I recently switched to an arrangement at Grene, the company I have been working for, for the last two years, where I would be like a contractor. I would have flexible timings. I could work from home when I wanted to but would come to the office as required. I would make sure all the work I needed to do would get it done in a timely manner.
Around the same time, I took on an official role at NephroPlus, the chain of dialysis centers I have been informally involved with right from its inception.
My life has changed dramatically.
When you are not an employee, there is a remarkable change in attitude towards work. Even though I am making significantly less money than I was until a couple of months back, life is much better professionally and personally. I find myself enjoying my work much more. I do not perceive my work to be a chore, to be done day after day. Suddenly, I find it very stimulating.
And then there is NephroPlus. I am enjoying my role there thoroughly. For the first time in my life I am working for a non-software company. The whole dynamic is very different from a software company. The goals are different. The working style is different. Well, obviously, you might say! But you only realize the extent of difference when you actually experience it. In a software company, despite all the complaints about the chaotic nature of the work and the schedules, there is a semblance of a plan, a structured team, defined deadlines, goals, deliverables.
In a startup chain of dialysis centers, there is no 'deliverable' as such. It is a continuous process of improvement, of catering to patient needs. There is no 'end point' as such. You have a few problems. You deal with them. Then the next set of problems comes up. There is not much scope for gratification at the end of a project like you have in software. After the successful execution of a project, there is celebration, a sense of catharsis, a time for relaxing. No such thing here.
What then is good about this?
Whenever I visit the center, I go over to chat with the patients that are getting dialysis there. I talk to them about how they are doing, how they are feeling and if they are having any problems. We usually have a heart to heart chat. I talk to them about the problems I might have had recently similar to theirs and how it got resolved. They give me tips about how they are dealing with the disease. I share my experiences. There is an immediate connect, an immediate feeling of empathy from both sides. I really like the time I spend with them.
There is one thing for sure. Only a dialysis patient can understand what another dialysis patient goes through. Not a nephrologist, not a technician, not a nurse, not a family member, not a best friend. Irrespective of any claims made by these people.