This Is My Family: A Boss And An Employee Living Together During Lockdown
In This Is My Family, we explore alternative family structures and the institution of marriage in India.
My boss and I were on a work visit to Dubai to oversee the construction of a project that was to last anywhere between 15 and 30 days, starting mid-February. Although Covid19 cases had already started increasing in the country, and most companies had taken to working from home, we continued to visit the site for as long as it was allowed but ultimately, they announced a two-week complete lockdown which kept getting extended. Back home, around the same time, the government banned international flights.
This meant that we were stuck there without knowing when we’d be able to leave. We thought it was better for us to leave the hotel and rent a studio apartment, not only because it was going to be safer, but also to save the company from paying a huge bill. Luckily, we found one, and a day before all movement was going to be restricted, we were settled into this apartment.
At first, it was very awkward to share the same house with my boss. He’s a nice and jovial man, but you can never be at ease when bosses are around. I kept thinking about how I’d have to be disciplined at home and do everything on time. Would I ever be able to get off work? Would I be able to wake up late on weekends? Would everything be about work? I only had these kinds of questions pop up in my head when we first moved in.
And then one day, I woke up to find him sweeping the house. And the next minute, he was doing the dishes. I felt really embarrassed and apologized to him for waking up late but he said there was absolutely no need to think that he was my boss at home. He told me let’s live like brothers. That made everything feel normal.
We divided all the housework equally and of course, I realized he’d have a lot more office work than me so I tried to take up all the time-consuming and difficult chores such as washing clothes, mopping, and cooking. He said he’s used to helping with chores at home and managing children so none of this would be new to him.
Related on The Swaddle:
From Sunday to Thursday, most of the day is consumed by office work and there’s hardly any time to meet outside of work. Weekends are dedicated to grocery shopping, family time and catching up on movies with him.
Had it not been for this experience with him, I’d have never known how fiercely possessive he is about his team and how he can go to any levels to protect all the members. Although he tries to be discreet about his discussions with his seniors and doesn’t disclose too much about what is happening at the top level, on some days, it’s possible to listen to the discussions because the house is small. I’ve heard him defend us, and take care of all the things we have messed up. I’ve realized how empathetic he actually is and is willing to listen to all our problems.
This has been a major learning experience in a lot of ways. Living with my boss has inspired me to stay organized and think of ways to manage work, health, and my family. He does all of it so effortlessly. It has also changed my perception of him. I used to think of him as someone who is just concerned about work and none of our personal problems matter to him but he’s probably more sensitive and emotional than anyone in the team. By now I’ve understood what makes him angry or cry, what he’s possessive about, and what his lifestyle looks like. This has really improved the quality of work I present to him and thankfully, I’ve not been scolded even once during this phase.
We’ve bonded over movies, music and food. The only thing he says he doesn’t like about me is my cooking and now it’s a joke because I’ve told him to cook himself or be satisfied with what he’s getting. We’ve discussed our families and what brought us to the stage we are currently at and all of this makes me want to do more for the company. I’ve started to feel like it’s mine and I’m now motivated to see it reach newer heights.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.