Productivity

When working from home doesn’t work

Too. Much. Noise.

The temporary study room. It has tables, chairs and power sockets.

Sorry that this newsletter is a week late—things were rather hectic!

They were also rather noisy, too. Actually, that’s been the case since about the start of the year because my housing estate is undergoing mass renovation works. (Under the Home Improvement Programme, or HIP.)

Excluding Sundays, there has been some form of drilling noise going on outside for most days.

AND as if that wasn’t enough, my neighbours living directly below AND under my apartment decided to do their own private renovation works a few months apart. Fml.

I work from home, so my working environment hasn’t been the most conducive. I’ve been going to places like these to escape the noise:

Temporary study room

The temporary study room. It has tables, chairs and power sockets.
The wallpaper isn’t the prettiest, but I’m not complaining

The HIP contractors have built a temporary rest area and study room for people affected by the works to use.

Bless them, because the rooms are quiet. They have aircon, power and Wi-Fi (though I prefer to use my data hotspot). They’re less than a 5-minute walk from my house.

And, they’re also free to use. :’)

Library

But there was a period when the study room was ALSO noisy…because reno works were happening directly above it. 🙃

That’s when I headed to the library.

Aircon is a given, and there are study tables with power and Wi-Fi. I can also book a seat for up to 4 hours a day for free, and I do so to guarantee myself a spot.

So, I would typically endure the noise in the morning (with my noise-cancelling earphones), have lunch, and then work from the library for the afternoon.

Places I didn’t go

  • Cafes: Not all cafes have power sockets, and you might have just a tiny table for working from. It might also be noisy if people are talking around you. Plus, you have to spend money for a seat, e.g. buying a drink.
  • A hotel: I’d seriously planned on doing so, like using the reno works as an excuse to book a hotel for a week and go on a mini working holiday (or a “workation”). Alas, due to reasons, this didn’t happen. So, I unfortunately can’t start this email with a photo of my swanky workplace for the week. 😂

What about attending meetings?

Meetings proved to be an unexpected problem.

While video meeting apps have noise-cancelling features, I wasn’t confident they could block out all the reno noise. I also can’t talk in the study room or the library.

And I previously used one-person work pods in shopping malls, but the business offering them has discontinued them.

So, I ended up:

  • Meeting the other side in person
  • Holding meetings in the evening after reno works had finished for the day

In the future, I might try:

  • Booking my virtual office’s meeting room. I get a certain number of free hours with my subscription.
  • Going to a co-working space with private call facilities. The one I’m eyeing has pretty affordable per-hour slots.

In the meantime, I will just hope all the reno—and the noise—will end soon…! 🤞

More freelancer news

Managing the freelance life

If you’re going freelance, you might be excited by the prospect of setting your own hours, choosing your own projects—and basically all that freeeeeedom!

But there are also other things to think about, like:

  • The invisible costs of working for yourself: e.g. start-up costs and paying for your own insurance. To ensure you have funds for these, you might want to save at least 40% of your gross income. (That’s what the article I’m linking to below recommends. Personally, I aim for 50% of revenue.)
  • Feast and famine: How to survive crazy busy periods and what to do during lull periods when you have less work.

Learn more about these (and how to manage them) in this article.

The article is written with freelance SEO (search engine optimisation) consultants in mind, but its sharings also apply to freelancers in other industries.

Singapore’s bank deposit insurance coverage has increased to S$100,000

If you have a Singapore bank account, the bank will need to insure up to S$100,000 of your bank account funds from 1 April onwards.

This figure was previously S$75,000.

In other words, if the bank fails and shuts down (*touch wood*), up to S$100,000 of the total funds in all your accounts with that bank will be safe.

  • If you run your freelance business as a sole proprietorship, the S$100,000 cap applies to the total funds in your personal AND business bank accounts with the bank.
  • If you run your business as a company, the S$100,000 cap applies to your personal bank account, and your company’s business bank account, with the bank separately.

You may be able to get back any balance above the cap if the bank has enough assets to cover that amount.

Suggestion: Park your personal and business funds with different banks. Accessing banking services will become more inconvenient, but you cap your losses if one bank fails. This is especially true if you’re running a sole prop.

More info on the increase in deposit insurance coverage here.

And if you want to learn more about how the insurance compensation is calculated, visit the Deposit Insurance Policyowners’ Protection website.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 18 Apr 2024. If you liked it, sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

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