[Women of the Pandemic] It’s important to set artificial boundaries, says Divya Gokulnath

In HerStory’s Women of the Pandemic series women share their experiences and learnings from this crisis in their own words. Here's BYJU’s co-founder, Divya Gokulnath’s account.
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The ongoing pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our daily lives, society, and the functioning of various industries. As a culmination, it’s led to a whole “new normal”, spearheaded by digital disruption across all walks of life.

The landscape of education is no different. With the fast adoption and positive disruption by online learning, we were fortunate to be in a segment of positive relevance. With a focus on enabling students to continue learning, our team has been in overdrive, and they have gone above and beyond their call of duty to ensure uninterrupted learning for students across the country.

Being part of a digital-first company, coping with the new normal, I must confess, has been relatively less challenging “personally” for me. We are a fast-paced/agile organisation, which means no two workdays are the same; but right now, my typical day involves juggling my elder son's online classes, official meetings and video recordings for the app. And in this mix comes the happy addition of my newborn, who, needless to say, has an agenda of his own!

It’s no doubt that for working women like me, the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and personal life. Working at home has led to the lack of a physical boundary between the two, a challenging situation at any point of time, let alone during a global health crisis. To that end, I'm lucky to have the advantage of my passion being in line with my profession. Because when you love what you do, you never really feel burned out.

But at the same time, I also believe it is crucial to make time for yourself and to have a balanced daily routine. I do this by setting artificial boundaries around me - something I learned at a young age by watching my mother. These artificial boundaries help me prioritise my tasks and ensure that I give 100 percent to the task at hand instead of giving 10 percent to ten things at the same time. I think it's important to remember that while multitasking is a skill, it can also put undue stress and pressure on a person. Additionally, one should never underestimate the importance of a fitness regime too. The combination of a sound mind and body makes a stronger, composed and better you.

Looking back at the past year, we can all agree that nobody could have predicted the life we are leading today! As we speak, we are all facing health, economic and societal crises surrounded by looming uncertainty. At a personal level, for me the experience has been humbling and has redefined the ‘employer-employee’ relationship. Empathetic leadership driven by transparency and communication, is what helped me navigate this time with my team. Additionally, to help our employees, we created an Rs 20 Cr CEO fund to help them cover COVID-related medical expenses for their families and themselves.

It’s safe to assume that more than anything, we are all hoping to see the light at the end of this tunnel and safely make our way into a COVID-free society. On the other side of this crisis, I think while a lot of things will go back to normal, a lot will still be carried out through the digital sphere.

In terms of education, a blended form of learning, one that combines the best of online and offline learning, will emerge. In line with this future, at BYJU’S, we will continue to innovate and create a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning formats. We will work towards empowering students to exercise the flexibility to learn however, whenever and wherever they want to help them become self-learners.