COVID-19: Hacking Productivity while WFH

Rahul Daswani
Head of People and Culture
Open Government Products

Discussing the methods and tools for hacking productivity and managing well-being and mental health throughout this circuit-breaker period for remote teams

COVID-19: Insights for Leaders - #SGunited #SEAunited



Rahul Daswani, Head of People and Culture at Open Government Products, shares with us how the transition to remote work has been like at his workplace, which also known as the experimental arm of GovTech Singapore.

Over the last decade, Rahul has been involved in 4 transformation efforts in government; the Strategy Group at Prime Minister's Office, SkillsFuture, the Agricultural Transformation Agency of Ethiopia and the Climate Change Development Authority of Papua New Guinea.



How do you manage your mental health while working from home for an extended period?

  • Create boundaries, both in space and time between work and home. One way Rahul practices this is through creating different physical environments to do work, and enforcing a strict separation of work by not responding to work-related queries after the work day ends.

  • Meditation and exercise is another method for relieving stress, with a disciplined routine of engaging in either activity on a regular basis. Reading is another activity that Rahul shares an interest in.

  • Replicating the social aspect of their workplace was also important for their teams. Rahul recounts that the physical transition to the bar near their workspace was one their team missed dearly, and as such established a practice to transition from a work-centred communication platform (Zoom) to one which has a more casual atmosphere (Discord).

  • The transition from one platform to the next for the same purpose may seem zany, but the small social cues were useful for those who did not want to partake in the company social activities. Instead of a select few exiting their company Zoom call, which can seem awkward, everyone had a clear boundary between when work ended and social activities began.


What do you do to keep your work from home productivity high?


  • There is a productivity tax in transitioning to their remote work environment, as the Open Government Products team were figuring out how to coordinate work timings and integrate work from home with other parts of life. But over time, productivity has easily been higher after ironing out their coordination mechanisms and implementing new tools.

  • Rahul keeps to a simple workflow for his own productivity, implementing only a Pomodoro timer to manage his break times and a simple scheduling system, much unlike his work at Open Government Products where technology is a key focus.

"I like to keep things simple: I have a kanban flow board and I write down what tasks I want to do for the day. Sometimes, if I forget to put down something, but I've done it, I write it down in the Done column to feel that burst of acknowledgement and validation."

List of tools to keep wfh productivity high
  • Slack: Main messaging platform, allowing for file sharing and voice/video calls too.
  • Zoom: It's just much better for large scale team meetings, adds Rahul.
  • Kanban boards: These can be simple whiteboards or Post-It notes, or you can use software like Notion or Trello to help digitise the flow.
  • Pomodoro Timers: A simple egg timer would work, or a multitude of other mobile applications. On the web, you can use this browser-based free timer.
  • Guided meditation apps: Rahul likes Calm and Headspace.
  • Barry's Bootcamp: High-intensity workouts online to keep fit while WFH.
  • The Three-Body Problem: One of the best science fiction books written recently, with strong recommendations from Rahul and Chee Tung.
  • Discord: Some of the Open Government Product team conduct their meetings through this app throughout the day, for others to drop in and out at their fancy.


How do you think the transition back to the office post-circuit breaker measures will be?

  • One of their organisation's main lesson is understanding what sort of process would they want to keep from this work-from-home experiment, and what they want from their office environments.



  • Workplace practices can also change, such as their optional team lunches every Tuesday and Thursday.


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Additional Resources: 



Business Continuity Plan

While a BCP is focused on bringing operational processes set in place, a People Continuity Plan focuses on developing an environment that is supportive of your employee's emotional health, as well as developing procedures to manage critical business functions.

Here are some resources for building psychological resilience for your teams, developing your people strategy and introducing succession planning for your teams.

Read our resources about PCP

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People Continuity Package

As telecommuting becomes the new normal, we're launching a dedicated People Continuity Package to help your team stay productive and engaged through this crisis.

To support our community, we're making our solution free for all organisations that sign up before 1 June 2020.


Visit our resources page to learn more about how to put your people-first during COVID-19


COVID-19 HR Resources