Remote Working: An Employee’s Perspective

Remote Working: An Employee’s Perspective

A co-working facility? Time-zones? What are some pain points or plus points? Will it work for my organisation? Perhaps you are an employer who is unsure what is the best way of working now that you know working from home can work. 

To complement a recent article by Harvard Business Review, “What’s the Optimal Workplace for Your Organization?” Huixian Foo, our HR & Talent Coordinator, has penned a personal opinion piece based on her first-hand experience. Read on to hear what Huixian has to say…

cultivate is a remote-first company. For us, that means that no matter where we are in the world, we are all on the same playing field. We emphasise asynchronous communication using Slack to communicate internally and externally with our clients. We have the option to utilise a co-working space, if we wish, or we can work from home, or another part of the country or world! In my first three months with cultivate, here is my experience:

1. Work from home first-timer
It is undoubtedly a more relaxing start to my day to wake up later without needing to take public transport and having the option to work in casual clothes. However, there is an unexpected increase in tension and a lack of boundaries working from home. Because I live with other people, the lack of personal space and different ideas of what boundaries mean clash against each other in our apartment.  Also, I need to ensure I consciously separate work and rest meaningfully, lest I keep working without a break forgetting my own limitations.

Due to the nature of my work which can be done independently without needing to meet physically, this is successful in large part to our regular team huddles and communication via Slack.

2. Trialling co-working
Over the past three months, I have been fortunate to trial the All Access package at WeWork. Meaning, I can work from any of the WeWork locations in Singapore. There are, of course, the more superficial reasons why this arrangement is so enjoyable. I can choose the office I want to go to based on my dinner location (or even by what I am craving for lunch – be it Wanton Mee next to the Prinsep WeWork, or Gyudons opposite the Raffles branch). And if I am really honest, the free coffee, tea, and stickers in an airconditioned building with good views? Unbeatable.

Covid co-working means that I didn’t get to attend any networking events (bugger), but I did meet some friendly people! WeWork staff are amazing (shoutout to Kritika and Asraf for the many conversations we had!), and there are some incredibly friendly people working there from all over the world. You can also choose to work without distraction at a nook in a corner, with the numerous seats in each location. Co-working allows you to still keep to a structure more similar to a typical office; a period to go out and explore food options (with friends, or not) and travelling time does help you keep the separation of work and play.

With all of the pro’s of co-working, it does come with some pain points. Hot-desking means that I have to  bring my laptop, wires, and stand. Sometimes, the good seat by the window, with proper back support has already been taken. It can also be lonely when most workers hot desk with colleagues whereas I am often there by myself. While it is possible to network and make friends with your table mates, the truth is that such interactions aren’t the norm unless you make a conscious effort to do so.

3. Hybrid
What joy that such a way of working exists these days! From April, we will be trialling having a fixed office where I can keep my belongings and set up my workspace. The ability to head into an office and collaborate when needed or stay home on the days I have personal zoom meetings at night is delightfully freeing. It allows me to decide where I am more productive for deep work and balance my personal commitments when I want to work from home or a different location. 

Of course, I recognise that this is also only possible due to having a boss who doesn’t mind where I work as long as I get my work done (well). Though a bit strange for someone who isn’t used to it, the freedom to plan my time is also somewhat motivational to get my best work done wherever I am and learn to prioritise my health and needs.

As cultivate continues to grow, our needs and approaches will likely change. However, for now, experimenting with what works for us and weighing up the pros and cons is a great learning experience!