Sunday, June 28, 2020


Whether you like it or not, masks are going to be an important accessory for the next several months (hopefully not years!). It's the new normal and in Singapore it has been mandatory to wear a mask if you step out of your house for the last 3 months.

I have already felt three inconveniences with wearing masks and here they are listed in no particular order:
  1. If you wear spectacles, masks fog them up - Yeah, I tried a lot of internet remedies so far, and nothing seems to work. This is the most annoying part of wearing a mask - I can't see properly when I breathe!
  2. You end up smelling your own breath - This is a minor annoyance. But I guess it's good in a way. Reminds you to brush and mouthwash regularly. I have experienced this before on red-eye flights.
  3. You can't read people's lips - I find this annoying. Now that I can't see people's lips, I realize that I have been seeing people's lips to interpret what they are talking when I meet them face to face. Last several conversations, I have difficulty understanding (especially if the person is new and his/ her accent is not something that I am used to before).
And no list is complete if you don't do both pros and cons. So here are some of the advantages I foresee of wearing masks:
  1. Masks reduce the spread of the virus - Well that's the most freaking obvious reason why everyone should be wearing masks in this pandemic. I am amused/ worried and downright angry that we are debating whether we should wear masks now!
  2. Face recognition software will have to now play catch-up (a-bit) - If you have not been living under a rock, you must have realized by now that facial recognition software is amazingly accurate. Just try Google photos for a few days, and you will realize. If Google is this great, the big-brother cameras watching you all the time on the street, must be 100x more intelligent and recognizing your faces and tracking you. I hope with the masks, the facial recognition software will need to be tweaked a bit, and so I think we might have a few months of anonymity on the street before they catch-up at recognizing us on the street again.
  3. Finally I have a fashion accessory for my face - My favorite clothing brand is making masks. So are a lot of high-fashion brands. It's a matter of weeks before which we all will start wearing designer masks and make a statement, just like how we currently make statements with our clothes, shoes and watches.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Auto Switch-off Internet

If you are having broadband internet at home, there is a high chance that you never ever switch off your router. Which means your Wi-Fi signal is always available. Besides reducing the life of your equipment and wasting electricity, I am not sure whether it is an ideal condition to leave your internet running all the while 24x7. So if you are someone who is worried about it like me, here is a simple solution:

Mechanical Power Timer

There are these cheap mechanical power timer outlets that are available that can be programmed to switch off for specific hours everyday (they are simple 24 hour timers and you can program them to switch off power to any appliance that is connected to them for designated hours). I have mine set to switch off my TV and Router every night from 11 PM to 7 AM. The advantage? Not only do I save electricity, but it forces me to go off to sleep at a fixed hour every night (TV and Internet are the biggest time wasters anyway), even if I am in the middle of a Netflix drama or surfing aimlessly some random YouTube videos.

I would highly recommend you buy these. Or if you have the budget, you can buy the electronic ones that can be programmed to follow a weekly schedule (Mon-Sun, 24 hours - so you could set it to switch off on weekday afternoons when you are not at home and change the hours for weekends - if you wanna binge watch Friday nights). Eco-friendly and help you to be disciplined!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

5 Tips for Remote Teams

The whole internet and also my workspace seems to be freaking out about working remotely and working from home. It has been 2+ months now that most of us are locked up at home and working remotely. Having an Asia-Pacific wide work role, I just realized that I have always worked remotely with geographically dispersed teams and other than the fact that I am spending a lot more time physically at home, nothing really has changed work-wise. My workload has of course increased in the pandemic, but I don't think there is any drop in me and my team's work efficiency.

I believe you must have already read a lot of articles by now about leading remote teams, so here is my list for you:
  1. Communicate a lot more and a lot often - Unlike when you are sitting next to each other in the same office, casual conversations do not happen remotely. So make sure you as a manager make it a point to talk to your team much more often and over-communicate.
  2. Do video calls - While this sounds creepy, our brain is still wired to interpret other people's emotions by looking at their faces when they are speaking. It is bit of an effort for some people as they have to "get dressed" and be "presentable" but this is the single most important thing to build rapport!
  3. Use shared drives, shared folders and all the tools available to collaborate - Email is old school. While email is important, a lot of collaborative tools make it easy for multiple people to collaborate and work simultaneously on software, documents, presentations etc. Use them everywhere!
  4. Track progress and items through a central repository - Trello is my tool of choice to track items that my team is working on. Choose yours, and use it de facto for all deliverables!
  5. Do not expect people to be always online - I think this is a golden rule for building trust. Let your team work in hours that are most comfortable to them. There is no point in making them respond to emails/ instant messages instantly. Everyone is responsible and setting such unreasonable expectations just makes people more stressed and distracted.