Singapore.

Recalibrating

If I’m honest, I embraced the first few days of lockdown. No more commute, more time with the family and more time to myself. Then, a few days later it reality hit hard, and everything seemed out of whack. So I set about creating a new routine that included many of my usual activities—workout sessions organised by my coach and friend Paolo de Barros, team meetings, client calls, and thinking time. It was like pressing the reset button to return to factory settings and create a new work/home life paradigm. 

This ‘new normal’ is going pretty well so far, and I have a new habit of going running every evening (largely driven by my wife who has decided she will be the sole evening chef and doesn’t like an audience or my ‘helpful’ input). There are still some days that feel a bit like Groundhog Day though. 

Desk dramas

For better or worse, we didn’t expect the lockdown in Singapore to come so quickly. When the announcement was made we went deep into 'panic buying' mode. Nope, not toilet paper, pasta or masks but a desk! We needed an extra one but so, it seemed, did everyone else in Singapore, and panic set in at the thought of having to set up my office on the ironing board. Fortunately, we saw that a KOL was promoting a homewares store on Instagram and we made our purchase. I hope he was able to track the conversion, because he certainly helped us find our brand-new desk… and if not, get in touch! 

Finding my groove

Anyone who knows me will tell you that music is a huge passion in my life and I’m continuously listening to playlist after playlist. As much as my family indulges my passion, they aren’t keen to listen to my tracks 24/7 so I’ve been bunkering down in my bedroom (now office) where I have free musical reign. It feels like I’m living part of my student days again. Not the part with the endless parties, but the one where you constantly had to revise for upcoming exams and there were very few boundaries between your home and your work life. 

Zoom overload

So. Many. Zoom calls. 

Between my two kids (8 and 11), my wife and myself we are almost always online and on a video call. One of the small things I’ve enjoyed doing whilst on all these video calls is to upload different virtual backgrounds that go hand in hand with the music genre I’ve chosen for that particular day. (I can already picture the ‘how embarrassing is Dad’ look on my daughters’ faces when they read this). 

Teacher’s pet

Another positive I’ve noticed in isolation is how great it is to be more involved in my kid’s schooling. But I also quickly realised that teaching is not my vocation in life. In all seriousness, I’m even more in awe of, and grateful for, all of the teachers out there. I hope that this experience means that our society places more value on them as they help shape the future of our society. 

Family ties

Of course, like everybody else I miss the weekend with my friends, eating out and sipping some good French wine at LQV, but it’s great to be able to hang with my family and really connect with them. The weekend wine still happens but it’s now often accompanied by popcorn and a movie or using the HouseParty app to speak to friends. The positive outcome from this situation is the extra time we get to bond as a family, playing board games, getting to join in on online dance classes, cycling and walking—not to mention I have more time to also connect with my family back in France.

Gratitude

Ultimately, when I think about the uncertain times we’re living in, I’m incredibly grateful that my family and I can work from the safety and sanctuary of our home and avoid the very real and present danger outside. I’m also grateful that my team is healthy, safe and resilient, and together we’re all very thankful for the Impact leadership team who continue to lead through this crisis with empathy, compassion and grace.

I look forward to the day that I can arrange our next team dinner and thank everyone for weathering this storm together.

And finally, I’m indebted to all of our essential workers who have to venture out each day to help keep our country running. To help them, and as Radiohead advised, Keep your distance Then no harm will come.

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