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I Tried Work-From-Anywhere: It Was Great, But It’s Definitely Not WFH

Very fun, but harder than I thought.


Work-from-anywhere from Langkawi

While not many companies were ready for their employees to work from home prior to COVID-19, the lockdowns during the pandemic showed that it was possible.

As countries re-opened, more workers have gradually returned to the office – but on a hybrid model rather than 100% back to the office.

Likewise, DollarsAndSense had toyed with the idea of working from home prior to COVID-19 with varying success. In the post-COVID-19 world, and surely after seeing the human traffic return to the CBD on our morning commutes, all of us are firmly in favour of the hybrid model.

My Work-From-Home Schedule At DollarsAndSense Today

In a typical week, I work three days in the office and two at home. This provides a good mix for my work.

Being one of the biggest personal finance websites in Singapore, we must create good content. The days I work from home allow me to focus on creating good content angles and writing my articles without many distractions. Hopefully, you guys reading us agree!

At home, I am able to be a more involved father without taking anything away from work. I can send my older boy to school in the mornings, pick him up just before lunch, eat home-cooked lunches and dinners with both my boys, and use small breaks in between work to play with the kids. About once a week (with a caveat mainly to defend myself at work: when I’m not on a deadline), I’d also spend about 15 to 20 minutes at the gym or going for a run to keep fit. I enjoy the perks of working from home.

Of course, there’s always Zoom or Microsoft Teams that we can use to jump on quick chats if we need to have meetings from home.

We also have a lot of work that we need to collaborate on each week. That’s when we can have our in-person meetings in the office spread over three days a week. Additionally, having lunch and grabbing a beer with colleagues and external partners is also something we may want for our social life and career. I tend to write off (no pun intended) days that I am in the office for content generation work.

All in all, I’m thankful for the hybrid work model in the new normal. I’m able to be productive at home and at work.

Read Also: Wi-Fi On Steroids: Cheap Hacks To Get The Best Bang For Our Buck From Our Home Broadband Plan

Going To Langkawi To Work-From-Anywhere

As countries re-open borders, work-from-home employees may also think work-from-anywhere is equally feasible.

However, this was not the premise of my work-from-anywhere experience. In fact, it was unplanned and I only found out I was going to Langkawi at about 10.30 am on the day itself.

Long story short, my wife’s friend bailed on their girls’ trip the morning they were flying, so I was the stand-in. I had to pack and set off to the airport within an hour. Not that I was complaining!

My flight to Langkawi would cost $175 two-ways, and accommodation was already paid for.

Preparing for work from anywhere

Packed and gone in just a couple of hours.

I didn’t think I needed to worry about exchanging my money for Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). I was going on an unplanned trip, not my wife, she had planned this getaway in advance.

Turned out that I had to worry about exchanging money as well. Thankfully, I was able to get some from my mom, who had some spare Malaysian Ringgit from a recent run to Johor Bahru (JB). I brought along cash that I would exchange once in Langkawi and made sure I had access to my multi-currency wallet with YouTrip. I’d previously used it on a trip to the U.S.about three years ago and was happy with the outcome.

After landing, we simply used Grab to take a short ride to our resort. It came up to RM10, and we could pay for it via my YouTrip card. While walking towards our Grab, the local drivers stationed at the airport looked visibly disappointed that we knew our way around. As a traveller, I’m really glad that we no longer have to be at the mercy of cabbies trying to haggle over fares at overseas airports.

While we cannot store Malaysian Ringgit on our YouTrip mobile wallets, we can pay for our purchases with the card. The exchange rate we receive is also competitive. If you haven’t signed-up for a YouTrip card, you can use the DollarsAndSense exclusive promo code DNS5 when you register to receive an additional $5 in your YouTrip account.

Read Also: Step-By-Step Guide to Getting And Using A YouTrip Card For Your Next Holiday Or Shopping Online

My Work-From-Anywhere Set-Up In The Resort

I was only able to do a little bit of work on the one and half hour flight. It’s a challenge to do real work on such a short flight, especially since we need to stow away our electronics for the first 15 mins and last 15 mins of the flight.

Nevertheless, I was at a new workstation – in my Langkawi resort – just three hours later. And, I was enjoying a much better view than my work-from-home set-up.

Work from anyway workstation in resort hotel

My work-from-anywhere set-up for the next few days.

View aside, we (or maybe it is just me) have to realise that work-from-home is very different to work-from-anywhere. At home, we have our ergonomic chair, our widescreen monitor, our stable internet connection, and we even have our routines nailed down for lunch and breaks in between.

While these are all things that proponents of work-from-anywhere will say can be made available no matter where we are, the reality is that most of us are thinking about work-from-anywhere while on a holiday right now. Personally, I’m not chasing the digital nomad lifestyle, so I have to settle for what’s available.

The internet connection was good at the resort, but as you can see in my work-from-anywhere station, I have little control over the noise that my room will be exposed to. Also, given my view, I have to admit that I was a little cautious about simply resting back and soaking in the sights before me – the last thing I need is an awkward stare from parents.

My wife went out, and exchanged some of our money for Malaysian Ringgit. I don’t have a picture of it (a hazard of working from the resort while the wife did the exchange), but the rate on YouTrip was comparable or even better than the exchange rate at the local money changers.

You Can’t FOMO While Saying You Are On Work-From-Anywhere

The allure of the digital nomad lifestyle is that we get to enjoy all the sights and sounds of the place we’re living in. For those of us on much shorter work-from-anywhere holidays, we have to accept that we cannot be tourists.

Thus, my wife could enjoy being a tourist in the morning, and I could only join her after my work had ended for the day. Being in overseas, I was extra motivated to finish my work more quickly.

On the first day, we wanted to walk the streets of Langkawi. Another thing I noticed was that these holiday destinations have been absolutely ravaged. There still weren’t that many tourists, and about three-quarters of the place were closed or under construction. A far cry from what it used to be before COVID-19. These places rely mainly on tourists for business, and I’m not sure how they got by in the past two years. (I didn’t capture many images of this).

On the second day, my wife and I decided to explore the only mall (as far as I could tell) around the part of Langkawi we were staying. We ended up staying out till quite late – because I’m only human and I still FOMO even when I know I should not be FOMO-ing.

First night out working from anywhere in Langkawi

Yes, I was tired after flying and working all day!

On the third day in Langkawi, my wife decided to stay at our resort to keep me company. She enjoyed the spa and pool while I was working in the room. We travelled out for lunch to a popular nearby Italian(ish) restaurant. There, we had one of the best mushroom soups I’ve ever had, along with pizza, some nachos and tacos.

Since we already had the YouTrip card saved on the Grab platform, we could simply use it with any rides that we needed to take. At the restaurant, we were also able to pay for the meal with the YouTrip card.

Eating lunch in Langkawi

I couldn’t travel like a tourist, but I sure ate like one.

That evening, we sat by the poolside/beach. The wife sipping Pina Coladas, and me enjoying a pint (while most probably thinking about this article). The sunset at the resort was magnificent.

Working in Langkawi

That might have been this article I was writing in the image on the right.

We didn’t explore like how normal tourists would, but we (or at least I) came in knowing that would be the case. Anyone who tells themselves they can enjoy being a tourist and work-from-anywhere on a holiday is very likely setting themselves up for failure – either as a tourist or a worker.

Read Also: I Spent 21 Days In The USA With My YouTrip Card – It Was (Mostly) Good

Back To Work-From-Home In Singapore

While my work-from-anywhere stint was great. Our team had to rearrange our weekly editorial meeting, which usually happens in the office. We are a flexible enough team to accommodate someone dialling in, but because of my flight arrangement and other conflicting schedules, we had to shift the meeting to an entirely different day.

This would be ok as a one-off. However, if we plan to travel around during work-from-anywhere, we have to bear in mind travelling time so we don’t inconvenience others in our team either.

Once I got back home, I was able to settle back into my home office set-up – my office chair, desk, larger monitor and more than I missed while working-from-anywhere. Working-from-home is definitely more comfortable than working-from-anywhere, especially for shorter stints.

For those who want to work-from-anywhere indefinitely, not being able to come back to the office a few days a week can be a challenge. We lose out on face-to-face chats with our colleagues and partners to build deeper social connections – that facilitate work in most companies.

Having spent several days in Langkawi, I’m not so sure if it’s the best use of my travel dollars either. Sure it was nice, but anyone who thinks they might FOMO on such a trip should probably just take leave and enjoy the holiday as a tourist.

Overall, I’m happy with my trip. I do feel I would have been a better worker if I’d just worked-from-home. But, I’d do it again if I got the chance. In short – yes to work-from-anywhere in small doses.

Read Also: Buyers Guide: 5 Gadgets Under $100 To Make Your Work From Home Experience Better For You And Those Around You

DollarsAndSense Exclusive: If you’re planning to travel, check out our step-by-step guide for registering for YouTrip, which allows you to change and pay in 150 currencies with no fees. Use the promo code DNS5 during registration to receive an additional $5 in your YouTrip account!

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