Cultivating discipline to work from home

The concept of working from home is rather new for many. What steps can they take to make the most out of it?


THE Movement Control Order (MCO) is now extended until April 28 and by now, those working from home would have learned that functioning efficiently outside the office is not as easy as it sounds.

For parents working from home, time management is essential in order for them to juggle meeting deadlines and taking care of their family and household chores.

Civil servants working from home during this period are required to comply with three conditions stipulated in a circular issued by Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman on March 17.

The first condition is that they have to be at home during working hours; second, be ready to come to the office or any other place when told to do so; and third, be contactable at all times during working hours.

According to the circular, disciplinary action can be taken against civil servants who flout any condition unless they have secured the permission of their head of department.

Government employees are subject to the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 and other regulations issued from time to time.

The concept of working from home is rather new for the public sector. What steps can they take to make the most out of working from home?

Maintain Work-life Balance

Shell Malaysia country human resources director Shazmi Ali shares a few tips on working from home in his self-made video posted on Facebook. The video had close to 10,000 views.

“What works for me and what works for you might be different, but for me, step No 1 is not to change your routine, do what you usually do before you go to work,” he said, referring to the morning routine such as taking a shower and having a cup of coffee to kick-start the day.

For Shazmi, what to wear when working from home is an individual choice. But he recommends that everyone gets out of their pyjamas and wears something comfortable for the rest of the day.

Communication plays an important part in ensuring the success of working from home

Having a dedicated workspace is also another key factor to work from home efficiently. The size of the space is not an issue as long as it is big enough to fit a laptop, documents or any other items needed to get the job done, he said.

Lastly, he recommends frequent breaks between tasks as well as allocating time for the family. Getting up from your seat and stretching, as well as playing with the children are essential in maintaining a work-life balance.

“In these testing times, let me reiterate, it is not easy. We all think working from home is easy but it is not…things might get difficult. I have young kids.

“You need to explain to your wife, kids or parents that, ‘I’m going to be doing calls’, ‘I’m going to be working from home’, ‘I’m home, but I’m not on holiday’, and they’ll understand.

“I was in an online meeting and my kids joined me. Not that I wanted them to join me, they even let out a scream or two for every- one to hear. But hey, that’s fine right? That’s what working from home is all about,” he quipped.

Daily Work Target

For traveller and digital nomad Faiz Najmi, he sets a daily key performance indicator to measure the value of work completed every day.

(A digital nomad is someone who works remotely from different locations in the country or worldwide.)

He feels that this way, he can observe flexible working hours and yet be able to complete his work effectively.

“Instead of creating an impossible schedule (for myself), I set a KPI, such as (completing) three pages of a thesis every day. If I want to sleep, I go to sleep as long as the work is done. If I feel I want to postpone my work, I would sit in front of my laptop for about 20 minutes and then I would start working,” he said.

To be an efficient digital nomad, one has to take good care of one’s physical, mental and emotional health.

“One can exercise by just walking up and down the stairs or do yoga, push-ups and sit-ups. Of course, reading all that news on social media about Covid-19 can make one feel anxious, so limit social media to half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening,” said Faiz, who also has a medical degree.

Don’t Break Anyone’s Trust

Muhammad Aizat Abdul Razak, 35, who has been working from home for the past one year managing social media advertisements for his clients, said his experience taught him that to work from home successfully, the element of trust is crucial.

“Any manager or head who is working from home for the first time must trust his team. Trust is the keyword here. As for the team, they shouldn’t take advantage of working from home and shouldn’t break the trust,” he said.

His team prepares a “to do” list every morning, he said, adding that if possible, an online meeting would be held to keep every- one informed of the daily work schedule.

Muhammad Aizat said communication also played an important part in ensuring the success of working from home. His team has a policy of responding to messages within 30 minutes and if anyone has a personal matter to attend to, he/she has to keep the head informed.

At the end of the working day, his team members would share their list of assignments they had completed successfully.


Those who have never worked from home prior to the MCO and would like to familiarise themselves with the concept can seek more information from several online resources.

Career networking website LinkedIn has a blog that shares links to short videos on work from home-related topics such as maximising productivity and efficiency, managing stress and managing teams remotely.

Time magazine also has some interesting reading material on the buddy system:

Website shares work from home articles on

In short, there are many ways to make your work from home stint successful. Choose the way that is most suited to you and your organisation’s needs. The most important thing is to ensure that you meet your work targets and quality.

Who knows after the MCO period is over, companies and bosses would become more open to allowing their employees to work from home. — Bernama