How I try to work from home in Hanoi
I have a fairly sizeable desk that used to have its own office room in our old house. Adjacent to it is a big-boss chair.
We downsized and now it’s in the corner of the little one’s bedroom. The thinking was I would work while she was at nursery. Except I don’t use it any more.
Our apartment on the eighth floor has 180 degree views — across to the Red River on one side and towards the centre of town on the other. But all that glass makes the house warm so the curtains are always drawn.
Our first electricity bill here was off the scale (something about commercial rates). So we try to save on AC while we can.
Which suits me. Instead I stay and work horizontally in our bedroom. A concrete bunker with minimal windows and zero views which keeps its cool. A fan is enough.
They’re building another apartment alongside. The bedroom’s only window will soon be blocked completely. In the meantime — jackhammers.
I tend to get out when they start. Down to co-working cafe Clickspace which I really like. The creative beardies who meet there are reassuringly irritating and I can bitch on Twitter. I talk constantly with local colleagues via Slack while the internationals prefer Skype.
I instant message only. Actual talking on Skype in public is a no no.
Clickspace introduced me to Radio Paradise which I now adore. It plays in the background and, if it’s a song I particularly like, I put on my headphones, go to their website and turn up the volume.
In the 90s we were told how to sit at work. Chairs were replaced so employee hours wouldn’t be lost to backache. Now we’re sitting on rickety furniture in hipster cafes.
After two or three hours I stagger out. Back and legs aching and bent.
I used to regularly order food as payment for workspace but on a daily basis the cost just got too much. Even a coffee followed by a juice can mean blowing over 100,000VND in a morning (with lunch still to buy).
I’m mostly sticking to ice teas these days which seems a bit mean. But there’s various balances. You’ll go mad if you don’t go out and you can’t always be in with your own air con blazing.
There are sums that could be done if — I could be bothered — my air con versus theirs (for free) plus the cost of drinks.
Sometimes I take the dog too. I appreciate that customers and staff alike make a fuss of him. He demands affection every 10 to 15 minutes which is a distraction. That eventually shortens to around five and you have to give up and take him home.
Back at the house I most like working from the rocking chair — heat and noise willing. I often thought there was money to be made repositioning the rocking chair for home workers. The iChair. The perfect angle to work and back support as well.
Or there’s the bean bag but then getting up is increasingly a problem.
The desk is now covered in toys.