The month of October sees a fresh round of Conditional Movement Order (CMCO) for the residents of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Sabah.
After some initial confusion, authorities have cleared up the work from home (WFH) directive. It will only apply to those involved in the industrial and public sectors. Other sectors like the food, grocery stores and the security sector must continue to operate as usual.
WFH might last beyond MCO
Although the CMCO was announced to last only until the end of the month, surges in recent Covid-19 cases has caused concerned that it might be extended.
Malaysia had first entered the movement control order (MCO) on March 18 where all non-essential businesses had to close. Restrictions subsequently relaxed under the conditional movement control order (CMCO) imposed nationwide from May 4 with many economic activities allowed to resume.
Restrictions were further relaxed when Malaysia moved on to the recovery movement control order (RMCO) on June 10, with this order to last until December 31.
However, life in the new normal might see these new working conditions last beyond the MCO. According to a recent survey by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malaysia, 83% of employers said that they have or plan to adopt WFH practice in the new normal.
Benefits of WFH
2020 has shown us that not only is WFH is possible, but many Malaysians actually prefer it! A survey of 3,022 people revealed that a whopping 69% agree that the new normal of WFH should continue. The survey also found that 56% of business owners are supportive of WFH arrangements.
Among the benefits of WFH include:
- Saves time on commute — The survey done by UNDP revealed that WFH saves at least one hour per day of Malaysians by cutting the time of commuting to and back from work.
- Better quality of life — The saved time on commuting hours enables employees to manage work and domestic responsibilities better. This helps them improve their quality of life. This is further accelerated by the fact that traffic congestion is recognised as one of the major causes of stress for working adults.
- Positive impact on the environment — Commuting costs RM 10-20 billion in time, fuel, and carbon emissions in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area alone. WFH can go a long way in reducing time, monetary, and climate costs.
- Potential to decouple housing and work — This may help address the rising costs of housing and the depopulation of small towns due to rural-urban migration.
How to be more productive while adopting WFH
All the benefits mentioned above can only be reaped if employees practise WFH properly. Other than multiple possible distractions, there is no one watching you at a home office. In this environment, you don’t necessarily feel that same peer pressure or communal obligation to get stuff done.
Here are a few tips to be more productive while adopting a WFH culture:
- Pretend like you are going into the office — Do all the things you’d do to prepare for an office role. Examples include setting your alarm, making or go get coffee, and wearing nice clothes. This mental association you make between work and an office can help make you more productive.
- Structure your day like you would in the office — To stay on schedule, segment what you’ll do and when to do them over the course of the day. Without such structure in place, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out.
- Choose a dedicated workspace — having an area that’s consistently ‘your workspace’ helps you get into the right frame of mind. Avoid spaces that are associated with leisure time such as the couch or your bedroom.
- Avoid cabin fever — Having a dedicated workspace helps avoid feelings of isolation, especially considering you are now spending more hours at home. After work hours, enjoy other areas of your home. You can watch a good movie, read a book, or cook a fun meal. Just avoid your workspace. Various research also shows that going out and spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax, and clears your mind.
- Set boundaries and discourage personal intrusions — Interruptions and drop-ins can cause you to lose your focus, procrastinate, or get behind on a deadline. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you. Notify them that during at-home work hours you’re unavailable and cannot be interrupted.
- Work when you’re at your most productive — No one person is similar. Some work better in the morning while others are more productive later in the day. Some prefer to settle home chores before focusing on work while others prefer it the other way around. Save your harder tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate.
- Interact with other humans, unless you’re an introvert — It is widely known that social interactions drain energy from introverts. On the other hand, extroverts gain energy from them. So, if you are the latter, it’s best that see another face during the day when most of your workday is solitary. This could be someone else living with you or not.