The COVID Series: 4 Useful Tips For Working From Home Effectively During A Pandemic


While attitudes towards remote work in Singapore have been changing over the past few years, perhaps no other event has pushed the local workforce towards adapting to “Work From Home” policies than the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. As companies here increasingly implement telecommuting, though, employees themselves may face difficulties adapting to the remote work lifestyle.


As many of us often say, there are so many distractions at home that it’s hard to get any work done. Given the sheer necessity of social distancing in the recent outbreak, though, it’s crucial that employees learn to effectively adapt to working from home. Here are four tips on how to do just that.

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1. Know your own needs & be understanding of others’


Different people need different conditions to thrive. This is a key aspect of knowing how to provide good mentorship to your employees in general, but it’s also particularly pertinent for employees in today’s Coronavirus-hit context.

To begin with, some employees may generally be more comfortable working from home than others. Older generations, for example, may have more trouble adapting to remote work, especially when it comes to using the various technological tools for remote work today.


Conversely, employees with young children at home might face greater difficulties in dealing with distractions as they work from home.

For the best results, it’s therefore essential to knowing yourself, what you need, and what your teammates need to be effective in working remotely.

  • Distractions:
    What are your major sources of distraction are at home, and how can you manage them effectively?
  • Communication styles:
    What are your communication preferences, and how can you adapt to fulfilling them while working from home?
  • Collaboration:
    What are your teammates’ needs with respect to working from home, and how can you adapt to these together for better collaboration?



2. Have a dedicated workspace at home


One of the biggest challenges that remote workers face is the difficulty of separating work from home. When your home doubles as your workspace, it can be hard to enforce a strict barrier between the two aspects of your life the way conventional office workers do.


Transitioning in and out of “work mode” when you’re at home the whole time can prove to be quite a challenge in the beginning. Having a dedicated workspace at home, though, is critical in facilitating this transition. Just as stepping into the office every day allows you to mentally shift into work mode, sitting down to your desk at home every morning to start work will, too.



3. Implement a daily shutdown ritual


A dedicated workspace, though, may not in itself be sufficient in keeping work thoughts at bay after working hours. Where office workers can physically leave their work behind them at clock-out time, most people who work from home simply shut their laptop screens and get up from their desks. Going back to work, for someone who works from home, is as simple as just sitting back down.


For that reason, it’s important to implement a daily shutdown ritual for yourself at the end of every workday. According to Cal Newport, bestselling author of “Deep Work”, shutdown rituals are an effective way of telling yourself to mentally plug out from work.

Not only is it an effective means of stress management; it’s vital in allowing the mind to restore its attentional reserves and recharge its cognitive faculties. It could be as simple as telling yourself “shutdown complete” at the end of the work day (as Newport himself does.) However you choose to do it, though, according to Newport, a shutdown ritual should:

  • Be a series of consecutive steps that you engage in at the end of each work day
  • Ensure that you have a plan in place to complete each unfinished task, or
  • Capture each unfinished task in a place and manner that makes it easy to pick up where you left off



4. Dress appropriately


It should go without saying that meetings, even online ones, call for a certain level of presentability in appearance. Outside of those meetings, though, staying in your pajamas all day long might seem at first like one of the best things about getting to work from home.


In the long-term, however, it only adds to the confusion and porousness between your work life and your home life.

Simply sticking to your daily morning routine—wake-up times, breakfast menus, showering and making yourself office-ready—can really help you to shift into work mode even if you’ll just be working from home all day long.


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