A Complete Guide to Working from Home During A Pandemic (Handy Every 100 Years)

It has not been easy for everybody in 2020. Since the beginning of the year, COVID-19 has taken the earth by the collar and shaken it until it eventually sneezes out a good chunk of her population. While the medical staffs and the authorities are trying their best to contain the virus across the globe, the rest of us stay home and try to get by with our lives. 

In order to keep things even remotely moving, new normal practices have been introduced. Restaurants closed. Schools postponed. And majority of the offices have asked their employees to work from home. It may sound like a simple list of procedures to help kick out the virus but some people are really struggling to get their daily routines in order during this period. We cannot be so much of help for restaurants and schools so we have tried to come up with a few guidelines for those who have not been able to keep up with the new normal aka working from home.    

  1. Set Off Alarm

Remember how you used to set up the morning alarm for 30 minutes ahead of the actual time so you can snooze off every 5 minutes and take multiple little naps until you must absolutely wake up? Or remember when you feel such hatred towards that alarm sound nagging you to get out of bed so you don’t get a third warning in one week? Or remember when you wish you didn’t have to wake up at all? No more of it. Set your alarm off, enjoy the latest Netflix show and sleep in. It’s the very first approach towards working from home properly. 

2. Top up VISA/Master Card

In order to completely enjoy the life without a set alarm, you must have access to all the entertainment platforms which usually operate on card payment system. If you worked your ass off prior to the pandemic filling out a ton of paperwork, going back and forth to the one and only branch with a special power to issue a card, you are likely to have at least two debit/credit cards by the time you are reading this. Make sure you have sufficient $ balance in those cards for at least six-month-subscription fees of all your entertainment needs so that you can fully appreciate the pleasure you so deserve. If you don’t already own a card at this point in life, shame on you. 

3. Do not Answer Work Calls Before 11 AM

Don’t you just hate it when a colleague or a client calls you up at 8 am in the morning and straightaway asks something that you have no freaking clue or energy to respond? Believe it or not, you have all the rights to ignore and even tell off people if they call/email you about work before noon on a weekday. They must be educated that this is “work from home” period and that means it’s extremely inappropriate in trying to get in touch with another living soul before 11 am even as a matter of urgency. In case people neglect the gentle reminder and still try to reach you before your comfortable hours, you are encouraged to report the issue with HR. You could even lawyer up if they get out of control and don’t stop calling you until you answer.

4. Do Not Take a Leave of Absence 

HR Myanmar Monthly has reported that the number of sick leaves taken in workplaces during the previous three months accounted for only 0.03% from that of the same period in 2019. It’s a positive sign, we can probably assume that people at home are being very healthy despite all the patients in the hospitals. However, it’s worth reminding here that it makes no sense taking a leave of absence when you are working from home. For any reason whatsoever. No matter how sick you are, you can still work from home, or at least you can still try to look like you can work from home. What are you going to do at home anyway when you have a day off? So, just don’t. Instead, accumulate those leave days and take two months off when COVID decides to leave us alone. 

5. Delegate & Postpone

It is no secret that one of the key strategies towards building a successful career is learning to delegate. In order to effectively work from home, you have to know when and whom to delegate, in that exact order. When you are given a task and you immediately ask somebody else to do it, you can be on standby for a more important assignment. In the meantime, you can enjoy “working from home”. And whom to delegate? The hardworking ones who do not need credit for every little thing they do. On occasions where it is absolutely impossible to delegate, postpone as much as you can. Work is important; however, work should not interfere with your “working from home” routine too much.

6. Get Your Headsets On

It’s not just your work or colleagues that could get in the way when you are peacefully working from home. Your family members could also ruin the moment. You might be asked to throw out garbage, run errands or participate in family discussions etc. In this case, get your headsets on all the time. Use gigantic headsets if possible. And wear a look that you have undivided attention on whatever it is speaking into your ears.   

7. Join Zoom Conferences

While you have your headsets on, try to find and register yourself in as many online meetings as possible. As you are reading this, there are at least 50 Zoom conferences in central Yangon alone with nearly 100 participants in each session taking place for absolutely no apparent purpose. Spare your judgement and mockery, it’s helpful to look like you are participating in an important online discussion that is about to address every issue of our country in a matter of time. It’s alright if you are clueless of what’s going on. So are many people. Just make sure that the event is put into your google calendar and that you have your camera on when it’s time for a group photo.

8. Say “No” 

Remember that the virus is spreading like wildfire and thus, you have the ultimate power to say no when it’s asked of you to leave your home and do a small work-related favor outside. Whether it’s at the office or somewhere supposedly safe, you don’t risk your life. And more importantly, you don’t risk your “work from home” routine. Just say no.  It’s okay if you must go to an intimate birthday party of your buddy or a little drive around the town but when it comes to working outside home during “work from home”, it’s a big “NO”.

9. Blame COVID 

Last but not the least, remember to blame COVID for everything. Remember when you once had 3 weeks of absence from work and got away with “stomach problems”? COVID could be your stomach problems now. You missed an early team meeting due to a late night? Blame COVID. You forgot to complete a very simple task that would literally take 2 minutes of your time? Blame COVID. You missed a project deadline by a month? Blame COVID. Blame COVID for everything you have failed professionally and personally in 2020. You will be just fine. 

THE END. Of the article. Not your career (hopefully). 

Zwe Oak Soe

Disclaimer: This piece was specifically written to help those who are struggling with the new normal working procedures during the COVID period and every pandemic that may follow. While some of the guidelines may seem applicable beyond the pandemic, they have not been tested nor recommended during non-pandemic seasons. 

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