Working from home (WFH) or flexible work arrangements may become the norm in the near future post-COVID-19. So, it’s worth looking into equipping your home for productivity.
Of course, aside from preparing comfortable and effective workstations, you'd also want to ensure that the environment provides a restful atmosphere. Here’s our essential work-from-home checklist to help you balance between work and play.
1. High-speed broadband
A good broadband connection is necessary for working from home. If it is within your means, getting a connection of at least 1 Gbps will save you a lot of frustration when attending video conference calls.
Do ensure that the connection reaches all corners of your apartment or house so that when different household members are video-conferencing at different areas of the house, the connection will not be choppy.
2. Ergonomic tables, chairs and monitors
Maintaining a good posture when working at home is important. Set up your table, chair, and screen in a manner that allows you to be in a relaxed state when working.
Working from the dining table, dressing table, or mahjong table is not beneficial for your posture. Investing in a good table and chair can go a long way and will come in handy when you have to work flexibly between home and office next time.
Check your posture at your workstation to see if you can improve it. When in a sitting position, you should not feel any tension in your back or your shoulders. Keep your screen comfortably far from you and just slightly lower than eye level to avoid neck and backaches.
3. Create dedicated spaces
Dedicated workspaces at home send a signal to your mind that work and play are separated.
If you have a laptop, you may move around the house like a nomad, but such portability can cause you to feel obliged to work without stopping. If possible, set up your laptop at a fixed table meant for working and leave it there permanently. When off work, have your meals mindfully on the dining table, or fully relax on the couch.
If you lead meetings, conduct webinars and talks, or give interviews, perhaps look into creating a video-conference friendly booth with the help of a screen, like the IKEA Bekant screen for desk. To avoid sound issues, invest in a pair of earphones with mic.
4. Meal prep recipes
Let’s face it. While many of us have been experimenting with elaborate recipes during the circuit breaker period, weekdays are still crunch time with deadlines to meet.
While we may have frequented food courts to grab a convenient lunch before heading back to the office, now, you have to fret about your meals. Getting food delivery is convenient, but delivery fees aren't cheap. “Dabao” (takeaway) can be time-consuming if you don’t live near a mall or a coffee shop. An easy solution is to meal-prep in advance.
Meal prepping is a common technique used by health or fitness junkies to eat clean, but you can also use this technique to save time and enjoy home-cooked food. On the weekends, cook larger portions so that you can pack extras to be eaten through the week. Getting your meals out of the way can definitely allow you to focus better when you work from home.
5. Distraction busters
Distractions tempt us from our home when at work: the bed, Netflix, a new hobby, the fridge, or the pantry, leading you to procrastinate.
Equip yourself with some time management techniques such as the Pomodoro technique, where you work without distraction for 25 minutes under a set timer, take short 3 to 5 minute breaks, and continue until a longer break. You can use this TomatoTimer to try it out.
You could even install extensions to your browser that block time-wasting sites such as Facebook and Instagram. When activated, you won't be able to access these sites during a set time, keeping you laser-focused.
6. Set up a routine
Up late more during this period? Sleep schedules may have gone haywire for many during this period and it is hard to keep track of what time and day it is. Keep a physical calendar or a journal to keep you mindful of and disciplined about the time you spend at home.
Stick to routines. For instance, do a workout at 6 pm every day. If you want to sleep before 11 pm rather than binge Netflix way past midnight, set in motion a series of tasks that will naturally lead to an earlier bedtime. You could set aside all devices by 10 pm and go into the bedroom to journal or stretch to wind down.
It’s an anxious period for many of us, so don’t hesitate to put in time in the schedule for self-care.
7. Blinds and fans
Even though the weather in Singapore is sweltering, refrain from turning on the air-con 24/7. It could cause your bill to easily balloon to hundreds of dollars.
Instead, put down the blinds or curtains to help keep the sun (and therefore, heat) out.
Or, simply buy more fans. The electricity usage of a fan is much lower, and you can get a good one for between $50 to $100. In the middle to long run, it is definitely more economical than turning on the air-con every day.
While WFH can sometimes feel confining and draining, you can turn it into an enjoyable experience with these tips and tricks. Working from home can actually save you a lot of time and money as you don't have to commute or dress up.
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Plus, your employer may extend the WFH period or encourage flexible work arrangements that will see you toggle between office and home, so ergonomic chairs and high-speed broadband will likely become essential items in the future. Facebook, Twitter and Amazon have already announced plans to transition to more remote work even post-Covid-19.
Whichever the case, you will find that time management skills and setting up good routines for yourself will serve you well even when you go back to the office.