How to work from home

So, it’s been about five months into my new job and we do enjoy remote working arrangements at my company, for most divisions. While I like going to the office and meeting colleagues, I do also cherish the time I have working from home. I do have a nice setup for a home office and hence it makes a good environment for when you need to finish tasks and planning in a seating; while also managing domestic tasks. The arrangement helps me manage my day better especially when there are evening or night calls. While this was novel for me in the beginning and I was a little more ‘excited’ with the prospect of working from home officially and not have to feel guilty about it, it is becoming more of a usual flow for my week. I work from home on Mondays usually and I try to maximise the time I have for things which I do better while working at home than at the office.

Although it can be easy to just stay in PJs, the routine or some boundaries help to keep me on track and in ‘work mode’. These here are just based on my experience (without kids).

  1. Setting the alarm and waking up at the same time for days when I do not need to commute.
  2. Pick a morning routine like reading the news and having coffee and breakfast. For days when you feel like shaking up the routine a little for ‘inspiration’, squeeze in some exercise.
  3. Shower and get dressed. Not into my actual work clothes but just clothes for walking across the street to a store.
  4. Before I start at my home office, I also make myself a cup of tea which signals the start of my work day.
  5. While some days I do work through lunch time, I try to head out for a late lunch to get some air. Even if it means walking across the street to Starbucks. So a downside to me working at home these days is the number of steps in a day. This is something I am fixing and I hope to exercise more regularly on those work from home days.
  6. I make my lunch at home some times. I do not eat in front my desk now. I used to. Of course, besides making a mess on the keyboard and work area, there are other reasons for not eating in front of your work screen. Not ideal especially when you’re sitting at your desk for the whole day with no socialising. Having proper physical room boundaries in the house can help lift your mood or even help with creativity. Have your meal in the dining room if you can.
  7. Cats. I’ve two cats. Which means they can get in your way sometimes when they wake up and decide that they want to join your work space and your calls. When I have a planned call, I close the door to the home office to prevent the cats from meandering in and out when I’m on a call.
  8. Lists: I make a list of things I should complete in a day and to stick to them. There is a A-list which are things which are ‘MUST’ finish and another which are ‘good if I can get started or even finish’. I colour code the lists using sticky pads into different categories of tasks. That’s a personal system.
  9. Set a routine for water. I find that with fewer social breaks at home, I do not take that walk to the kitchen for water as often. And I do not put my water in the home office. Just for a simple reason that I should take that short break and a walk.

These are just some items I thought of…and they are not in any order importance. Everyone would have their own pace and rhythm for working at home. Sometimes when I feel that productivity and creativity levels have dropped, I do try to disrupt my own routine by taking a walk outside and then coming back to work (when there aren’t any calls).

Step goal fail at the end of the day.
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The culture dimension @ work

I was reading this article on HBR which really resonated with me. “Culture can’t just be an assortment of well-meaning HR practices; it has to grow out of distinctive business practices.” How many different iterations of ‘culture’ or interpretations are there?

Can you capture what it means to be a member of your organization? At its core, the role of culture is to reinforce a sense of belonging, a shared commitment among colleagues about how they solve problems, share information, serve customers, and deliver experiences.” This is often difficult to implement across the organisation, especially if it’s a large organisation, but so important for talent retention and attraction, in addition to a business impact.

If you’ve not been in the situation of a culture misfit before, it probably wouldn’t be top of mind when taking on a new job offer. However, for job seekers out there, do pay attention to the details around culture. According to a Glassdoor survey, culture and values rated higher for job satisfaction compared with compensation and work-life balance. Nevertheless, on a personal note, I do think work-life balance is a subset or one of the parameters of culture.

What does ‘work culture’ entail? It’s certainly deeper than what is seen on the outside. The type of engagement counts. What is defined as ’employee engagement’? What behaviour is deemed as unacceptable and how do people react to change? Does the organisation truly believe in innovation and that comes through in the way they do things?

One question which I read on Fast Company was rather interesting, ‘How is risk-taking rewarded?’ Risk or change are often not as well-received in more conservative organisations, compared with a company which is often the disruptor or on its way to becoming one.

I came across a few articles which are quite helpful in helping job seekers develop a ‘checklist’ for culture matching, from Fast Company, The Balance and The Muse.

My first paid article!

I’ve written essays at school which were submitted for competitions and well, just enjoy writing casually, which also includes some teen novels I’d written when I was younger and unpublished of course.

 

Now that I have some time (beyond household chores, reading and meeting potential business partners), I decided to sign up as a freelance ghostwriter. Things that I’ve learnt about writing for money:

I’m sure many of you would laugh at my experience as a first-time paid writer, but I’m just happy.

 

  • Deadlines, research and write within the deadlines makes one feel unsure of the quality and standard.
  • Choice of topics. You either take it on and turn it down but of course turning it down reduces some future opportunities.
  • Writing and rewriting.
  • I’m on my laptop almost the whole day and I’m half afraid that my laptop might ‘burnout’.
  • Upside: Happy to be paid a token for writing and spending time on my laptop surfing the internet.

I was ‘naively’ elated with my first paid article. What did I do? I went out and got some groceries with that at Marks & Spencer as a treat. Then I became ambitious and accepted translation jobs too. So I just translated lifestyle articles in Traditional Chinese to English. Well, I thank my lucky stars that I went through karaoke training with my mother when I was a kid. Pitch and tone aside, at least I still remember how to read some Traditional Chinese words. So thank you Mom (who is currently in Qinghai with my father for a monastery’s grand opening).

This is how I feel now. #roar Credit to Wiki Commons.
This is how I feel now. #roar
Credit to Wiki Commons.

Ok, now give me more writing projects which can fund our grocery needs. #feedme