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Some of us love WFH because we get to answer emails in our PJs and snap wefies with our pets all day long. Photo: 123RF

Working From Home? Things HR Never Says About It (Or Prefers Not To)

There’s a new acronym in town that friends and work contacts have been name-dropping in their e-mails, WhatsApp messages and Instagram DMs these last two weeks. 

It’s WFH.

If you don’t know what it means, you most likely still go to school, work in a job that doesn’t let you telecommute – I mean, try telecommuting if you are a dentist, a tuina therapist or a Baby Shark mascot – or you have a membership pass at some co-working space where you spend 98% of your time sipping complimentary single-origin coffee brews. 

WFH stands for “working from home”, something that isn’t a remote, novelty concept to those of us who have been stay-home parents/grandparents, homemakers and freelancers before things got viral (and we don’t mean viral as in how that photo of Brad Pitt holding Jennifer Aniston’s wrist at the SAG Awards went viral). 

Some of us love WFH because we get to answer emails in our PJs, we can siam peak hour traffic and Grab surge rates, we can snap wefies with our pet terrapin all day long, and we don’t have to speak with that busybody colleague with the bad breath. 

Yet, some of us loathe WFH because we need a routine that involves putting on hair gel, not giving up our MRT seats and being the busybody colleague with the bad breath. Or we may have naggy, needy family members at home who think that WFH means “We Free Hor” and who always have an errand or chore for us. And, what, we get to see our beloved frolleagues on Skype only? 

Whichever camp you belong in, WFH could be a very real thing in your working life from now on. And here is what you should know – but your bosses and HR shouldn’t – from this writer who’s been WFH for the past 1,825 days.


What time to go to work and what time to knock off?

If you are paid the same salary, then you should be working the same official hours. 

But. Who actually works every single minute in the office or starts work proper at 8.30am anyway (yes, we are looking at you with the half-hour breakfast session in the canteen, even though you are in the office on the dot every day)? 

If you are meeting your deadlines and answering urgent emails ASAP, you can start work later. Because even checking your emails in bed is considered working these days, right. 

And what time do you go home? Er, you are already at home.


Can I catch Pokemon or binge watch Crash Landing On You?

Since people do unproductive things in a real-life office all the time anyway – like attending 5pm town hall meetings on Fridays – why not? That is, if nobody’s waiting for you to submit a marketing proposal or approve their operations budget.


Must I have a proper home office?

You probably need nothing more than your smartphone and laptop. But invest in a good chair (anything that says ergonomic and memory foam) and plant this at a height-appropriate table. If you thought that it would be good enough and fun to WIB (work in bed), talk to us again after three days and we will recommend you a good chiropractor.


Who pays for the electricity, water and toilet paper at home?

Watch your bills shoot up! You can be chao kuan and park yourself at a café with free Wifi, free air-con and free drinking water. Or get your employers/HR team to think about giving you a WFH electricity and water allowance.


Can I go out for lunch or not?

At work, you have your lunch hour and so, the only thing you should feel guilty about is that upsized burger and fries set you are eating. Easily-hangry people appreciate how WFH means you can eat any time you like and not have to fight lunchtime crowds or receive “due to an overwhelming number of orders, we will be delivering your food only in 2040” alerts. 

We would, however, stop at sneaking out for brunch and then lunch and then high tea… and being stupid enough to post #whatIatewheniwassupposedtobeWFH photos on IG. If you do, make your account private or keep your Stories for “Close Friends” only.


Must I dress nice nice or can I work naked? 

Once upon a time when we still watched television, there was the urban legend of newscasters wearing nice things only from the waist up and putting on shabby shorts and slippers where the TV lights don’t shine. Take inspiration from that urban legend, especially if your bosses or clients are prone to Skype-ing you suddenly… and you look like a Stone Age hooman without makeup, hair products or/and clothes.


Should I still get a MC if I fall sick?

When you no longer have to fight toxic colleagues every day, when you no longer have to inhale your co-worker’s sneeze droplets (and his stinky cologne), when you no longer have to sit in a windowless office with an air-conditioning system that hasn’t been cleaned since air-conditioners were invented, it gets harder to fall sick. True story.

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