Hello, do I know you?

Updated: May 03, 2020, 08:30 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

You know the spouse but do you know the professional? Couples reveal what they are discovering about their partner's work personality during WFH

Laura Norkin, deputy editor with a US-based women's magazine, sent Twitterverse aflutter with her tweet when she said she had learnt that her husband is the person who says 'let's circle back' during meetings. "A funny thing about quarantining is hearing your partner in full work mode for the first time. Like, I'm married to a "let's circle back" guy—who knew?" she said, before it was retweeted 52k times, and got over 3k comments.

And it turns out that Mumbai's professionals are coming to terms with their own revelations.

'She has a fun side to her at work'

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Niraj Bora on Mansi Bora
Chartered accountant

It is an unusual situation that I'm trying to sail through with Mansi, who is also a chartered accountant and is currently a functional consultant for a software firm. I haven't seen her manage her team since we haven't worked together. She is more organised than I imagined. Her work is clear, sorted, and better managed than mine. I envy her ability to pack in some fun between work, joke with her girl gang from office. And she does this while also watching over the house in the absence of house help.

Niraj is a chartered accountant and founder and director of Surmount Business Advisors

Mansi says: It feels good to know that he appreciates my skills and understands how I have to juggle responsibilities. There is indeed a silver lining to this lockdown.

'He is a smiling boss'

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Geeta Ramakrishnan on Ramesh Ramakrishnan
Chairman, Transworld Group of Companies

Ramesh and I have been married for 35 years and know each other inside out. Isn't that what one would expect? Thirty-five years mean about 3,00,000 hours spent together. But, with teacher COVID-19 doling out life lessons, work from home being one, I made a shocking discovery about him.

He gets up early, follows it up with his morning fitness routine, some spiritual time, a rushed breakfast, before zooming off to work as if there is a reward hanging for the one who makes it to office first. After that, it's all work with a rushed lunch somewhere in between. Once he is back, his head is buried inside the phone with a legit excuse that shipping is a 24x7 business.

Since the lockdown, our bedroom is his office. While I have avoided going there, when I once tip-toed past his study, I noticed something strange. He had turned his swivel office chair to face the window, and was watching the birds chirping. I thought he needed a break from his busy schedule. But, wait, every time? Each time I quietly walked past, he was in a similar position.

And one morning, he looked at me tip-toeing and said, "I am going to make the best lunch in the world for you" and true to his word, it was. This is not the husband I know or imagined would be in office. With the business taking a downward dip, I was dreading someone stressed, attending calls, and not the smiling boss that I see.

When I brought it up, we had a good laugh. He said that he had been mulling a change in lifestyle and the lockdown gave him that push to relook at things, take stock. He said it was literally the first time he has noticed the clear blue sky with interesting patterns of clouds and birds on the Gulmohar trees.

Geeta is ontological coach and author of The Game of Change: My Zen Steps to Unleash Success, Balance and Happiness

Ramesh says: My engagement as a leader involves planning, strategising, and enabling people. Over the course of time, with all the responsibilities, my work style became rigid, negatively impacting my ability to be creative and lead. The lockdown gave me the forced break to see a different perspective, to think calmly, and have me realise that sulking or being anxious is of little use. I've been spending time working, cooking for Geeta and enjoying living the moment.

'He wants a bite-sized snack every few hours'

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Bhavna Sharma on Siddhesh Sharma
President, Baidyanath, and founder and CEO, Naturedge Beverages Pvt. Ltd.

Siddhesh heads an FMCG brand, while my brand falls under the essential healthcare product category. The impact of the lockdown is quite different on both industries, which impacts our daily schedules as well. Professionally, we've been able to discuss and deliberate things more lucidly. He's a balanced personality and his work persona is an extension of this. But what I didn't know was that he needs to snack on something every one hour when he's working—well-curated but tiny portions that are healthy, tasty and flavourful. Honestly, who has the time to do this?

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And if he has to take an important call, he will do it in a nook or cranny. I was looking for him the other day with our dog in tow and finally found him in the family lounge, in a corner. When he spotted me, I got the glare. Now, we are forbidden from entering.

Bhavna is the CEO of Cureveda, a plant-based herbal and organic supplements brand

Siddhesh says: I like to be thoroughly focused while I am on work calls. I hate distractions and don't like anything breaking my chain of thought. That's exactly what happens when Bhavna prances into the room with our overly excited pup, Simba.

'He likes being in top gear, giving flying instructions'

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Savita Hon on Karan Hon
Co-founder of agritech startup Farmpal, an app-based platform that eliminates middlemen in the farm-to-fork chain

There are two types of people; those who want an easy life and, second, who want to make others's life easy. Karan falls in the second category. The collateral damage in this case is the spouse. Since the lockdown, our home has been converted into a virtual office and the house is ringing with startup jargon—gross, net profit and targets. It's pretty much the same discussion daily.

I've realised Karan is a boss, who likes to keep changing gear throughout the day and mostly stay at top gear, and continuously offer instructions over the phone.

But I think he may be slowly beginning to thaw.

Savita is a school teacher.

Karan says: As they say, the wife is always right, and in my case she is. I can be quite the robot. That said, I've begun noticing that Savita has tremendous patience to manage the kids and keep the house in order. I need to apply that to my professional life to become a true leader.

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