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Home office hiatus: adapting to work under quarantine

Aparna Sharma has been an HCM Architect at Oracle for more than 12 years now. Joining the company has allowed her to broaden her experience and harness the love she has for travelling across the globe. She has a passion for the different cultures of the world; living in various countries has given her a deeper understanding of the ways people live, think, and work. Oracle’s presence in close to 180 countries is the perfect platform for a career like Aparna’s, where adaptability is fundamental to achieve success.

As a single woman, Aparna has done most of her globetrotting by herself. From her beginnings in India to currently residing in Norway, she’s never been afraid to welcome new cultures into her life. She’s a positive, inspiring, funny, and energized person who kindly shares her life and work experiences with others. Now a part of Oracle’s Nordics Consulting team, she’s had to adapt not only to a new culture, but also to working from home in these extraordinary times. For someone like her, staying home and being unable to meet face-to-face with other people clashes with her outgoing nature. However, Aparna’s determination to adapt keeps her going.

Always ready to travel

Aparna loves to travel, not just for short vacations, but to stay and live a while in the countries she visits, such as the UK, South Africa, Jordan, and now Norway. “I feel that, today, I’m a better person because my job at Oracle has given me the opportunity to travel, embrace other cultures, change with those experiences, and ultimately grow. I love what I do and I do what I love, so the last 12 years have absolutely flown by,” she says. “I’m a person who doesn’t do routine; I need change.”

Even though Aparna believes we should plan for change instead of fearing it, no one could’ve planned for the unprecedented situation the world would face in 2020. “This has been a sudden change, something we didn’t choose nor wanted. However, people will always find ways through—I’m sure our resilience will surprise us,” she hopes. “My Oracle family and friends, including my customers, have been a source of strength and happiness for me. Whatever the situation, at Oracle Consulting, we have to be positive and flexible for our customers. For me, that’s natural: I happen to see the positive in most things; I’m an adapter. As a consultant, I bring change to my customers; so who am I if I don’t adapt and face change head-on, even in challenging times?”

Bringing the office home

Like many people around the world who were used to commuting to the office every day, Aparna has had to adapt to working from home. “Spontaneous coffee conversations and catching up during lunch has been replaced by Zoom calls. During these calls, I need to make a conscious effort to understand customers correctly—and to make sure that they understand me. It’s a different way of working, and I’m very impressed by how quickly our customers have adapted and accepted the use of these digital tools,” she says. “Projects can move faster because we now use our time on working, instead of commuting—no commute also means I get to sleep a little more than usual.”

In Aparna’s case, living by herself adds a different flavor to working from home, as opposed to having your significant other, children, or roommates around. “I live by myself, so in some ways it’s different for me to cope with a long-term, home-office situation, compared to colleagues who have young, super-energetic kids who need the attention of their parents,” she says. “Being alone makes it easier to concentrate, as there are fewer distractions—hours fly by quickly when you find the rhythm. However, I’ve also realized the need to take frequent breaks, to enjoy and relax, which is important to stay physically and mentally fit, and to keep a good work-life balance.”

Norway, the Scandi way

As an Indian expat in Norway, Aparna has had enough time to discover and enjoy the country’s homey pleasures. “One good thing about being alone at home is that I can try new, Norwegian/Scandi hobbies, such as knitting—I’ve successfully knit my first hat. I’ve also started to cook a wider variety of dishes: I cooked my first-ever homemade Thai soup… and it was pretty good!” she says.

“In Norway, people love to go to the forest to get away from city life. I might just try that, too.” Thinking positively and taking advantage of what the country has to offer, as well as offer her, Aparna has not only adapted, but also learned to love the country she now calls home.

Spending all that time on her own has also brought Aparna to realize what’s important. “I’ve got back in touch with so many friends. A friend of mine called me up the other day…after 12 busy years! We had a lot to catch up on, to say the least,” she tells us. “The most important thing, though, is to keep smiling, laughing, and being kind to others and to ourselves. We’re all in this together, and together we shall see this through!”

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