SURFACES REPORTER (SR) in association with WADE ASIA invited women in Design to share their inspiring stories from 2020. Today, we are sharing the motivational tale of Anuprita Dixit, design director at IMK Architects, who says that year 2020 helped us grow way more than we possibly could have all through our lives.
Meet Anuprita Dixit
Anuprita Dixit is the design director at IMK Architects, an architecture and urban design practice founded in 1957 with offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru. After completing her Masters in Town and Regional Planning from the University of Montana, Missoula, USA, she joined IMK Architects as a Junior Architect in 1996 and has since been a significant part of the organization for the past twenty-five years.
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Skilled in cartography, construction, sustainable design, comprehensive planning, and urban planning, Anuprita has worked on a wide variety of projects from corporate townships to high-rise residential buildings as well as single-family homes, schools, and university campuses, commercial buildings, hotels, and resorts.
She worked extensively on the recently completed AURIC Hall, a landmark administrative building as part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)-one of India's most ambitious infrastructure programs. Designed using climatically-responsive and sustainable concepts, the building boasts a glass façade facing the north, and an aluminum lattice work in the south to represent the rich culture and history of its context.
While a majority of business and government offices in Mumbai were trying to restore normalcy by going back to their workplaces, the team at IMK Architects had chosen to continue working from home.
The Lockdown Plan
Before the lockdown imposition, the team at IMK consciously decided quite early to embrace the work from the home model in March 2020. This probably gave them a chance to innovate the new work arrangement. Albeit the uncertainty of how long the situation would persist, all their issues were addressed before shutting down the office completely.
Besides the technical issues that were supposed to be solved on the work front, they actually had a fairly smooth transition into the work from home arrangement. Through the pandemic period, they remained constantly innovated and determined which helped them stay on track. This could be possible all due to the agile SCRUM work process that IMK Architects successfully continues to follow.
This agile approach works to implement any project step by step within a defined time interval with a self-organized team. This has helped them to prioritize their health and well- being without having to compromise on their work. Not only this, but all tasks were prioritized which helped in taking up those tasks and completing the same efficiently.
Apart from this, it allowed the team to react in a flexible way in response to changing requirements in every project phase. In this way, the agile method was proved suitable particularly for the "new normal" and the remote work from home arrangement. This small scale but self- organized way of working led to achieving transparent goals, promoted communication and increased productivity within the team. Isn't that amazing?
Has the Plan Been Working Well?
They have been working well with the system now for the past ten months. Even during the constructive stage, they managed to conduct site inspections successfully. Through video conferencing and calls, they also participated in review meetings online. This would have been possible just because of constant support and cooperation from their clients and contractors.
Achieving a work-life balance has been an even bigger challenge for some while working remotely. Pre- pandemic, their work realms were distinctly separate from their personal life realms, hence, it was relatively easier for them to manage these separately.
In many ways, work-life balance and its integration in our daily lives is fundamental as we all play multiple roles within different social contexts. During the pandemic period, the lines between being a wife and a mother, to being an architect and team leader, were becoming increasingly blurred.
However, the past years' experience has made her realize that there' s never really a true balance between work and personal responsibilities. There's always something new that develops which cannot be predicted. And, this is probably even more challenging to deal with since both the realms are now intermingled and both demand attention. Hence, they had to adopt new methods in order to improve their time management skills and efficiently simultaneously.
One needs to be agile, flexible and proactive to streamline one's work and find new ways to cooperate with others.
“If we talk about life in a metropolitan city like Mumbai, the challenges posed here are quite unique in its own way. Houses in Mumbai usually are compact and an average middle- class family has to live in a 1 BHK with makeshift arrangements to suit day- time and night- time needs. And, it has been really different for many people to carve out an exclusive working space during the day with the work from home arrangements, especially with all the family members present at home. In families with young children, being a mother has the additional responsibility of looking after the children's needs.” She exclaims.
“A cooperative and collaborative team is very important in such circumstances. She likes to give due credit to some of her younger colleagues who managed to continue working equally productively, overcoming the challenges.” She added.
With middle-class families unable to afford to live in central Mumbai due to high property values, the daily commute to work is time-consuming and exhausting. An average working individual spends almost double the working hours at the workplace rather than at home, and almost half of the balance in travelling to and from work.
However, with the onset of a pandemic, remote working conditions have nullified travel time and allowed people to relocate to affordable and spacious residences. It has also freed up time and energy for activities that could be taken up only over the weekend such as exercises, recreation, reading, etc. The lockdown also encouraged family members to collectively work as a team and do the daily household chores, a lesson well-learned in being self-reliant. So, the pandemic might not be considered truly fatal, but somehow proved as a bane.
The Lessons Learned Through the Year
Being in a profession like Architecture, she had never imagined that work from home would ever be possible where there is a constant requirement of coordination meetings, discussions for designs and drawings, site visits, and inspections, etc.
While the last year was full of challenges, it rather encouraged architects all around the world to reinvent their methods and work processes.
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She looks back at 2020 with positivity and seeks to carry forward all her learnings with renewed enthusiasm and determination in the future and so should you. That period helped us grow way more than we possibly could have all through our lives.
She exclaims, “We look back at 2020 with positivity and seek to carry forward all our learnings in the future with renewed zeal and determination.”
The story of Anuprita Dixit makes us realize that it is possible to work from any part of the country, with any organization on projects across the world. Not just Anuprita Dixit, each one of us can create a story to share to inspire others- hold on till your spotlight comes.
Keep reading SURFACES REPORTER for more such articles and stories.
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