It's been close to a year since my colleagues and I made the transition from working in the office to working from home, and this has kind of made me miss "the good ol' days" of laughter and banter in the shared work space.
You see, even before the government announced plans for the Circuit Breaker (CB) in March 2020, our company decided back in February that it was too risky for all of us to physically continue working together.
This decision was reinforced by the fact that the number of Covid-19 cases in the community kept climbing, and how it soon became apparent that no one was truly "safe" from getting the virus.
I have to admit that when our boss first broke news of working remotely to us, I was pretty excited.
I mean, what could be better than getting to wake up later in the morning, wearing pyjamas while working, and saving money on transport fees to the office?
Turns out - a lot, actually.
After weighing the pros and cons, here are three of my biggest reasons why it's better to work in the office than at home, especially when my office is Mothership.
1) You actually get to socialise and have fun
The first reason - and might I add the most important reason - why working at the office is better than working from home is because you actually get to socialise and have fun.
I don't know about other workplaces in Singapore, but the Mothership office is pretty much a hotbed of laughter and activity during meal times and breaks.
Working from home really took the enjoyment out of work when I couldn't physically see or interact with my colleagues on a daily basis (especially since lunchtime was essentially when we would have heart-to-heart talks about life, memes and… just about anything under the sun.)
Unlike when I was working in the office, I felt way more isolated when working at home, and didn’t feel like I was getting the emotional and social support I needed.
Now that we have allocated days to go back to the office, I’ve come to appreciate the presence of my colleagues a whole lot more.
We are not only each other’s encouragers and support networks, but also tab-keepers on each other’s mental well-being.
Likewise, my colleagues have also expressed their gratitude in going back to the office on our allocated days, as their quality of work has seen a drastic improvement compared to the CB period.
(Plus, getting to speak to actual faces and not black screens at meetings is also a huge bonus.)
2) Better balance between work and rest
Before Covid-19 happened, work would typically end at around 6:30pm or 7pm, after I left my laptop in the office and went home.
When I was working from home, however, it seemed as if I had to remain contactable at all times.
Need to do last minute edits for an article at 9pm? Sure.
Reply work messages on a weekend? Sure.
Stay up till 12 midnight for a Covid-19 update from MOH? Sure.
It was as if the boundaries between work and rest were permanently blurred simply because we were at home all the time.
This not only took a toll on my productivity at work, since I was churning out fewer articles per day, but also the quality of my work, as I found myself making more and more errors in my writing.
For the first few months, all of this was still bearable, but as time went on, I soon felt like I was approaching burnout and had to take a few days off work.
I even developed a rather itchy and nerve-wracking (pun intended) case of shingles because of all the built up stress.
Unlike working from home, there is a better balance between work and rest when I work in the office.
Meal times and end-of-work hours are fixed, and we even have a designated nap area just in case any of us wants to catch a few winks before resuming our tasks.
These short breaks not only help my colleagues and I perform better in our work, but also keep us focused and alert so that we can avoid accidents or injuries.
3) You are more active and mindful of what you eat
Which brings me to my next point.
After the CB period, I actually put on around 5kg as a result of the sedentary lifestyle of staying home and not watching what I eat.
How I rationalised my rather careless bingeing of food and lack of exercise was that this was a period of "social deprivation" and "suffering", and should therefore warrant indulgences in other areas such as food and lazing around.
Contrary to my fallacious reasoning, eating more and not exercising during the CB period now burdens me with more physical activity, as I've since made a resolution to consciously try and lose the extra weight.
When I work from the office, however, I am physically more active.
Because I personally don't like exercising, having to make weekday commutes to the office has actually helped me remain active without over-exerting myself, and I've even come to enjoy these short walks here and there.
This has also reminded me that I should take better care of my health for the sake of my personal well being and the quality of my work.
If you'd like to identify how your personal health habits and lifestyle affects your work performance and safety at work, click here to take this quiz designed by the Workplace Safety and Health Council.
You’ll be able to discover what your persona is and receive tips on how you can improve your health and lifestyle habits, as well as be safe at work.
You can also learn from the bite-sized educational messages on the microsite and share them with your co-workers to remind them to stay safe and healthy.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. We understand that working in the office is not necessarily the best and only approach to staying healthy for everyone as some people may have to continue working from home or enter hybrid working arrangements for various reasons. Having said that, we would still like to encourage readers to get up and get out of their homes after work to stay fit, and to physically interact more with others whenever possible.
This sponsored article by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council made this writer thankful to be able to work in the office.
Top image via Melanie Lim