The Big Read: Working from home becomes a nightmare when lines are blurred and boundaries trampled

SINGAPORE: After her third visit to the clinic for chest pains, which led her to be referred to a hospital’s accident and emergency department, Adriana (not her real name) decided that she had had enough. She quit her job.

Her first two visits were for headaches from a lack of sleep and stress, and for gastric pains from skipping meals and taking painkillers.

“My GP (general practitioner) said to me ‘nowadays, people either get COVID-19 and suffer, or they don’t and suffer while working’.

“I even had to take a work call before going to the A&E because we were just really short-handed,” said Adriana, in her mid-20s, who declined to reveal her real name.

Adriana, who works in the communications industry, was told after a series of tests that her chest pains were a symptom of anxiety and she had experienced a panic attack.

Then, there’s 25-year-old Stella (not her real name) who also made the difficult decision to resign from her job in the food and beverage industry because her neverending work was starting to affect her mental health.

Stella said she would work 12 to 15 hours a day, from the moment she woke up until past midnight where she went straight to bed. She was also unable to take breaks during the day and was forced to skip many meals.

With “homeworking” taking root amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees in Singapore find themselves being pushed to the limits, as the boundaries between work and home become blurred.

READ: Job security and working from home: MPs share their thoughts on how workers, families and companies can move forward after COVID-19

And as some experts warn against upsetting the work-life balance — which remains the holy grail for many — one Member of Parliament (MP) has recently called for a law to guarantee that an employee’s personal time is safeguarded.

For Adriana, she had tried to hold on to her job for as long as she could, given the economic downturn.

Ultimately, she realised that she could no longer go on working under such conditions.

“I was working seven days a week. I’d work past midnight and during meal times, often starting work at 9am the next day despite staying up till 4am,” said Adriana.

While she had worked late nights previously, working until 4am became commonplace only after she began working from home.

Days dragged on and were filled with unscheduled calls because being home meant that her colleagues and clients assumed she would be available for work calls at all times. Her bosses also thought that work could be delivered within tight timelines as everything was done digitally.

“If we took leave to rest or were on medical leave, they assumed we had nothing to do because we’re home anyway, and would still ask us to follow up on work,” said Adriana.

She often found herself fretting about timelines, and would even dream about work, waking up in a panic. She also found herself in a bad mood and distanced herself from her parents and friends when work piled up.

READ: COVID-19 impact on mental health must be managed, as more people face stress and disruption: PM Lee

“When we transitioned to working from home, it was like I lost my support system. I was suddenly working alone at home without my colleagues, everything was done remotely and the long hours didn’t help,” said Adriana, who has yet to find a new job.

Stella said that her work environment was positive and ideal before remote working began. But once it started, “there were no lines drawn and I basically worked around the clock, even on weekends”.

“It was horrible because I had to react to a lot of issues that had to be resolved right away with our partners,” she said.

Stella said that she had voiced out these issues many times but her managers were just as, or even more, overworked in trying to keep the company afloat.

“Our immediate superiors were too busy to care about us and we had deadlines and targets to hit. The only way to fulfill them was to work overtime,” said Stella, adding that a few of her colleagues had also resigned due to burnout.

Adrian Choo, founder of career strategy consulting firm Career Agility International, noted that if employees are continually stretched, there will be fatigue followed by burnout.

Work-life balance is also one of the key reasons why employees leave, and if companies continue to overwork their employees, the turnover rate will be high, he said.

He advises managers and supervisors to have open communication with their staff to manage expectations on both sides so as to avoid confusion and conflict.

READ: Nearly nine of 10 workers want to keep work-from-home option: Survey

Anthea Ong, founder of the WorkWell Leaders Workgroup, a community of leaders from various companies and national agencies which champion workplace mental well-being, said: “Studies have found that poor mental health has an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, negative impact on productivity and profits, as well as an increase in costs to deal with the issue. In addition, they impact employee morale adversely.”


It is not only employees who have had to grapple with mental stress and long hours; even those in management positions have had their fair share of problems in dealing with the new work arrangements.

Mr Jonathan Tan, with his wife, at their work from home stations in their bedroom. (Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY)

One of them, Jonathan Tan, managing director of UnaBiz, an Internet of Things network operator, said that he had initially struggled with the transition to working from home.

But things are more manageable now, after he sought to establish clear boundaries between work time and personal time.

Mr Tan, 52, said the need to be ever-present at work and virtual meetings over Zoom quickly took a toll on him.

“It’s so easy to set up meetings on Zoom so there were suddenly more meetings than ever before,” he said.

“Zoom meetings are also inherently more stressful because there are so many faces focused on you and when you feel that everyone is looking at you, it can be very straining.”

He also had to grapple with a “self-imposed stress to prove that I am on the ball” even as he worked from home.

Mr Tan noted that while working in an office, there is a lot more “implicit rest”, such as walking to and from food courts during lunch breaks or taking a short drive to attend meetings.

“Now there’s no rest, it’s just (work) back to back so it becomes incredibly strenuous. I quickly realised that I had to start scheduling these breaks in my calendar or else I would simply forget to take them,” he said.

READ: Commentary:  Safe return to workplaces needs thoughtful plans on layouts, lifts, ventilation and more

He spends his breaks doing light reading or just logging off for a while to focus on non-work related matters.

For Leah Carlose, a Singapore-based country human resource adviser, working from home has been an enjoyable experience from the start — as her company, Australian telecommunications firm Telstra, recognises the need for flexibility to allow staff to disconnect from work and have time for themselves, even during official working hours.

Compared with the time when she had to be in the office, Ms Carlose starts her work day earlier and knocks off earlier.

Her company also promotes blocking off periods of time kept free of meetings to ensure that employees can take breaks if needed since the lines between work and home are blurred.

During these meeting-free periods, Ms Carlose heads to the gym. She also meets up with her colleagues at cafes for tea breaks.

Since Sep 28, more employees in Singapore have been allowed to return to the workplace, although safe-management protocols must be in place and employers are encouraged to implement measures such as flexible working hours and staggered reporting times.

Employers must also ensure that such employees continue to work from home for at least half of their working time, and no more than half of such employees are at the workplace at any point in time.

As working from home continues to be the default mode of working for many, labour MP (Radin Mas) Melvin Yong proposed in Parliament on Oct 6 that the Government consider incorporating aspects of “right to disconnect” legislation in an upcoming advisory on mental health of workers.

READ: Goodbye office: Is the future of work in our homes?

Mr Yong had first urged the Government to consider a “right to disconnect” law in August during the debate on the President’s Address in Parliament.

Such a law was first enacted in France in 2017. Workers in an organisation that has more than 50 employees are forbidden from sending or replying to emails after certain hours. Other countries such as Italy and the Philippines have since taken steps to push forth similar legislation.

However, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, in his reply to Mr Yong, noted that since many workers in Singapore are employed in companies covering different time zones, it might not be feasible to pass laws that would give workers the right to ignore work calls and emails after business hours.

Mr Zaqy added that the rigid enforcement of the boundary between work and personal life might also impede some workers, who enjoy the flexibility of caring for their children, running errands in the day and working at night.


To help their employees disconnect from work, some bosses that Mediacorp spoke to have implemented new practices and ways of working to enable their staff to get work done and prioritise personal and family time.

Since remote working began for his team, Adam Esoof Piperdy, chief executive officer and founder of events company Unearthed Productions, decided to purchase workplace communication platform Slack to create a distinction between work messages and casual chats on WhatsApp.

Mr Piperdy has also implemented mandatory no-meeting days on Friday as a “mental break for everybody just to chill out, kind of like extended weekend”.

For the rest of weekdays, last meetings of the day are scheduled to start at 5pm so that they can end by 6pm.

Commentary: When Singapore homes become workspaces – huge changes in the house and beyond

“And after 6pm, we’ve made it known that you will not need to respond to any work-related WhatsApp messages. If you want to do it on your own accord, it’s on your own purview,” said Mr Piperdy.

Paul Fong, country manager at Dow Singapore & Malaysia, said that despite being a multinational company, his firm also does not encourage meetings on Friday evenings. Dow is a global materials science company.

“At least once a month, we also allow our employees to knock off an hour earlier on Friday so that they can start the weekend early and spend quality time with their families and friends,” he added.

Happy-hour tea sessions are often organised, with employees having the choice of attending a “virtual happy hour” where they play games with their colleagues, or simply log off to spend quality time with families.

Over at web development and digital marketing firm FirstCom Solutions, general manager Lynn Wong said that about 80 of her client-facing employees have been given corporate mobile phones.

“They are unable to disconnect as they don’t really check the time and they get very engrossed with replying to messages at any time of the day.

“With the work phone, they can actually detach (themselves) from needing to check on the phone (outside) of working hours, as compared (to) using their own phones,” she said.

To help maintain employees’ work-life balance, Anuradha Purbey, People Director (Europe and Asia) at Aviva, told Mediacorp that the insurance company has taken Basecamp, its flagship employee engagement programme, online.

READ: Review of construction noise limits to consider residents working from home: Desmond Tan

This includes virtual group exercise classes such as yoga, Zumba, piloxing, which were previously conducted in the office. The classes start promptly at 6.15pm to encourage employees to exit “work mode” by turning their attention to an activity.

Over at Mercer Singapore, Peta Latimer, chief executive officer said that time off is encouraged by actively managing annual leave balances and ensuring people take breaks to recharge and re-energise.

The human resource consultancy also offers a paid “Voluntary Leave & Reduced Hours” scheme for those who need a break or want to pursue other personal or professional interests.

During the circuit breaker period between April and June, for example, the firm offered voluntary leave where staff could receive 20 per cent of their pay while on leave for up to three months.

When it comes to promoting work-life balance, the management needs to lead by example, said Julien Labruyere, chief executive officer and founder of Sleek, which incorporates companies by helping them manage their governance and accounting using technology.

“I am very aware of my role as CEO to set the tone and culture. I work extremely intensively from 8am to 8pm every day but try to not connect too much over weekends or late at night so I do not set a bad example,” he said.


While working from home often interferes with one’s personal life, the home environment, in turn, can also affect one’s job performance and productivity.

Priscilla Chin, 26, an associate artificial intelligence engineer, pointed out that not everyone has the luxury of space or favourable surroundings to work in comfort at home.

While working from home often interferes with one's personal life, the home environment

While working from home often interferes with one’s personal life, the home environment, in turn, can also affect one’s job performance and productivity. (Photo: Daria Nepriakhina/Unsplash)

“Sometimes I feel that mandated work from home is a reverse social leveller because it really prohibits the less wealthy from having the conducive environment to work,” she said.

Chew Xin Yi, 24, who works in digital marketing at FirstCom Solutions, said that not having such a work-friendly environment at home initially stressed her out even more.

Her parrot would scream in the background while she was in virtual meetings, and she would have to mute herself halfway through the meeting and apologise for the awkward situation.

She would also get distracted working while sharing a room with her sister who was attending online lectures.

“Usually, most of my meetings are pre-planned with my clients in advance, so every night, I would share my schedule with her to see if there would be any clashes,” she said.

“Initially, my sister and I just tolerated each other’s noise during meetings but after that, it suddenly struck us that we can re-organise some of my parents’ stuff in their room and free up a corner to put a table to have a separate work space.”

FirstCom Solutions’ Ms Wong said that when remote working first began, she noticed that some employees’ performance and productivity dropped.

She immediately decided to speak to them to understand their issues and found out that these boiled down to an unconducive home environment and no proper hardware.

READ: Work in office, from home, or both? Hybrid work has potential and pitfalls, say experts

“We made arrangements to provide support to them. We allowed some of them to head to office to work for some days and we also purchased hardware required for them to ensure they are able to work properly at home,” she said.

Sleek’s Mr Labruyere said that he also allowed some of his employees to return to the office.

“The transition to working from home happened so fast that we had not really anticipated it in terms of organisational needs. Things like misunderstandings and miscommunications, the things that you usually address by speaking to your colleague at the coffee machine,” he said.

He added: “We definitely noticed it when we started and the real game changer was when we implemented daily catch-ups for all teams and managers focused on problem-solving.

“Each staff shares with their managers what’s bugging them and preventing them from doing more and then they escalate it all the way to me until we fix the issue. Having that constant feedback loop has really helped us be agile and address any issue before it grows too big.”

Anthony Chan, head of marketing at co-working space Arcc Spaces, said that they have been receiving more enquiries from those looking for an alternative work space due to distractions such as kids running around and talkative parents.

As such, the company is now running different promotions and has slashed prices to support individuals and enterprises which require a proper workplace so that they can focus better.

Arcc Spaces offers five-day to monthly passes, short-term leases and recently launched “Working Nomad Solution”, a three-month or above package that offers access to its four centres.


On Wednesday (Oct 14), Mr Yong again spoke in Parliament about the “right to disconnect” issue, noting that a law would help employees have protected time to rest and recharge.

Some human resource experts said it is unrealistic to implement a “right to disconnect” legislation

 Some human resource experts said it is unrealistic to implement a “right to disconnect” legislation in Singapore. (Photo: Brad Neathery/Unsplash)

Referring to French companies which schedule non-critical emails to be sent at 8am the next working day, the labour MP said “these are certainly not radical practices, but baby steps which we can easily adopt here in Singapore”.

However, some human resource experts told Mediacorp that it is unrealistic to implement “right to disconnect” legislation in Singapore.

Angela Kuek, director of recruitment firm Meyer Consulting Group, said: “I think they can encourage these kinds of practices, but how much of it is actually put in play or how successful all these can be is another question.

“It comes down to Asian culture and mentality. We work more hours, bosses need more visibility and facetime, and you have to be responsive. This work ethic has been around for decades in Singapore, so one hard and fast rule will not work.”

She added that implementing such rules to promote work-life balance has to start with the leadership team, and there is “no use” for the company’s human resources department to implement such policies if the managers are still going to demand for work to be done after hours.

“Your company-wide culture might be very relaxed but if your team is very fast-moving and your boss is ambitious and wants a team to be very responsive, then it will not work,” she said.

Aviva’s Ms Purbey said that enforcing such rules might be counter-intuitive.

“During the pandemic, we have been supportive of employees who had requested to follow a different working schedule to balance work, childcare, eldercare and family commitments. In some cases, employees requested to start late and finish late, hence strictly enforcing the 6pm deadline is counter-intuitive to people who want to work flexibly,” she said.

LISTEN: Returning to the office – can you say no?

Carmen Wee, a veteran HR practitioner, said one way employers can create better work-life balance for their employees is to build trust and stop micromanaging.

This is especially needed at a time when workaholism is perpetuated due to employees’ fear of losing their jobs amid the current economic situation, she said. It is, therefore, important for supervisors to be enlightened.

“To me, regular manager-employee check-in calls are expected once a week — to hold one another accountable for the goals to be met and then measure on output. How someone completes their tasks should be left up to them,” she said.

She added that companies need to train their managers on how to manage the workforce remotely because Singapore culture is very much focused on “presenteeism”, where employers need to see their staff working hard to feel like they can trust them.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Yong pointed out that research has shown that presenteeism is detrimental to a firm’s performance. He also stressed that “right to disconnect” legislation is not about putting in place “rigid law that specify working hours”.

He said: “It is simply about ensuring that our workers have protected time to rest.”

READ: Commentary: Our workspaces at home are wholly inadequate for work

Acknowledging the need to study in greater detail how such a law could be implemented in Singapore, he nevertheless reiterated his hope that the Tripartite Advisory on Mental Health — which is expected to be published in the coming weeks — will include aspects of the “right to disconnect”.

“With clearer guidelines, our unions can start a conversation with employers on the protocol to answer non-critical work calls and emails outside of working hours, as well as the provision of appropriate help for those facing workplace burnout, while keeping their identities confidential,” said Mr Yong, who is an assistant secretary-general at the National Trades Union Congress.


On how employees can set boundaries for themselves, Paul Heng, founder of NeXT Career Consulting Group, said that setting expectations is the rule of the game, and employees have to make it crystal clear that they are not going to be on call, unless it is an emergency.

Career Agility International’s Mr Choo reiterated that employees need to learn how to push back and set their own boundaries, when their managers start demanding for work to be done after office hours or have unreasonable expectations.

“They shouldn’t need to feel shy about preserving their personal time, especially if matters are non-urgent,” he said.

Ms Wee said that if employees are unable to set boundaries through open communication with their managers — which she says should be the first step — they should talk to their human resource department in a confidential setting. Some companies also have alternative channels for feedback that employees could take advantage of.

Mr Heng said that once the boundaries are set, the employees concerned should “try hard not to make exceptions”.

“When your colleagues and bosses know that their emails are not going to get responded to, they will, over time, learn to manage their own expectations … Soon enough, they will accept it,” he added.

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Home for van Gisbergen after Bathurst win

Bathurst 1000 winner Shane van Gisbergen will head home to New Zealand after claiming his maiden win at Mount Panorama.

The Red Bull driver delivered an emotional victory for Holden in the iconic Australian motoring brand’s last Supercars race before it is retired.

Van Gisbergen, who teamed with veteran Garth Tander, buried painful memories of near misses in finishing second in 2016 and 2019.

He won the championship in 2016 and claimed 39 career victories, but the great race had never gone to plan.

After being separated from his family during the COVID-19 affected Supercars season, van Gisbergen is just looking forward to returning home.

“Gave mum and dad a call (straight after the race) and they were pretty stoked,” he said.

“Those last 60 laps were flat out the whole way. It was tense but quite enjoyable.

“The car just got better and better throughout the day and the last couple of stints were really cool to drive.

“I’ve had some bad runs at Bathurst in the past, and today was all about making no mistakes.”

Van Gisbergen drove his victory lap with a Holden flag flying out of his Commodore in tribute to red lion supporters.

It was Holden’s final Supercars race in a factory capacity before it is retired by General Motors at the end of this year.

“We’ve been the factory team for the last couple of years, and to not have Holden support racing anymore is devastating, but to win the last Bathurst 1000 for them was something pretty special,” van Gisbergen said.

Commodores will still appear on the Supercars grid next season, just not in an official capacity.

But van Gisbergen’s Triple Eight team has already committed to racing in Chevrolet Camaros in 2022 when Holden vehicles are fazed out.

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Michigan Republican fundraised at DeVos family home while trying to downplay financial ties

Betsy DeVos; John James

Betsy DeVos and John James Getty Images/Salon

Michigan Republican Senate candidate John James attended a fundraiser at the home of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother-in-law while trying to downplay the financial help his campaign has received from the family.

James attended a fundraiser at the home of DeVos’ brother-in-law, Dan, and his wife, Pamella, last month. Though James was well-distanced from the crowd, none of the attendees appeared to be wearing masks, according to a photo published by former Allegan County Republican Party Chairman Kevin Whiteford to Facebook.

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James has extensive ties to the DeVos family, which has poured money into his race against Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. His campaign recently hired Betsy DeVos’ niece, and his wife has worked at the DeVos family’s Amway empire for years. Members of the DeVos family have directly donated tens of thousands to his campaign.

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The DeVos family has also funded the Better Future Michigan Fund, a super PAC which has now spent at least $7.1 million to help James defeat Peters. Dan and Pam DeVos have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the super PAC.

Despite other Republican Senate candidates being outraised by massive sums across the country, James has managed to outraise Peters throughout most of the campaign despite losing his 2018 Senate race to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., by seven points.

Two recent polls, one of which showed the race virtually tied, suggest that Michigan is one of the few competitive seats where Republicans could pull off an upset next month.

James has spent some of the money he’s raised to buy ads downplaying his ties to the DeVos family.

James recently released an ad trying to distance himself from Betsy DeVos’ assault on public education, insisting that he believes a “quality education is a basic civil right.”

“You’re not running against President Trump, or Betsy DeVos or any other boogeyman,” James told Peters in the ad. “You’re running against me. This may surprise you senator, but no one owns me.”

James previously declared that he supports Trump “2,000%.”

A Democratic super PAC accused James of backing “DeVos’ agenda to cut public school funding and put it into wealthy private schools instead.” Politifact Michigan rated the claim “mostly false,” though only because James has repeatedly avoided saying anything specific about his education policy. James has frequently declined to state his views on education, and he turned down a request to push back on the claim. His campaign declined PolitiFact Michigan’s “request for any details about his education policies that would rebut” the allegation. The campaign did not respond to questions from Salon, as well.

James has generally been supportive of DeVos’ agenda, which has steered money away from public schools to private and religious schools.

“She’s headed in the right direction,” James reportedly said in 2018. “She’s got a lot of inertia, I think. By doing things to get more power back to the states and to parents, I truly believe that if we give parents the resources and the opportunity to decide what’s best for their children, they will make the best decision 100% of the time.”

“The job Betsy DeVos is doing in pubic education, I think, is very, very good,” he reiterated a few months later in audio published by the Democratic Senate Majority PAC.

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Those comments came after DeVos sought to cut Department of Education funding while increasing federal grants to private schools.

“James is very on the record about supporting her,” Senate Majority PAC spokesman Matt Corridoni told Politifact Michigan, “and she’s very on the record about her positions.”

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Morrison must urgently increase resources to get stranded Australians home – 16 News

Greens Foreign Affairs spokesperson Senator Janet Rice said Morrison’s delay in getting stranded Australians home is unacceptable and has called on the government to urgently increase federal resources to boost quarantining capacity across the country.

Senator Rice said:

“Morrison has finally acted in announcing an expansion to quarantine facilities at Howard Springs, but it has taken him too long, and the solution is nowhere near good enough.

“While the Prime Minister has been gallivanting around Queensland on the campaign trail, almost 30,000 Australians have been waiting anxiously to find out when they’ll be able to see their families again.

“The Government’s delay has been devastating for Australians and their families stuck overseas. Over and over again we have heard heartbreaking stories of Australians who are separated from their children, from the medical care they need and from their jobs.

“The fact that tens of thousands are still waiting to get home is an indictment on Morrison’s inaction.

“The Greens have repeatedly said that most Australians wanting to come home can’t wait until the end of the year – they are desperate and fearful of yet again having flights cancelled. Not only that, as the virus continues to impact travel in other countries, getting home could become even harder for many.

“The Morrison Government urgently needs to increase federal resources to boost quarantining capacity across the country. Only then will Australians be able to get home when they need to and at reasonable cost.

“With transport networks all across the world in disarray, the government must also provide assistance for Australians to reach the point of departure. Otherwise, many would-be travellers could be watching a crucial lifeline leave without them.”

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Victorians allowed to travel 25km from home and socialise outdoors more freely under eased coronavirus restrictions

Melbourne residents will soon be able to travel up to 25 kilometres from their home and socialise and exercise outdoors without time limits under new changes to Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions. 

Outdoor gatherings will also be increased to a maximum of 10 people from two households from midnight on Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said as he outlined the new roadmap out of lockdown on Sunday.   

At the same time, tennis courts, skate parks, outdoor pools, golf clubs, and hairdressers will also be permitted to reopen, while real estate auctions and inspections can resume under social distancing restrictions.

After five days of single-digit case numbers, the Premier has been under pressure from federal politicians to open up the state inline with neighbouring New South Wales, but said he would not be rushed into lifting restrictions.

“I have announced today what is safe but will not undermine the sacrifice, the hard work, the pain, the amazing efforts that Victorians have put in,” he said. “You cannot run, you cannot sprint to COVID normal. You have to do this in a measured, steady and safe way.”

Two new cases and zero coronavirus deaths were recorded in the 24 hours before Mr Andrews’ announcement on Saturday, following a single new case the previous day

Further restrictions will be eased for Melbourne on 1 November, Mr Andrews said, including the lifting of the rule that permits people to leave the home for only four reasons; exercise, to buy essential goods, permitted work and health or caregiving. Two people plus any children will also be able to visit a home once-a-day. 

Retail, personal care, and hospitality businesses will also be allowed to reopen, with restaurants, pubs, and cafes allowed to host 20 people inside and a further 50 customers outside at any one time.

Under this step, travel from Melbourne to regional Victoria will still be outlawed, other than specific cases where Melbourne residents need to prepare properties in regional areas for flood or bushfire conditions.

Meanwhile, residents of regional Victoria will be able to have two adults and any children over to their home, hospitality venues will be able to expand their capacity to 70 patrons outside and another 40 inside, and religious gatherings will increase to 20 people.

From the 1 November, non-contact indoor sports, such as dance classes, can restart for under 18-year-olds with a 20 person limit and indoor pools can open with a maximum of non-adult 20 swimmers.

Under the original roadmap to COVID-normal, Melbourne was scheduled to move into the “third step” on 26 October, contingent on the state recording fewer than five new daily cases across a 14-day average and no more than five mystery cases in the same period.

As of Sunday, Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average sat at 7.5 with 15 cases with an unknown source in the fortnight to 15 October.

More to come.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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These six office chairs are on sale and perfect for home offices

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

Inbox Zero Executive Chair
The Executive Chair, now 81% off, has all the design features of a super-ergonomic office chair without the mesh. This luxe faux leather chair has contrast stitching, a powder-coated stainless steel frame, and cushy button tufting. This chair comes with all the features you need for an all-day seat (lumbar support, seat-height adjustment, tilt) and doesn’t look quite as corporate-ergonomic as other options.

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

Leaman Ergonomic Executive Chair
Now 40% off, this stylish chair comes with durable faux leather upholstery, padded armrests, and chic gold finishes. But it’s more than just good-looking: It also comes with mid-back lumbar support and a tilt-lock feature that lets you lean back while taking phone calls and reading and forward when you’re focused on a task.

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

Andel Task Chair
This straightforward chair—currently 26% off—doesn’t skimp on practical features: It’s got swivel capability, tilt mechanisms, seat-height adjustments, armrests, neck support, and an integrated lumbar cushion for all-day support. The tilt-locking mechanism also allows you 125 degrees of motion so you can recline or position yourself forward depending on your needs. From the armrests to the head support, this chair is designed to keep you aligned and in good posture.

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

Penkridge Conference Chair
If you like a chair without arms, this little number is refined, unobtrusive, and extremely affordable at just over $70. The L-shaped seat, which you can raise and lower as you like, includes an arched backrest for lower-back support and padding under your legs. Bonus: Without arms, it will easily tuck under a desk at the end of the work day.

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

Symple Stuff Clay Mesh Task Chair
As the name suggests, this chair (which is 44% off) keeps it basic—without overlooking the important stuff. The breathable mesh back keeps things cool while supporting your mid and upper back. The waterfall style seat, meanwhile, takes the pressure off your legs. Plus, it comes it in 10 different colors, so you can express your vibrant personality while hard at work.

[Photo: courtesy Wayfair]

Wayfair Basics Mesh Task Office Chair
Ringing it at just $65, Wayfair’s task chair is an unbeatable deal. It offers the comfort of a mesh chair, without the techie mesh-back look, and has a seat with 2 inches of padding for extra comfort. The chair, which is designed to support your mid to upper back region, comes in 15 different colors and is armless, so it’s easy to tuck away at the end of the day.

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Blueland and Reformation have created an eco-friendly home cleaning li

Reformation, the eco-friendly fashion label known for its flowy, patterned dresses has a new product in its lineup: Soap.

The Los Angeles brand has teamed up with cleaning startup Blueland to create a set of home cleaning products free of single-use plastic, which is available on both brands’ websites. The collection, which costs $50, includes dish powder, multi-surface spray, hand soap, and laundry tablets. Reformation’s designers created the minimalist bottles, and the brands collaborated to create a new fragrance for the line, called Pretty Earthy, with notes of fig tree.

[Multi-Surface Cleaner Photo: courtesy Reformation]

It’s an interesting collaboration for Reformation, which has historically partnered with other fashion brands, like New Balance and Patagonia. But in its efforts to reduce the fashion industry’s impact on the planet, Reformation is heavily focused on what happens to clothes after the customer buys them. Traditional laundry products tend to be both water and carbon intensive, and often involves lots of plastic. By contrast, this laundry system consists of a tin along with forty tablets which you throw into the load of laundry. Blueland ships refills packs for $14 that come in paper packaging, so there is no plastic used at any stage.

[Laundry Tin and Tablets Photo: courtesy Reformation]

Reformation has focused on helping customers understand how to care for their clothes more sustainably. It encourages customers to hand-wash and air-dry their clothes when possible, because this saves water and energy, and it offers a list of eco-friendly dry-cleaners on its website. It also sells a washing bag called Guppyfriend that captures microscopic fragments of plastic that are shed from synthetic garments during the washing process, that end up in waterways and are toxic to sea creatures.

[Foaming Hand Soap Photo: courtesy Reformation]

The other items in the kit, like the hand soap and the dish scrub, are a little less relevant to Reformation’s brand. But the fashion label appears to be trying to make sustainable living sexy, much like its body-hugging dresses.

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New mothers need longer ‘settling in’ period at home before midwife visits, NICE warns

New mothers should be given a longer “settling in” period at home, as very early visits from midwives could lead to unfair assessments, warns new guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Parents should be allowed at least 12 hours alone with their baby after they leave hospital to ensure risk assessments carried out by midwives during the first postnatal visit accurately reflect their living situation, the independent body recommends.

Without this “period of adjustment and settling in”, mothers may appear less capable at looking after their baby than if they had been given longer to find their feet, according to the guidance.

“The committee discussed the benefit of waiting at least 12 hours after transfer to home care before conducting the first postnatal visit as there should be a period of adjustment and settling in and a risk that the assessment may not be reflective of the situation if conducted earlier,” it states.

There is currently no firm rule as to when the first postnatal visit should take place. However, it could be as soon as a few hours after the mother is discharged from the hospital.

Allowing between 12 and 36 hours for parents to get their bearings is one of NICE’s recommendations in their updated guidance on the care of mothers and babies in the period from birth up to eight weeks after delivery.

Sarah McMullen, director of impact and engagement at the National Childbirth Trust, said: ‘’A midwife’s first home visit is really important to assess the physical and mental wellbeing of both mother and baby. Having enough time to settle back in at home, with a few cycles of feeding and some rest if possible, may give midwives a more realistic assessment of welfare and support needs.

“However, new mums and partners should also be informed of what to look out for, for example heavy blood loss or persistent headache, and have a number to call in case of any urgent problems before the midwife’s visit.”

NICE’s guidance, which was last updated in 2006, aims to “improve consistency of care across the country”. It is based on evidence gathered before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

It emphasises the need to “tailor” birthing and recovery plans around each mother’s “needs and preferences”.

Among NICE’s new recommendations is that the mother’s bladder function should be one of the health checks carried out before she and her baby are discharged from hospital. It warns that “undetected or unmanaged urinary retention can lead to serious long-term consequences such as urinary incontinence”.

The guidance also recommends checking that the mother is able to feed her baby successfully before going home.

NICE also emphasises the importance of supporting new mothers in developing an emotional attachment to their baby.

It recommends considering how the woman is recovering physically and emotionally from the birth, and whether there were any birthing traumas or complications.

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Bhanu Athaiya, India’s first Oscar winner, dies aged 91 at her Mumbai home

Athaiya, who won an Oscar for her work in the 1983 film “Gandhi”, passed away peacefully in her sleep, her daughter Radhika Gupta told PTI.

Mumbai: Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India’s first Oscar winner, died at her home on Thursday after prolonged illness, her daughter said. She was 91.

Athaiya, who won an Oscar for her work in the 1983 film “Gandhi”, passed away peacefully in her sleep, her daughter Radhika Gupta told PTI.  


The last rites took place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai  

“She passed away early this morning. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with a tumour in her brain. For the last three years, she was bedridden because one side (of her body) was paralysed,” her daughter said.

Athaiya, who was born in Kolhapur, began her career as a costume designer in Hindi cinema with Guru Dutt’s 1956 superhit “C.I.D”.

She won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design in Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi” along with John Mollo.

In 2012, Athaiya returned her Oscar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for safe-keeping.

In a career spanning five decades and over 100 films, she won two National Awards — for Gulzar”s mystery drama “Lekin” (1990) and the period film “Lagaan” directed by Ashutosh Gowariker (2001).


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