2020-12-16T17:24:04-05:00Mar 30, 2020|

Working from home: Making ‘WFH’ work with structure and routine

From an interview with Siang Khor, Tech Lead at Arrive


Over the past number of years, working from home (WFH) has become increasingly normal for an ever-growing segment of the workforce – especially those in tech. Employees working remotely a day or two a week has become a matter of course in many forward-thinking businesses. In today’s environment, where we are social distancing to curtail the spread of COVID- 19, working from home is suddenly the new norm. For those who aren’t used to this way of working, this presents new challenges in terms of maintaining productivity and work-life balance.

At Arrive, we are all working from home, and we’ve invited members of our team to share their best tips. First up, is Siang Khor, our  tech lead. He manages everything technology-related. Whether it’s creating algorithms to ensure you’re making meaningful connections, or making Arrive the ‘go-to’ platform for newcomers in Canada – all smooth, with no laggy responses.

We asked Siang to walk us through a typical day working from home and how he makes it work. This is Siang’s story.


Routine helps structure my day

I like structure and routine. So, even though it is a bit harder working and living in the same space, I try to create routines for myself while working at home.

I understand that not everybody is like me and some people like to intertwine work and life, and they’re able to juggle between the competing priorities easily. But for me, I operate better with a set structure and a clear work routine.

It’s hard to trick your brain into thinking, “Oh, I’m actually working” in the place where it usually relaxes and de-stresses. So, every day I wake up around the same time as if I was going to the office. I’m more of a Lark – a morning person. So, I’ll get up, and I’ll check the news, see what’s going on in the world, take a shower, and then have breakfast. That brings me to around 8:10.

I would normally commute to work, but since I live (and now work) in a condo, I use that time differently. I don’t go to work any earlier – but I leave my building around the same time each day and take a ten to twenty-minute walk. When I come back up, around 8:30 my mind is pretty clear, and I can transition into the work that needs to be done for the day

I also follow the ritual of dressing up for work. So that means picking out a nice shirt – a dress shirt – to kind of get into the work zone and office frame of mind. This helps me focus. To further reduce distractions, the people I live with need to respect certain boundaries and allocate specific times for communication.

My team starts the day with our daily team video conference at 8:50 – this is super important for us to stay connected. We catch up, and we share what’s going on in each other’s life, how everybody’s doing and we discuss what needs to be accomplished for the day. That goes to around 9:30.

Basically, that’s how each day starts.

For the rest of the time, it’s figuring out what needs to be done, whether it’s jumping on meeting calls or it’s doing heads-down work to make sure that we can deliver on all of our tech priorities

Figure out what works best for you and those you work with

You have to figure out what works for you. It’s different for everyone. You have to be mindful in terms of the culture of the wider team, too. Because to a certain extent, the culture of the team can influence you. Some people communicate better on the phone, while others like to see each other when they are talking. Communication is important. So, take the time to figure out the best way to communicate for everyone.

Also, be mindful of meeting fatigue. I know in our early days of working from home when we tried to simulate in-person conversations, there were times when it felt very tiring being in many meetings and having the webcam on so much.  It takes a while to get used to the new normal.

 Trust the people on your team and yourself to make the right decisions. If you have concerns, definitely bring them up to either somebody you can trust or management or a leader with your team.

It can be difficult to create a distinction between work and life when both are happening in the same place, but rituals can help. For instance, I try to use the clothing I wear as an indicator to separate work and life.

As I mentioned, I wear a dress shirt when I’m working from home. So, after I take off that dress shirt and change into something more casual, it’s basically back to what I normally do at home. My brain naturally shifts towards non-work mode. I try to start and end my work day around the same time every day. That way, I know that once I’m off work, for the most part, I can focus on the things that I need to do outside of work.    

Looking for more ways to stay productive while working from home? Read our article on 3 tips for working from home.