How to work from home productively, according to a professional

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Work-from-home is still work; it’s not a vacation. You need to be productive as if you’re still in the office. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — When the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines began to escalate, some companies in Metro Manila were forced to adopt a tentative work-from-home setup as a safety measure. Just recently, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an “enhanced community quarantine” for the whole of Luzon, which will strictly prohibit the mobilization of the Filipino workforce. Transportation will be suspended and non-essential establishments will be closed. Because of this, many companies have shifted to working from home.

A huge disclaimer often overlooked about working from home is that it is just as demanding as the standard office-based job. Building the momentum of productivity is never an easy task when the comfort of your bed is merely steps away from your desk, and when no co-worker is present to keep you in check. It takes discipline and the right mindset to be successful in remote work. After all, work-from-home is still work; it’s not a vacation. You need to be productive as if you’re still in the office.

To help everyone out, we consulted Eunice Punzalan, a digital marketer and the community manager of Filipino Freelancers with Australian clients. Punzalan has been working from home for almost three years. She is an advocate of remote work and helps Filipinos transition to remote work for their life goals.


1. Keep a good working space at home.

It doesn’t need to be a dedicated home office. It’s good to start with a table and a comfortable chair. If you don’t have these, here’s a personal tip: use your ironing board as a table.

2. Make sure you have a stable internet connection.

Internet connection is the lifeblood of a work-from-home setup. Without it, it’s impossible to make it work, literally. If worst comes to worst, bank on friendly connections and ask your neighbor’s WiFi password as back up or for when your connection is unstable. Also have a data plan or pocket WiFi just in case.

Typically, an Internet speed of 5 to 10 mbps would suffice for regular work, but for creatives who upload massive file sizes, it would be best to have 20 mbps and above.

3. Invest in a reliable computer and tools.

It’s easy if your company would provide you with laptops and other electronic necessities. But for those whose employers don’t, you may want to purchase or borrow a laptop or computer that is actually updated. Use a core i3 or above as processor with 4GB RAM.


1. Have a morning ritual.

Morning rituals set the tone for the day. It’s like a boost in the morning: it really helps set the mood for productivity and brain stimulation.

This will be different for a lot of people. For me, it’s getting my work playlist ready, or brewing coffee or tea.

2. Use cloud storage.

This will be for easy collaboration and transferring of data between your teammates. Your team can utilize Google Drive, Dropbox, or any file-sharing tool to digitize your work assets. Gone are the days that you store files in your local drive.

3. Manage your time wisely.

Since there are plenty of distractions at home, my personal tip to get things done is to smart time management. I personally use the Pomodoro method. Pomodoro is setting 25 to 30-minute intervals of work, followed by a 5 to 10-minute break.

Our brains want instant gratification. The Pomodoro method tricks your mind into focusing on your task for that short amount of time, and to indulge in your breaks as reward for your hard work.

4. Manage expectations and always update your progress.

The biggest concern of your employers in a work-from-home setup is trusting that you are doing your job. You have numerous distractions at home. The child running around, chores, social media updates, and Netflix while eating your favorite chips in bed. How can you assure your boss that you are working?

Always update the team of your progress and set the expected time of delivery. Nobody wants to doubt what you’re doing. It’s your job to let them know. Acknowledge their messages and emails. Send them a direct message on Skype or send them a text message every two hours or so. You can use messaging apps such as Skype, Facebook Workplace, Messenger, Telegram, or Zoom to keep the conversation open. You can even have a virtual conference call if you need to.

5. Use a time-tracking software to capture your screen activity.

Sometimes, messaging is not enough. Your company might not be accustomed to letting their employees work without someone supervising them. You can use a compromise: a time-tracking software to capture your screen activity. With this, they have a virtual assurance that you’re doing your work well. In turn, you can be accountable for your productivity at home.