Work in Office

Now that working from home is no longer the default, we have people heading back and seeing each other face-to-face in like…a year?

I understand the physical interactions can never be replicated virtually. My industry is one of those that never embrace work from home concept. So essentially, I’m nearly always in the office while the rest of the population are based at home.

Not that my work has to be done in the office, but such is the culture in my industry that they see real work can only be done in the office. And it must be done before the bosses’ eyes.

But moving beyond COVID-19, should we question if there’s a real need to be in the office everyday?

Because the act of going to a place, 5 times a week, to open a laptop and do things that can be done at home, is a bizarre concept.


The Vibrating Phone On A Weekend

The phone vibrated while I was having breakfast. It was Saturday.. My weekend was about to change with a few messages.

I took a bite of the red bean bun. I knew it had to be work-related stuffs because the wave of notification came in fast and aggressive.

The boss ranted. Texts came in swift. Words flew. And we were expected to respond. Deadline was ASAP. How immediate is as soon as possible? Are the bosses expecting us to put away everything on a weekend to come up with something in such notice? Perhaps. Because what I came to realise was that, people adhere to the sometimes unreasonable requests.

But could we really turn down what the bosses want? Even though we don’t work on Saturday?

We couldn’t. I couldn’t. Not if we want to keep our jobs.

The chat was momentarily silent for a while. But the linger effect of unfinished work weighed me down the entire weekend. I couldn’t sleep well. My mind was pre-occupied with work.

I finished my bun, gobbled up the rice and hurried off.


Sleep Can Wait

Time awake: 28 hours and counting. Another 12 hours to go before my usual bedtime.
Coffee consumed: 4 cups. Black, milk, instant. All of them.
Battery level: 30% physically, 20% mentally.

Maybe it’s the excitement of going to a beach on a weekday all alone, or the anxiety of starting a new job in the coming days, or the anticipation (or sensibility?) of getting a camera I yearned for.

I couldn’t sleep at all. Tossed around, switched beds, tried to wear myself out with printed text. Nothing helped.

Not the first time I’m troubled by insomnia and I’m sure it wouldn’t be the last. Learning to cope with it but as I age, the strain on my mind and body is harder to bear.

I’ve just clocked 6,000 steps at East Coast park. A little shorter in terms of distance, and it took longer than I imagined.

A heavy lunch made my tummy bloated. My expanding waistline wouldn’t thank me for the choice of food – fried chicken briyani and a big cup of bundung.

But it seem like a good reason to continue walking, to rid the excess calories off my system.


Will I Also Die?

The lights illuminated the void deck as we drove past.

Seated at the back, my 4 year-old son asked if that’s a wedding. After all, it’s bright and filled with people.

No, we relied. It’s for people who have passed away.

“What is passed away”? He asked.

“It means people who have died”. We told him.

“Will I also die?”

“You will. Everybody and everything will one day die. But you’ll live to a long ripe old age before dying.”

It’s the first time my son grapples with mortality. It’s also the moment of realisation that we, or our loved ones, wouldn’t be around forever.


Open With The Fire

When you advertise fire extinguishers, open with the fire.

David Ogilvy in his book “Ogilvy on Advertising

Our attentions are fleeting. There are tons of distractions pulling us from all directions. Our minds are never still.

Open with a visual surprise to grab attention. There’s a better chance for viewers to stay with you to find out what happens to the fire.


Credit Is Always Due

[…] if you fail to properly attribute work that you share, you not only rob the person who made it, you rob all the people you’ve shared it with. Without attribution, they have no way to dig deeper into the work or find more of it.

Austin Kleon in his book “Show Your Work

Doodle Jump 2

Doodle Jump was my first third-party game on mobile OS.

That was 9 years ago. In my hands was a OEM tablet from China, which we rebranded into our own by sticking our logo on it. Nothing fancy, but it worked.

Android was a whole new world for me then. Google Play store was like a candy shop with unlimited loots, all so attractive and alluring. I remembered Doodle Jump as one of the top games, if not the top game in the store.

I downloaded it and was hooked to the gameplay. The mechanic is simple, but the desire to better the previous scores kept me going again and again.

So, it brought back fond memories when I read the news of Doodle Jump 2. Not sure if fans saw the sequel coming but it’s been 11 long years. Surpassing a classic that’s so well-loved is hard, but something they might have pulled off.

Judging by Doodle Jump 2 review at MacStories, I’m happy to know it still retains many familiar elements that made the game so fun and addictive. What’s new are stages filled with fresh challenges, sprinkled with whimsical touches.

It’s a quick game that suits my current lifestyle – a few quick rounds to fill pockets of time.


Too Noisy

From Austin Kleon, in his book Keep Going


The chilly air arches down from the ceiling. With an oversized, comfortable t-shirt ideal for summer days but feels inadequate to protect against the wintery air this restaurant is pumping out, my finger are cold and my body craves for a warmer premise.

Shift I will, once the limit on my 30 minutes wifi access is up.

Meanwhile, the view is looking great. Cable car hovering diagonally across my seat. The sky is a gloomy overcast. Leaves rustling from the gentle breeze.

I have plenty of time to work on the things I’ve been wanting to clear for a long time. Like:

  • Doodling on physical notebook (just pulled out the Baron Fig grid notebook which has been dormant in the bookshelves. Still lots of unfilled pages)
  • Reading (Offscreen magazine and Instapaper queue. Perhaps clear some emails to reduce the inbox anxiety)
  • Doing nothing (in the past few months, my minutes are filled to the brim, hectic to the core. Would be nice to just space out and take in the moment)

It should make for a nice Friday as we wind down for the weekend.


In a Coffee Shop

Sitting in a contemporary chain-branded coffee shop, I’m sipping a cup of traditional coffee.

Taking a quick break while my kid attends the music lesson. His first. The first of many, we hope. Creative endeavours provides deeper meaning to life.

A musician barely surviving with the bare income but enjoying what he’s doing versus a soulless corporate executive living the good life, I know which one I’d choose.

2020 is behind us and many are happy to see the back of it. On 31 December, people were dreadful of the year. But at the stroke of midnight, everyone was suddenly rejuvenated with fresh dreams. What a difference a minute made.

The reality is, we are still confronting the same challenges. Not being a pessimist but (good) jobs are harder to find, companies are still downsizing, virus is still infecting people. Vaccines are our saviour but it would take a long while before things return to the way it was before. If it even happens.

The year of lockdown made us treasure relationships more than ever. Technological shifts are accelerated during this period. But as powerful as a miniature pixel may be, they are irreplaceable for the human connection we so yearned for. 

Despite all the unhappy things unfolding around me, I’m grateful to be surrounded by supportive families and friends. They are the pillars and without them, I don’t think my life would be so fulfilling.

With a hectic day job and office politics aplenty, I always arrived home drained and lifeless. Leaving is an option but there’s no guarantee the next gig will be better. Eat some humble pies, swallow my ego and just grind through this period. 

Hopefully, 2021 will whizz by and things will be rosier comes this time next year.

Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy new year, wherever you may be.