Coffee Break: Things I’ve learnt so far from WFH

This article first appeared in Capital, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 18, 2020 - May 24, 2020.
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Hey, how are you coping with the MCO?”

Over the past two months, this has been the easiest way for many people to break the ice in a conversation.

It may not be the most interesting ice-breaker in the world, but at least this is less clichéd than talking about the weather, right?

A quick check on theedgemarkets.com shows that, since the Movement Control Order started on March 18, all Coffee Breaks written by my colleagues were mostly about their experiences of working from home (WFH).

As this is my first Coffee Break since the MCO, allow me to share my WFH experience with you.

Although I am a rather outgoing person, I must admit that I have been enjoying WFH so far.

No unnecessary meetings, no unnecessary appointments and, best of all, no traffic jam.

Here’s my daily routine: I wake up, I have breakfast, I walk my four-legged friend, I have a shower, then I start doing my work. In the afternoon, I order food delivery for lunch, then I continue doing my work.

When I finish my work would very much depend on when my wife finishes hers because she is the one who prepares our dinner.

Does WFH give me a better work-life balance and work efficiency? The answer is most certainly “yes”.

I have been adapting well to the new norm, so much so that I almost feel like WFH is the old normal, and going back to office is the new normal.

If this MCO experience has taught us anything, as far as white collars are concerned, it’s that we can actually do away with a lot of unnecessary work procedures.

Just because we have been doing them all these years doesn’t mean that we have to keep doing them.

Oftentimes, meetings and appointments can be replaced by an email or one simple phone call, although their outcomes are arguably not quite the same.

But, of course, WFH requires self-discipline. We need to manage our time better and eliminate distractions. To me, that is not a big problem because I am quite organised.

Even then, I would be lying to you if I were to tell you that I am not getting distracted at all while WFH.

For instance, last Wednesday, while I was having lunch, the TV was showing Fast & Furious 8, and I ended up watching the whole movie and only continued to work at 3pm.

Here’s my revised daily routine: I wake up, I have breakfast, I walk my four-legged friend, I have a shower, I play FIFA 19 on PS4, then only do I start doing my work.

In the afternoon, I order food delivery for lunch, I play FIFA 19 on PS4 again, then only do I continue doing my work.

Between afternoon and evening, I will be tempted to grab some snacks from the kitchen, the fridge, or basically any edible thing within my reach on the dining table, which is also my temporary work desk now.

When I was in the office, I didn’t usually snack that much, unless my colleagues offered me some chocolate chip cookies or jam doughnuts.

Now, when I finish my work would very much depend on how many times I go for snacks or video game breaks a day.

While most Malaysians are using their extra time during the MCO to learn a new skill or pick up a new language, I did none of those things. 

Instead, I managed to get Morecambe FC — a fourth-tier football club in England known as The Shrimps — promoted to the English Premier League and they are currently playing in the Champions League too.

That’s one item checked off the bucket list.

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