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New COVID-19 Community Cases Urge Gov’t To Bring Back WFH For Phase 2


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Amid reports of new Covid-19 cases and community clusters this past week, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic, urges employers to “allow staff to work from home as far as possible”. 

It is one of the many new rules announced by the government to curb the spread of the “worst Covid-19 community outbreak since last year”. 

On the new Covid-19 Phase 2 rules in Singapore: flexible working arrangements and staggered working hours

the straits times infographic on covid-19 phase 2 rules in singapore
Source: The Straits Times

As per the new Covid-19 Phase 2 rules, more employees will be required to work from home. Under the new rules, no more than 50% of staff who are able to work from home should be in the office at any one time, down from 75 per cent at present. 

Employers are also advised to stagger working hours of employees who need to return to the office, and implement flexible working hours. Social gatherings at the office should be avoided as well.

Work-from-home arrangements are sure to be mandatory soon: the new rules kick in starting May 8, this coming Saturday, and will be in place until May 30. 

To prepare you for the return of remote work arrangements, we’ve compiled eight tips to help you maintain a highly productive lifestyle at home. 

Start your day with intention and a schedule

hand on laptop typing
Define a reasonable scope of tasks, and focus your working hours spent on those.

Without a set schedule, it might be easy to be work beyond the point of maximum productivity. 

The easiest solution? Define a reasonable scope of tasks, and focus your working hours spent on those.

1. Create intention with to-do lists

Plan your days with to-do lists. Creating lists and intentions for your days will help keep your mind motivated and your days meaningful as you complete and strike tasks off a list. 

2. Start work at the same time each day

It might also help to start work at the same time every day so your mind and body can recognise that you will not have to focus on your task at hand for an allotted time.

Feel professional by looking professional

asian girl sitting down using laptop
Looking professional even when you’re working at home will help uplift your productivity levels.

Do not wear your pyjamas all day. As your brain is attuned to habit, wearing pyjamas will keep it in sleep mode. Get into work mode by changing into something else besides your sleepwear. 

Besides your mental state, you will probably have to continue attending meetings via video calls. Looking professional during those meetings will help keep the work tone on for your coworkers, too.

Have a dedicated workspace

clean dask with imac
Mark out a work spot at home and keep your work within that area.

Studies have shown that you’ll have a lower quality of sleep when you work in your bedroom. And though we understand that not everyone has the luxury to have a study room, nor enough space for all the adults at home to fit into a working space during this period, we still think having a dedicated workspace will uplift your productivity at home. 

As an alternative, you can mark out a work spot at home and keep your work within that area. It should be an area that’s conducive for working. Mainly, you should steer clear of your media station or any lounge areas that will tempt you to nap the workday away. 

The dining table can be a good place to work at, as it will have enough space for your gadgets, and it’s close enough to the snacks to keep you going throughout the day. 

Allocate time for exercise and sunshine

walking and cycling in singapore
Work active time into your schedule right as you start working from home.

With all the commute time saved, you will have fewer excuses not to exercise. But it might be challenging to hit the recommended 10,000 steps a day without heading out of the house. 

Work active time into your schedule right from the start by trying out free apps you can use to exercise without any equipment or needing to go to the gym. 

Check out apps like Nike Training Club for some high-intensity workouts or Down Dog for yoga.

Don’t forget to get some sunshine, too. Rest your eyes and mind by taking a walk outside: look at some greenery and enjoy the vitamin D, which has been scientifically proven to be essential for the body and mind to function well.

Also, sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your back, so get on your feet. If you have not tried a standing desk, get creative by stacking some books and fashioning one out of your existing furniture at home.

Socialise online

asian girl eating while on zoom meeting
Don’t isolate yourself at home: make a virtual date with your friends for a dinner or just a chat!

The hardest part of working from home can be isolation. With the help of technology, you can get some face time in with friends without meeting physically. 

Make a virtual date with your friends for dinner or a chat. Perhaps you could even try out exercising with your friends through video call apps or creating virtual fitness classes. 

Keep your space organised

hand on laptop
Declutter your workspace at home, beware of house chores, and always make your bed before you start work!

If you are spending all day at home, think about making the space more comfortable and pleasant.

  • Declutter: Throw away or donate anything you no longer need. If you are looking for a space to create your dedicated workspace, this is the best time to identify clutter. Keep only the essentials you need on your desk.
  • Beware of house chores: You might be generating more dirt and dirty dishes at home. It’s tempting to jump in and clear up, but set aside dedicated time for chores after work hours to keep to your work routine.
  • Make your bed: This helps to reduce the temptation to lie on your bed in the middle of the day, disrupting your set schedule.

Set some boundaries with your family

parents with kid
Establish boundaries with your family when you’re working from home.

Let your family know your schedule and explain to them that you are always available outside your work hours. This helps your family understand that you are still available but should not distract you from your work. 

It will also help educate younger kids in understanding the concept of work and playtime.

Reflect and be grateful

woman looking at the side smiling
Even if going pack to Phase 2 is scary, remember to be grateful you have access to resources to practice safe distancing and keep safe.

Basic necessities—like access to running water, a comfortable home to sleep in and practice social distancing, internet access to continue your work remotely—are luxuries that others cannot afford. 

So before you start feeling sorry for yourself at having to work from home, keep your spirits high by reflecting and appreciating your life and having all you do.

This article was originally published on Planner Bee, your handy financial planning app! Learn more about managing your money, investments and insurance on Planner Bee’s blog.

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