The Hard Truths of WFH

Tribal Worldwide From Home: In the midst of clearing out my office desk at the start of Phase 1 reopening. The way we work has changed forever. Yes, I had to use a trolley to get everything out.

What was very evident early on for me, was that I could do a lot more things in a day than I would have in the office. For a start, I had shaved off an hour’s commute, twenty minutes of walking to and from lunch. And for a large office, there’s not surprisingly a lot of walking between floors.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this efficient. I even tried attending two meetings at once (not recommended). In the current economic climate, I’m extremely grateful I’m able to put in this much work. We’ve also definitely learned some things about the new working normal:

Goodbye PABX

When we were asked to come into the office last week to clear our desks of paraphernalia and personal debris, one of my younger colleagues asked if we also had to bring home our office-issued personal cordless DID phones. Maybe he was afraid of being scolded by our agency’s receptionist, who used to scold me a couple of times a month for not answering my DID phone when she used to call to tell me there was someone looking for me / Lazada leaving a package at reception / Deliveroo delivering lunch.

Anyone looking to buy 350 sets of pre-loved but seldom used cordless DID handsets?

Trying to get a hold of colleagues is literally one button away on MS Teams, or even on our usual go-to communications app – the ubiquitous WhatsApp chat group (on desktop) – in which we have 3,210 different permutations of work groups.

What you see in this pic: 1. agency-issued MacBook Pro 15″ (2018) 32Mb RAM, 1TB SSD connected via USB-C to Firewire adapter to my old iMac 21″ (2012) as an external display. The laptop floats on a Twelve South Curve laptop stand. An iPad Mini for use as an alarm clock / timer so I can set times to tasks (and be reminded to get off by backside and take a break). An iPad (2019) for note-taking with an Apple Pencil, because the last thing you want is for your home office to be filled with reams of paper. I use Notability – I love it for the voice recording function so I can make sense of what I scribbled at which point in which meeting. Other pieces of hardware shown here: Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Numeric Pad, and Magic Trackpad, both of which are rechargeable via lightning to USB.

Goodbye WIP meetings at Client’s Office

Thank goodness we’re a small country – or else the travel time (and transport claims) would be more than the 15-20 minutes each way just to present findings on a client’s social media content performance. Dear clients, please read the decks, and if you have any questions, we’re just a WebEx or Microsoft Teams meeting away. Or you could just WhatsApp us just like you’ve done for the last four years.

(Zoom is banned from our agency because of persistent security issues)

Goodbye Standing-Room Only Meetings

Creative agencies can only thrive in a collaborative environment – and the most amazing thing that remote working has made possible is that we’ve had teams of over 30 people working on massive projects being in the same meeting. Not physically possible in the past where we had to fight over meeting rooms. I used to have to pull rank and commandeer the pantry for meeting space (tip – make friends with Aunty Chitra our Agency Cleanliness Commander).

Goodbye Agency Colleagues who are MIA

Early on in our WFH arrangement, we had trouble figuring out how to get a hold of people whose desks we’d previously have just moseyed over to so we could break bad news to them such as, “the client has changed their mind, we need to come up with another direction for the campaign” or “I think your idea sucks, but I’m gonna say it was the client that changed their mind, so we need to come up with another direction for the campaign”.

We’d fret over whether to call their mobile or text over WhatsApp or check their Instagram Stories to see if they’re having lunch at home or outside. But two months in, we’ve now figured out that anyone who doesn’t answer a call on Teams within a minute is a Class One Skiving Suspect.

Goodbye Printing Multiple Copies of Briefs / Claims Receipts

Being a former freelancer / sole proprietor, I used to wince when the agency suits would print a copy of a brief for every briefing attendant. The planet thanks you, work from home arrangements, because you have made us realise most people can read PDFs just as well as paper. 

Also, the Electronic Transactions Act has recognised electronic signatures for over a decade now. Hey guys, how about we start burning those paper finance memos and duplicates of claims when Seventh Month comes round in a few weeks?

Also, sorry, printer leasing company, we need to talk.

Night Mode: Forever grateful for the Herman Miller Aeron chair Naomi bought for my 40th (I think). The very sturdy Matthew Hilton Orson desk was acquired in 2012 via a barter deal with Dream Interiors who didn’t have enough cash to hire me to write for their showroom event.
Other hardware in this photo: Kelvin Edge LED Desk Lamp; Canon ImageClass MF645Cx; Apogee Mic+ I got ages ago for my radio DJ gig; Beats EP Wired Headphones; Cheap Taobao Ringlight.

Goodbye Asking IT For More Server Space For Your Team

Our MS OneDrive and Sharepoint is now being used far more efficiently than previously. Being a network agency we’ve always had these at our disposal. Very useful when business leads text you at 9pm on Friday night – when you’re out with your friends for the first time in two months – asking for “I NEED THE LATEST CREDS DECK FOR LAST MINUTE PITCH, YOU HAVE?”

Feels so good when I actually have it on my freaking iPhone!

Goodbye Agency Social Events

Even if not for the long run, I think we’ve had to adapt to keeping in touch in different ways. Team meals used to be a morale booster – and we’ve been experimenting with different ways of doing that – I’ve surprised my team with random meal/snack deliveries and I think it helps with morale the same way our team “snack bar” (my team is known for our diverse range of tidbits from every time a team member comes back from overseas leave) used to. We’re still working this bit out. Yes, we miss Haidilao.

It’s important to keep your dreams alive. Agency insider type joke. I’m not crying. You are.

Goodbye Water-Cooler Gossip

I heard from HR that we bought a new water cooler juuuust before we started WFH. I think that’s gonna last for awhile, now there’s fewer of us going in.

And boy, was I tempted to bring the Nespresso machine home, but I was told that would constitute looting. I was one of the more hardcore ‘office got free coffee’ employees, and now find myself out of pocket trying to keep up with my four capsule a day habit.

Now it’s not as if we had ever spent time hanging around the coffee machine/water cooler talking about people – but it does get hard to suss out how people are feeling. Our remote meetings can’t really see the droop in shoulders or the shuffle of someone down in the mouth. It’s something we’re still trying to figure out – so I guess maybe when we can eventually get back to F2F workspaces, we can do that? Keep you posted on how things go!

My team made remote team lunches weekly and compulsory – and themed as well: this is our #wearwhatwednesday in Prime Ministerial Pink.

Lorem Ipsum

These are interesting times, to say the least. “Circuit Breaker” starts tomorrow, and Hossan and I felt that we had to spend time talking about it, even if we don’t know what form our conversations should take. We just talk cock the way we always do. I don’t know why, but I think it makes us feel better. I hope it makes you feel better too.

Thanks Dwayne for joining us and winging it when we throw you the world’s most difficult questions.

#StayHome and #TalkCock #WithMe

#COVID-19

COVID-19

These are interesting times, and I’m sorry to have been absent from this blog for so long.

I’ll be posting stuff here shortly, so do come back if you’ve stumbled upon it.

If you’re a long time reader, welcome back! I’m looking forward to hanging out with you here again. Just like old times.

The Last Minute Christmas Shopping Guide Part One

That’s it, it’s the last weekend before Christmas, and if you haven’t completed your gift-shopping, here are a few leads to help you along.

That’s it, it’s the last weekend before Christmas, and if you haven’t completed your gift-shopping, here are a few leads to help you along.

I’m always going to be biased in favour of Naomi’s business, so let’s get that out of the way:

Minejima & Co. – Playfully Useful Things

RuMe Everyday Tote
RuMe Everyday Tote – Medium – Moss

Minejima & Co. is the sole distributor and stocks the latest patterns and variants from Colorado-based brand RuMe – so if you’re looking for really useful stocking stuffers – check out RuMe’s range of bags, luggage, key, and pet tags.

Red Infernious Handlebar Hero
This is Red Infernious. He’s a Handlebar Hero.

If you know any kid (or adult) with a bicycle, kick scooter or electric scooter, you have to get them a Handlebar Hero. They’re $34.90 each for the large ones, and $14.90 for the tiny ones, which have been seen in a variety of uses – bag accessory, pony-tail tie, and bracelet.

Goodbyn Bynto Lunch Box
Goodbyn Bynto Lunch Box

What no child wants to hear: School will be back in soon after Christmas – and you may want to get ready with a Goodbyn Bynto lunch box – ours come with a water bottle and two sheets of stickers – for $36.

Minejima & Co. has also recently stocked the fabulous toy store Playhao with our range of award-winning Quut Beach Toys, so you can head down there and grab a set while shopping for other toys. Playhao is located in Forum The Shopping Mall on Orchard Road.

Delivery (free for purchases over $60) usually takes under two days, so you have time to order your stuff at minejima.co now!

It Takes Balls – Join The Maker Revolution

Cast Away Scarf Kit (No Needles)
Cast Away Scarf Kit (No Needles)

To bastardize an old saying: give someone a sweater and s/he has a sweater. teach someone to knit and…. you get the picture. Our good friends It Takes Balls not only has a great business name, they also sell these great knitting kits from another business with a great name, Wool And The Gang.

Join the Maker Revolution: Buy a kit and sign up for an It Takes Balls Knit Party. Email hello@ittakesballs.sg to find out more.

EP Crafters – Upcycled Glassware & Art

Cherry Noir
Grey Goose Tumbler

My friend Steve struck on a great idea last year – upcycling drink bottles and turning them into glasses, plates and lamps. It’s been a hit so far, and he’s now looking to produce more to meet demand.

Pick from vodka, whisky and other alcohol branded bottles which have been expertly cut and sanded into collectors’ item glassware. You could also collect an entire set of Grey Goose flavoured vodka glasses.

Playhao

Märklin Starter Set
Märklin Starter Set

I mention them again because they carry one of my childhood favourites – Märklin train sets, which I hadn’t seen in Singapore for at least 20 years. If you want to give your kid a proper train set – this is the one to start with. It has real metal tracks which carry the electricity to that powers the trains. A good starter kit can be had for $143.

Stay tuned for Part II!

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas #3: Xiao Ming (Chinese Compo) T-Shirt

The perfect gift for those who struggled with CL2 essays: A t-shirt with pre-filled first sentence.

Xiao Ming T-Shirt

Get them while stocks last at A Naiise Christmas Pop-Up Store: 72-74 Dunlop Street
Singapore