How to work from home efficiently during the COVID-19 outbreak

It is quite manageable once you start a routine, as you would at work.

Wan Munirah

Published: 3 April 2020, 10:36 PM

More Singaporeans are expected to telecommute or work from home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The idea of working from home may sound easy, but it isn’t, especially if you aren’t used to it at all.

In my previous jobs, it took me almost two months to get used to the unfamiliar routine. I had to deal with distractions at home, like having my sisters crash into my room or being asked to run errands by my family simply because I was at home.

Here are a few working from home tips you can try, especially if it’s your first time.

1. Find a dedicated working space

If you think that working from home means that you can work from anywhere at home, including your bed, I’ve got bad news for you.

Working from your bed is not ideal for your posture if you will be using your laptop throughout the day.

What worked for me was setting up a dedicated working space with nearby powerpoints for my laptop charger, and ample space for my mouse, documents, mobile phone and snacks.


I usually work at my dining table due to its close proximity to the kitchen. PHOTO CREDIT: UNSPLASH


Try different corners of your home to see which one suits your needs. Most importantly, keep your space simple and neat, as you may need to stow away your items once you’re done for the day.

2. Set your own ground rules

Once you’ve found your working space, take some time to write your own ground rules to help other people at home understand that you are really working. Let them know about your working hours and scheduled break times.

By creating these boundaries, you could avoid being interrupted by your family members to do household chores or run errands, and minimise any disruptions to your train of thought.



You could try putting up a sign. PHOTO CREDIT: HUMANSOFTUMBLR.COM


These ground rules need not be hard and fast; a closed room door could mean that you do not want to be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. Or you could ask your family members to text you whenever they need help at home.

In other words, treat it as if you’re not really “at home”.

3. Treat it like a normal day at work

Working away from the office can get pretty lonely, especially if there’s no one else you can talk to at home.

Approach your day as you would at work. I recommend resuming your usual work routine for a resemblance of normalcy. Talk to your colleagues over text, and go for your ‘lunch’ and ‘tea breaks’.

I usually make a hot drink before I check my emails, share memes with my colleagues over WhatsApp, and browse TikTok to destress throughout the day.

4. No need to dress up

While some prefer to dress up in working clothes to feel motivated as they work, I gravitate towards wearing comfortable attire (T-shirt and shorts) that will get me through the day. After all, I don’t have the luxury of switching on the air conditioner the whole day when I’m home.

You can always prepare a ‘work’ outfit nearby in case you’re activated for video calls.


Find a quiet space for a conducive video call. PHOTO CREDIT: UNSPLASH/Charles Deluvio


Wear whatever you want, but please maintain good personal hygiene – that includes taking a shower to freshen up before you start your day!

5. Log off on time

Working from home can make you feel like the time is passing by too slowly. Some days, I even lose track of time and end up working longer than I should.

Make it a habit to end your work on time, especially since there are no colleagues around to remind you to start packing up for the day.


Work-life balance still applies even when you’re at home. PHOTO CREDIT: GIPHY


One way to help you log off on time is by ending the day with a routine – it could be something simple like going out for a run, cooking dinner at home, or finally opening your closed room doors to hang out with your family after a long day.

Besides doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by working from home, don’t forget to practise safe distancing measures and check in on your colleagues and friends to offer them moral support.

Stay safe everyone!

You may like these