Shivam working in the field, pre-lockdown
In the latest of our ‘Working From Home With…’ series, behno’s Shivam Punjya shares how he is finding comfort in simplicity; be it in the afternoon shadows cast on his apartment wall or the ease of his repetitive working from home wardrobe.
Shivam Punjya’s innate creative streak is apparent from just one glance at his Instagram, where his recent ‘things I’m thinking about’ posts have featured everything from an artwork he spotted at Paris’ Centre Pompidou, to a snapshot of beautiful blossoms at a family almond orchard in California. In today’s interview about how he’s adjusted to staying (and working from) home, he reveals that having a little more time to read has prompted him to start adding more chapters to his very own murder mystery book, and how trusty combinations of black T-shirts and relaxed pants have kept him in his comfort zone while staying visually connected with the behno team on Zoom.
How does your typical day start now that you’re working from home?
I’m up between 6 – 6:45 am and the number of snoozes I hit depend on how late I was up the night before. I have a habit I’m not so thrilled about – I reach for my phone the moment I wake up. I quickly skim through emails and WhatsApp texts that came in the night before, mostly from collaborators and friends in India. I like to marinate on these thoughts while I continue on with my morning.
I then find some time to be active, even though I have limited mobility within my apartment. I’ve been super dependent on my resistance bands lately. By this point I’m craving a fantastic cup of Indian masala chai, which I grew up drinking, I sub dairy milk for oat milk for a delicious “breakfast”.
One of my fathers (I grew up in a big family with my aunt & uncle who I consider my mother & father as well) and I have a daily tradition of touching base at 9 am to catch up every morning. He’s excellent at instilling positive thoughts and ideas before I jump into work!
What do you choose to wear and what’s your skincare process?
My WFH wardrobe and skincare regime has changed so much from when I’d otherwise actually be going into the office. I haven’t worn a pair of pants without an elastic waistband in the past 45 days and I have really mixed feelings about this. I’m petrified about wearing trousers again in the near future! But at home, one moment I’m working and then I’m cooking lunch, and then washing dishes and cleaning up. I feel like my WFH wardrobe is a monochromatic black uniform pieced together by immense levels of comfort and a sheer mandate to shelter in place. My black tees and sweaters keep me focused and in my comfort zone; I know how I’m going to feel once I’m dressed.
I’ve also completely decluttered my post-shower skincare protocol. A simple moisturiser is all I’m wearing now after I’ve washed my face. I’m forgoing deodorant (I know, TMI, but it seriously reduces waste, saves on money and I’ve realized I don’t smell all that bad… I think), serums, and anything hair product related for the most part.
How do you structure your day?
My team and I touch base every day at 10 a.m. over the phone to set the tone and workflow for the day. This kicks everything off. From there we schedule Zoom calls throughout the day, partially because it makes it feel more personable like we’re in the office, but also because it keeps things exciting with the regular check-ins. There’s also accountability; we’re all in this together. We talk about anything and everything; sometimes we eat snacks, other times, we’re screensharing where we need each other’s opinions.
I’ve always had a small desk in my bedroom, which I always thought took up unnecessary space, but now is proving to be very important to my day to day. It also allows me to create a sense of separation in a confined space. The desk is where I work. I must admit that I’m extremely privileged to be able to create this sort of designated space and this thought has been in the back of my mind the entire time during this crisis. WFH, while instrumental in flattening the curve, is, of course, a luxury but also such a varied experience for so many of us.
What helps you to stay positive and motivated?
To-do lists are a must for me. The act of simply highlighting something “completed” is such a rewarding feeling.
Most of my positivity stems from the outpouring of love I’ve gotten from my brother, family, and dear friends over Zoom, FaceTime and phone calls.
What are you doing to keep your creative juices flowing?
Well, work has been stimulating; creating within parameters has forced us to be more creative.
I’ve also finally come around to reading some books I’ve been collecting but never had gotten around to opening. This actually compelled me to dig up a little prologue I had written as a start to a fiction book years ago. I’ve started adding chapters to this, and it’s been so much fun! It’s a murder mystery that speaks to the development work in India and has allowed me to synthesize my experiences and time in the field in a way that seems unnatural.
How are you remaining connected with your team?
Zoom is magical. That’s all. Of course, texts, emails, and phone calls still persist but there’s something so incredible about seeing your colleagues. I love it. Really puts into perspective the “times” when we went into the studio.
What’s been challenging so far?
Foremost, not seeing friends, colleagues and family in person. Secondly, it’s been challenging to navigate new waters with our business shifting and really thinking about how to sustain — and grow — an emerging brand during these times.
Any recommendations of things to do when work stops and downtime begins?
Exploring new music (and going back to the classics!) has been something I’ve been really enjoying, even as I work. I’m really into “creating experiences” for myself where I pick a playlist to listen to, find something to read —often old issues of Monocle— or do an activity like write Haiku poems, and eat a snack all at the same time. These various elements intersecting make for a mood.
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