March 23, 2020

Save Points — Working from Home

The world is in the midst of the world’s largest remote working experiment in the face of COVID-19. What was once an opportunity granted to only a select few, it’s clear that we’re embarking on and accelerating a new approach towards work. There’s no doubt that remote working existed pre-pandemic, but for a few of the MAEKAN members, they’re quickly putting the format through its paces.

The Community’s Take

A few members of the MAEKAN community shared with us their thoughts:

Philippe H. in Hong Kong contemplates a big question:

“I’m wondering how society will change if a lot of us will actually get more choice to work from home or not. Should have quite some impact. I’m leaning towards it being a negative thing, individualizing us even more.”

💡 Jenny S. in Beijing shares with us some of her initial learnings:

“(Scheduling) Morning meetings are always effective to discourage colleagues from sleeping-in, which initially had pissed off my seniors big time. I’ve always had an 8-6 office job, so I found it quite hard to mentally “get off work” while working from home. I think my productivity level hasn’t been hugely affected, but it’s just unhealthy to keep working until late.”

👍 Behzod S. in San Francisco outlines some definitive pros to working from home:

I’m very fortunate that I have a standup desk and a setup I like at home, so the biggest adjustment is simply being in my space all day with my girlfriend who is also working from home.

We have had to adjust our schedules to include time for cooking at home, walks outside to break up the being indoors all day, and exercise not at a gym. That said, I appreciate the control and flexibility that it affords and assuming you have a level of discipline (or create a schedule), I’m all for it.

I don’t think WFH is for everyone, and I think you need to be set up for it (not sitting on your couch), but I’m optimistic that this whole crisis will force us to rethink a lot of things about how we work.

Behzod also provides a few things that make WFH more enjoyable:

🎵 Good music! I can’t listen to words while I’m working, so Tycho is often my artist of choice, though Spotify has a lot of great focus playlists I would recommend.

🏢 A dedicated workspace (and standing desk if that’s your thing): I bought a Fully Jarvis right around the time I started at Slack and it’s been incredibly worth it. This doesn’t work for everyone, but having a dedicated work space is super helpful and allows me to be in flow a lot better than sitting on my couch. If nothing else, get an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

Zoom Coffees! I’ve set up a few Zoom coffees with friends, colleagues, and family this week so that being in my apartment doesn’t feel as isolating.

Yeah, it’s so different choosing to work remotely than having it forced upon you.”

Jeremy L. in Brooklyn explains some of the initial challenges:

“This week has been rough, my Brooklyn apartment feels small during daylight hours and I’ve had to adjust my time budgeting around meal prepping and taking breaks/walks around the block.

Next week, I feel more optimistic with some planned one-on-one work sessions with a friend. This whole thing has really made me realize how valuable it is to simply be able to look far into the physical distance, even from an office window onto the streets below.”

🎮 Yannick L. in Paris explains how his industry has been less affected relative to his counterparties in other sporting arenas:

“It’s OK. WFH is pleasant, I can’t lie. The situation could be worst. Working in the e-sports industry is “interesting” when the rest of the sports world is on hold — our players are good to perform as long as they stay in a safe place.”

From our end

For much of the MAEKAN team in Hong Kong, the past year has created conditions that necessitate working more and more from home, whether it be the current COVID-19 pandemic or the over six months of protests that preceded it. A few members of the MAEKAN team had some thoughts on WFH:

🤔 Eugene ponders the challenges of staying focused:

“I work from home a few days a week and it’s not always the most productive. I find when you have no definitive start/stop (like entering and leaving an office), things drag on. It’s far too easy to stretch out tasks because you know your workday is suddenly 16 passive/chill hours versus a deliberate 8 hours.”

🔗 Charis reflects on the boost in social connectivity despite physical distance:

“Since I have been primarily working as a freelancer for the past 4.5 years, I’m used to setting my own schedule and working alone at home. The difference now is that everyone else is also constantly online and virtually gathering together. It’s actually been a nice change for me that I get to regularly voice and video call with groups of people for both work and social reasons. I think the real difficulty for me hasn’t been working from home, but working in the time of a global pandemic—I’ve found that even work relationships have become a form of social support.”

🧠 Scott enjoys the added flexibility and accountability:

“I enjoy working from home because it cuts out all the unnecessary bullshit from a normal work environment and allows for real focus time. The hard part is staying disciplined, but as long as you set the alarm, you get it done. I think many people are still adjusting to this new reality, but after a few weeks, people will find their grooves and thoroughly enjoy it. It just takes a little planning to get in rhythm. The one drawback is not knowing when to stop. I find myself working a lot more these days, so it’s also important to set boundaries.”

🥳 Nate is building anticipation back into this new work-life rhythm:

“As a freelancer, I’ve embraced the different creative energies that come from working on the couch, at my desk or parked at one of thousands of coffee shops before switching locations when the work is done. But in isolation, there are no choices any more; the office is around you when you wake up and long after you finish. The challenge is building after-hours anticipation when there’s no more rec league, group dinners, travel or events waiting after 7pm — or even in the foreseeable future. This pandemic may have made homebodies of us all, but it’s also driven us to be creative at finding joy in our otherwise upended work-life rhythms.”

How about you? How are you holding up amid this uncertain situation? What’s been the biggest challenge and how have you solved it? Feel free to write us at or DM us on Instagram.

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