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On 16 March 2020, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced strict measures to regulate the movement of people across Malaysia in order to staunch the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has already been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

As of 9am on Sunday (22 March), the country recorded 153 new cases, bringing the overall number of cases to 1,183, with at least nine fatalities.

The Prime Minister’s announced movement control took effect on 18 March and will be in place until the end of the month on 31 March. However, it could be extended if COVID-19 continues to spread unabated. The authorities have also called in the military effective 12am on 22 March, to assist the police force in ensuring the public complies with the movement control.

During this period, the people of Malaysia have been advised to stay at home. Schools, all kinds of gatherings, and non-essential businesses have also been temporarily suspended, resulting in families being forced to work from home while cooped up with their spouses and children.

Remote working is however a foreign concept to the majority of the public, and many now struggle to find their pace at home. For this difficult period, we have compiled ten tips to help you work from home amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, to help you resume your pace and become more productive.

I. Be an Early Bird

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When you work at an office, the hectic commute to work can help mentally prepare you for work so that you’re ready to face your tasks once you’ve reached your cubicle. But if you work from home, transitioning from your bed to your computer could be a lot harder than you think.

This is because your motivation to work could be eroded by your morning sluggishness. You may also wish to extend your nap, prolong your breakfast, or just laze around until you feel you’re in the right mindset to work. So the moment you wake up, do some brisk exercise to dispel the fog of sleep in your head. Take a cold shower, eat a healthy breakfast, and jumpstart your work. Promptly getting started on your job is the key to making progress on your important daily tasks.

II. Dress for Work

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Don’t work in your pyjamas or home clothes as this negatively impacts productivity. Wearing decent work clothes does something to our brain. It puts us in the mental zone to better handle office work.

Besides the psychological boost, wearing presentable clothes allows you to take video calls with your boss and colleagues, as well as take part in online meetings. Apart from being embarrassing, wearing your PJs during a live chat or online meetings could give a negative impression about yourself to your workmates. Thus, follow the corporate maxim “Dress for Success”.

III. Set-up a Dedicated Office

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Create a dedicated office space in your home where you can comfortably do your job without any distraction. If you have a spare room, place a small table and an ergonomic chair where you can sit comfortably without straining your back.

For cyber security reasons, one should have a separate computer for work and another where you can do your Not Safe For Work (NSFW) activities. But as most people don’t have this luxury, it’s best to create a different user account for your work files on a single PC or partition your hard drive.

IV. Tell Your Firm What You Need

Request things that you require to work from home from your company or organisation. It’s vital that you inform your immediate superior if you need certain equipment or software to be able to perform your tasks from the confines of your home. These include but are not limited to printers, scanners, and telecommunications software.

Firms that are accustomed to remote work set-ups typically have budgets for home office equipment and even for internet connection. So tell your company what you need in order to get your job done.

V. Set Rules with Household Members

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Working from home means having to contend with many distractions. For example, noisy children or affection-seeking pets. If you have a dedicated office space in a closed-off room, this won’t pose much of a problem. But if there’s only a thin room divider separating your workspace from the living room, these distractions could ruin your productivity.

So set rules with the other people in your home. For instance, during your work schedule, someone will be in charge of minding the children or pets. In addition, the sound system should be turned off when you’re working, and someone else should perform the household chores like cleaning, cooking, and the laundry.

It is also an unfortunate scenario that being at home typically means that you are always available. Hence there should also be an understanding between couples, and a set of boundaries – especially during your working hours.

VI. Don’t Forget to Take Breaks

Breaks boost productivity and creativity. Working for 4 hours straight or more will just tire you out and mentally exhaust you. Taking breaks invigorates the mind, sharpens your mental acuity, and fosters creativity. Moreover, breaks are more effective if you don’t skimp on them. To maximise your breaks, including the short ones and hour-long meal breaks.

Moreover, research by Ohio University revealed that the average worker is productive for just two hours and 53 minutes during an 8-hour shift. As such, it’s counterproductive to work for a long stretch of time. To remind you to take a break, set a timer or download a software like Smart Break for Windows or TimeOut for Mac.

VII. Employ Cybersecurity Tools

Cybercriminals and hackers are taking advantage of the hype and fear over the mounting pandemic in a bid to pilfer passwords and steal confidential information. For instance, there have been malicious websites imitating the Johns Hopkins University’s interactive COVID-19 tracking map.

To protect your company’s data, leverage on cybersecurity tools like Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which encrypts your online connections and safeguards your data from cybercriminals. It also lets you share files with your workmates safely. The plus point is that some companies already have their own VPNs that allow remote users to access certain sites or servers that store data meant solely for internal use.

VIII. Socialize Online with Officemates

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Apart from diminishing work productivity and loneliness, social isolation can also lead to adverse health conditions. People suffering from such conditions are more prone to higher levels of stress, high blood pressure, heart ailments, type 2 diabetes, depression, and disabilities to name a few.

Thus, Harvard Business School’s Prithwiraj Choudhury recommends setting up virtual places where you can perform casual in-office conversations with colleagues via apps like Zoom. Through this, you can share what you’re going through with your officemates. These informal chats lessen the feeling of social isolation and improve productivity.

IX. Keep A List of Emergency Numbers

With the Malaysian government imposing stringent travel restrictions across the country in light of the military intervention and the growing number of people being infected with COVID-19, it’s best to be prepared at all times.

To create a hard copy of emergency numbers, Include the nearest police station, as well as the fire and rescue department (Bomba), in case the peace and order situation deteriorates. You should also be aware of who you need to contact in case someone in your household displays the symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease.

X. Stock Up on Sufficient Provisions

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The partial lockdown is in effect until 31 March 2020 and could possibly be extended if the number of infected individuals continues to increase. Although supermarkets are still allowed to operate, it’s advisable to procure and set aside sufficient provisions so that you don’t need to go out from time to time and risk getting exposed to COVID-19.

According to experts, it’s ideal to stock up on food for each person and pet in your household that can last for 14 days. Prioritise canned goods and dry foodstuffs that are easy to prepare.

Infectious disease experts also added that people should keep at least 30 days’ worth of their prescription medicine. Furthermore, don’t forget the hygiene products, such as hand sanitiser, soap, tissues, toilet paper, diapers, and feminine care products.

But on another note, do however avoid overbuying and leave some goods for your fellow mates. We are all in this together after all, and overbuying will not just leave you with the possibility of a lot of rotten foodstuffs after the pandemic is over – you may also be forcing your fellow mates who cannot afford food delivery to tighten their belts during this period.

For more Guides like this, please visit PropSocial’s discussion page.

(Written by G. Zizan, 23rd March 2020)


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Today 25/3/20 add on another 2 weeks lockdown

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My wish come true, enjoying work from home for a month :)