Disclaimer: Not everyone has the privilege of working from home. This is for those whose work doesn’t require 24/7 physical attendance at the workplace.
I’ve realized since the day I started working that going to work is costly – both money and time-wise. For one, I work in Kuala Lumpur Golden Triangle where housing prices there or nearby are just ridiculously expensive. For a single individual in the city, it’s almost impossible to rent a room for yourself that does not take a quarter or even half of your paycheck. Renting a whole house? Impossible! For that reason, I decided to live out of Kuala Lumpur where renting a comfortable room/house is fairly affordable but then… there’s transportation cost, i.e. petrol and toll.
Working at the Office
I still have to work at the office for the time being, with occasional working from home days. Don’t fancy the former much because of the high costs. This is MY average daily costs for work:
To round off, RM20 per day just to get to and fro work. That’s RM400 per month! Perhaps I should’ve just lived near the office where I can take public transports but I’ve done the calculations; the combination of rent and transportation, either way, would cost me the same, so the determining factor here is the pleasure of having my own space and privacy. That’s why I chose to stay far from my office.
However, for those of you who don’t mind sharing your space etc, by all means, live near your workplace. Because time wise, you can save a lot of time (if you don’t have to go through the jam during rush hours).
Every day I spend on average one hour and a half in the car to get to and fro work. I don’t live near the train station (that’s why the rent is cheap) but I’ve tried taking the train to work. Personally, it’s not working as it’s taking even longer because I have to drive myself to the train station.
I think it’s also fair to include the time spent to get ready and dress up for work because admit it, most days you don’t need to dress up especially on those days that you are just stuck with paperwork in your cubicle/office room – but you still do.
And oh, don’t get me started on the 30 minutes here and there that we all take to “prepare” ourselves mentally in the morning or after lunch to get into our working mode. Also the mini chit chat with colleagues? That takes forever.
Working from Home
The days that I got to work from home – I love it! I save money and time. The hours I spend in the car can be used for house chores or laundry (so I can rest during the weekend), or just an extra hour of sleep! Money on toll and gas can be stretched longer.
Work productivity-wise – if it’s a task that requires intense focus or brainpower, I swear I can get it done much more efficiently and effectively at home.
I’m not alone on that because here’s a study from Oxford University:
A 2014 study from Oxford University found that working from home increased employee performance by 13 percent. The productivity boost could even be seen by the workers themselves. According to a PGi report in the same year, 70 percent of workers in the sample said that telecommuting had improved their productivity. Reasons for the improvement include fewer distractions, optimal hour distribution and lower stress from commuting.; Will COVID-19 ultimately change the way we work? – The Jakarta Post
This personally has made me question the whole foundation of working at the office 9 to 5 culture that we’re having now – why do we have to get somewhere to do work on our computers that can be done from the comfort of our own home?
This may be the answer:
What was behind our general aversion to allowing people to work from home, especially if they found it more productive?
Howard Yu, MD Business School LEGO Professor of Management and Innovation called it “fundamental conservatism”. Simply put, most bosses believe that when employees are absent, they are not working.; Commentary: COVID-19 has stripped work to bare bones – was all that excess needed anyway? – Channel News Asia
- A New Study Reveals Why Working from Home Makes Employees More Productive – Inc.
- A 2-Year Stanford Study Shows the Astonishing Productivity Boost of Working from Home – Inc. (The research recommends enabling working from home just a few days a weeks versus its being a constant)
WFH is the future
Now in this current situation with this whole COVID-19 pandemic, working from home may be the future. With the world’s technological advancements, it is no longer far-fetched to adopt WFH for lines of work which can be done remotely.
Looking at the time and cost factors, working from home is a sound choice. We can save a chunk of our paycheck doing the same exact work at home. From a productivity perspective, results may vary as it is also a matter of individual preference.
For me, work actually got done on the same rate of productivity, if not more, at home. Without the money and time costs!
But I understand that some prefer working in the office, due to the proper office set-up at work or unconducive working environment at home.
- Covid-19: Making the Most of Working from Home – UTM Newshub (an internal survey conducted by UTM shows that 73% out of 1040 respondents prefer working in the office)
- Working from home was a luxury for the relatively affluent before coronavirus – not any more – World Economic Forum (US based article)
As per the concept of fundamental conservatism above, some bosses may have concerns regarding the productivity levels of employees. On this, work ethics and employers-employees trust are the foundation. If both sides can maintain these, then WFH is the way to go.
Companies and employers may realize by now that having their employees working at the office only as and when necessary is actually cost-effective. For example, companies can cut office rental and maintenance if they come up with a rotation system where employees share work station on alternate days, or instead of having to travel somewhere for meetings, the meetings can be done via video conference hence less traveling claims.
- #TECH: COVID-19 pandemic is changing employers’ perception of remote-work policies – New Straits Times
- Commentary: COVID-19 is reshaping what work looks like – Channel News Asia
- Work from Home: Has the Future of Work Arrived? – Glassdoor Economic Research (so many beautiful data here)
How about you, WFH (working from home) or WAO (working at the office)?