Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared a nationwide state of emergency on April 16, following a partial declaration in seven of Japan’s 47 prefectures, announced earlier this month. These drastic measures have a clear message to Japan’s citizens: Stay indoors and refrain from leaving your homes for running unnecessary errands. The government has also put pressure on domestic businesses to encourage telework as much as possible in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus and protect its employees’ safety.
Our Tokyo Weekender editorial team has been working from home for a little over a week now. We’ve switched to online meetings and productivity apps to keep track of our workflow. This is my first experience with remote work and while there are certainly many reasons to dislike it—from having to reinvent your routine to learning to cope with your new coworkers (AKA your family)—there are certainly some definite pros to working from the comfort of your tiny Japanese apartment.
1. More Free Time
What used to be a 3-hour commute round trip is now a couple of steps. Being left with so much extra time was overwhelming at first. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself and was quick to slide into boredom. After a few days, though, I’ve given myself opportunities to fill that time with activities that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, or tasks I hadn’t come around to doing. Before logging on and after logging off, I’ve been testing out some new hobbies, getting back into studying Japanese and working out regularly.
2. The Perfect Working Space
There are only so many things you can do in a shared office to make yourself feel comfortable. Blankets, cactuses, humidifiers, you name it. Nothing beats a space that you can fully customize. Over the past week, I’ve built myself a comfortable corner to boost productivity and feel inspired. Every morning, I set up my pillows for maximum back support, gather my notebooks and pens on a side table and light up a strand of incense. Of course, working from the comfort of your own abode means you can set up camp anywhere. If you have a balcony, why not spend your afternoon checking up some emails there? And if you’ve been looking to upgrade your decor, now is the time.
3. Increased Productivity
It’s very easy to get distracted while at home, with Netflix and YouTube only being a click away, but thanks to the right tricks, I saw my productivity skyrocket. The key is to really create cut-off times, schedule your breaks and make some time to be off your computer. One of the most attractive benefits from working remotely is the control of time. I’ve been getting up at the same time I usually do, but start working less than 30 minutes after. Working from home means it’s infinitely quicker to switch off and start playing, so an increased productivity combined with an early start means I can get to the fun stuff faster. We also have to consider there are no coworkers to chat with and distract me from whatever task I’m tackling. Online meetings are also significantly more streamlined: they are (generally) shorter, have less tangents—and less arguments, too!
4. No Dress Code
I’m not recommending spending the day in your pajamas, but if you’d much rather ditch the tailored suit for a sweatsuit, then you’re more than welcome to. This goes hand-in-hand with creating a comfortable working space. There’s nothing that will get done if your body feels constrained because that’s the only thing you’ll be able to think about. To put your mind at work, dress comfortably. For me, it’s important that I still get dressed. Maybe I’ll skip makeup but I’ll make sure to wear a pair of jeans and a clean shirt. This helps me mentally get ready for work.
5. Saving Money is Easy
Even before COVID-19, the best way to save money is to stay in. Especially with Starbucks closing in certain parts of Japan, there are very few of us who are willing to risk getting sick for a cup of coffee. Instead, we’re learning to make our perfect brew at home, which saves us quite the amount. Or, like me, you’re quite simply staying away from coffee and trying to drink the recommended eight cups of water every day. Another money-saver is cooking at home. Consider meal planning and making weekly trips to the supermarket. This doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on the occasional delivery, especially to support your favorite local restaurants. It’s important to keep a sense of normalcy, after all.
For more inspiration on what to do at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, check out our special guide here.