Sunday
Nov122017

Travel with Hyperloop

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Elon Musk’s BFG programme to transport people across the world using rockets. But transporting people quickly between continents is not all Musk is interested in. He also has a plan to revolutionise the way people travel between cities.

You’d think that with the rapid pace of technological advancements, we would have a solution to traffic jams by now. Science fiction tells us the solution is flying cars zipping across the city skyline. However the real solution might actually be underground.

Musk's solution is called Hyperloop, and he claims it will be faster than trains, safer than automobiles and less damaging to the environment than any of the existing transportation systems out there. They say when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But Hyperloop is a serious proposition.

First introduced by Musk in the form of a white paper in 2013, it was envisioned that a Hyperloop ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take only 30 minutes instead of the usual six hours it would normally take by car.

In his original version, Musk describes a system consisting of two massive tubes extending from Los Angeles to San Francisco through which pods carrying passengers would travel at a blazing speed of up to 1,126km per hour. The speed is achieved through the use of magnetic accelerators placed along the length of the tube which propels the pods forward through a cushion of air.

Many states in the USA and many countries around the world have expressed interest in Hyperloop. Colorado is seriously looking at being the first state to have Hyperloop. Down South, Mexico is looking at connecting Mexico City with Guadalajara via Hyperloop. Other countries with serious plans for Hyperloop include Czech Republic, France, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Slovakia, Sweden and United Arab Emirates.

THE KEY PLAYERS

The interesting thing is at the time he introduced Hyperloop, Musk wasn’t planning on doing it himself. Rather, he was just proposing something that others could take up. Two companies were indeed formed to build the Hyperloop system. One was called Hyperloop One (now called Virgin Hyperloop One after Richard Branson invested into it) and the other is Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Virgin Hyperloop One has gained a lot of attention because of Branson's involvement and the news that Colorado Department of Transport has partnered with the company to look into constructing a Hyperloop linking the Denver International Airport to nearby cities such as Vail and Pueblo.

“With Virgin Hyperloop One, passengers and cargo will be loaded into a pod, and accelerated gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The pod quickly lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag. We're incredibly excited about the technology behind Virgin Hyperloop One and the way it could transform passengers’ lives,” wrote Branson in a blog posting announcing his investment in the company.

Musk, who did not originally intend to be involved, has decided he wants to be part of the action as well. He has claimed that he has a verbal agreement from the US government to build a Hyperloop between New York and Washington DC. He also claims the trip would take only about 30 minutes.

Hyperloop could be built above or below ground. Musk is looking at the latter option through his company, the cheekily-named Boring Company. That company was not originally set up for Hyperloop. Rather it was intended to build a vast network of tunnels beneath major cities like Los Angeles where cars can be transported across town on an “electric skate” at speeds of 201.17 km per hour. Once they reached their destinations, they would be brought up above ground via elevators and driven on the roads again.

No congestion and fast speeds. The urban traffic jam problem would be resolved. That’s the idea anyway. Now Musk wants to include even faster, inter-city travel into Boring Company’s portfolio.

In July, the company announced: "At the Boring Company, we plan to build low-cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems. Most will be standard pressurised tunnels with electric skates going 201.17 km per hour. For long-distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurised pods in a depressurised tunnel to allow speeds of up to approximately 965.61 km per hour (AKA Hyperloop).”

CHALLENGES

Hyperloop technology is still very much a work-in-progress but Nasa has looked at the Hyperloop concept and concluded that estimates of energy consumption, passenger throughput and mission analyses all support Hyperloop as a faster and cheaper alternative to short-haul flights of 402 to 804 km.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Transportation’s feasibility assessment concluded that Hyperloop routes could be up to six times more energy efficient than air travel on short routes, and over three times faster than the world's fastest high-speed rail system.

Virgin Hyperloop One did a small-scale test of the technology earlier this year but the pod didn’t travel at top speed (only 305 kph instead of the promised 965 kph) so you could say that the technology is still unproven. But it seems like it’s just a matter of time before they do get the technology right.

A bigger challenge would be cost. Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, has said that costs would only be two-thirds as high as high-speed rail. He gamely projected that a trip between two cities 60 kilometres apart could cost as little as US$5 (RM21.15). That does seem too good to be true.

Many experts have pointed out that building any mass transportation system, and especially one that is underground, would be prohibitive costly and that it can’t be done without government subsidy.

That shouldn’t be a problem for someone like Musk though. The Los Angeles Times has estimated that collectively, Musk’s electric car, solar power and space companies have garnered US$5 billion in government funding. There’s no reason he can’t get more for Hyperloop. And if the technology proves to be viable, the whole world would be better off for it.

Sunday
Nov052017

Future of food

A common theme in science fiction movies is a dystopian future where food is scarce. If you watched the recent Harrison Ford movie, Blade Runner 2049, you’d have noticed that in the near future humans will have to turn to eating grubs for their source of protein.

Short of a nuclear war, earth probably won’t resemble anything as miserable as how it’s depicted in that movie. But by 2049, earth’s population will be about nine billion people.

With so many mouths to feed, food production would need to undergo a revolution in order to meet demand. Fortunately, real life offers a more optimistic outlook than science fiction movies when it comes to the future of food.

“I believe that in 30 years or so we’ll no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same, and also be much healthier for everyone,” predicts Virgin founder Richard Branson. He could be right if some of the most cutting-edge food tech companies have their way. Many of them are offering revolutionary new ways to produce meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.

These companies typically fall under two categories. One type makes meat-like products from plants. The other makes meat from animal cells. Almost all of them are driven by environmentally-conscious principles of wanting to find a better way to produce food without harming the earth and without causing suffering to animals.

Of course, in order for their products to be commercially-viable, they need to appeal more to other factors than just environmental concerns. Some people might eat environmentally-friendly meals as a matter of principle but most people care more about taste, cost and convenience.

If you can offer people meat alternatives that taste just like the real thing, costs less, and is widely available, there’s no reason people won’t opt for it. But doing that is easier said than done. But some companies are making exceptional strides in this area.

Healthier eating and environmentally-friendly

Meat: Fake & Cultured

Livestock production is really bad for the environment. It takes up a lot of land and water and produces a lot of greenhouse gas. Impossible Foods has come up with a veggie-based burger that uses 95 per cent less land, a quarter of the water and produces only an eighth of the greenhouse gases compared to what it takes to make an equivalent amount of real beef patties.

If you’ve tasted mock meat in vegetarian restaurants, you’ll probably have the impression that veggie-based meat will never come close to tasting like the real thing. But the Impossible Burger has something going for it that today’s mock meat doesn’t — it incorporates heme into its burgers.

Heme is an iron-carrying chemical that makes blood red and gives meat its familiar flavour. To achieve the same meaty flavour, Impossible Foods uses a plant-based version of heme that works remarkably well when blended with a special mixture of amino acids, sugars and vitamins. Coconut oil is used in place of animal fats so that the patties sizzle when cooked. The result is a patty that tastes just like beef. Not only is the Impossible Burger environmentally-friendly, it’s also better for you than real meat because it doesn’t have hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or any artificial flavours.

The company recently launched a new plant in California that can produce about 454,000 kilogrammes of Impossible Burgers per month. The cost of producing that burger is still higher than the cost of a meat-based burger but the company estimates that it should be able to match the cost of meat within two or three years and eventually be cheaper than the real thing.

A different approach to producing meat without animals is being pursued by Memphis Meats, which is creating meat from real animal cells. Doing it this way eliminates the need to breed, feed and slaughter animals. The company grows these cells in large steel tanks. It says this approach uses a tenth of the water and one percent of the land needed to rear animals.

Seafood: Fake and Cultured

Our oceans are over-exploited as consumption of fish continues to climb. If nothing is done about this, fish stocks will get depleted in the near future. But if the governments of the world impose strict limits on fishing, the cost of seafood — which is generally already quite expensive — will skyrocket.

New Wave Foods is producing a vegan shrimp that looks and tastes just like the real thing. It’s not that mock meat stuff you can find in Chinese restaurants which don’t look or taste like real shrimp.

To make the shrimp realistic, the company uses the same red algae consumed by shrimp that gives them their characteristic pinkish colouring, and combines it with plant-based proteins to create the fake shrimp. No animal cells are used. Because of that, it’s low-fat, cholesterol-free and allergen-free. Best of all, you don’t have to peel the shrimp (there’s no shell to peel) and you don’t need to devein it either. What you have is just the “meat” part of the shrimp to enjoy.

As with the case of red meat, seafood also has a cultured approach for those who want real seafood meat instead of a plant substitute. One company leading the way on that is Finless Foods.

By using a cutting-edge cell culture technique, a small sample of cells from a living marine animal is cultured and structured in a brewery-like environment in the shape of a fish fillet. It’ll grow into a shape that resembles and has the same texture as real fish meat. Best of all, it’s fish meat without antibiotics, mercury and other negative elements that can be found in seafood today.

Dairy-Free Milk & Chicken-less Eggs

There are many types of plant-based alternatives to real milk. But almost all of today’s dairy-free milk options contain very little or even no protein. Almond milk, for example, has 1g of protein per serving. Coconut milk and cashew milk have none.

Ripple is a company that creates dairy-free milk from peas, which offers an impressive 8g of protein per serving 8g. Not only that, it’s also high in bioavailable calcium (50 per cent more than in real milk), potassium and omega-3. It’s also lower in calories than real milk. For those who have all kinds of allergies, rest assured Ripple milk is free of nuts, lactose, gluten and soya. Best of all, it has all rich, creamy texture of milk that today’s alternatives don’t have.

Meanwhile, Clara Foods is working towards making the world’s first animal-free egg white. Eggs are a great source of protein but unfortunately, the battery-type of farming isn’t only unsanitary and unhealthy, the chickens involved suffer greatly. Clara Foods wants to take the chicken out of the equation and is producing egg white that’s completely animal-free and uses less land and water.

It leverages on advances in fermentation technology to develop these egg whites in a more sustainable, human and disease-free way. It goes without saying that its product will look and taste like the real thing and have the same nutritional value. The challenge is to make it cheaper than the real thing. That will take time but that should happen in due time.

Hopefully we won’t have to resort to eating grubs or insects in the future but instead can continue to enjoy what we like to eat in a healthier way and without causing too much damage to the environment or causing suffering to animals. Let’s hope these companies succeed in the market place with their cutting-edge products in the years to come.

Sunday
Oct292017

Kitchen of the future

When people think of a smart home, they think of a house filled with electronic gadgetry that can detect your presence and adjust the ambience of the home to fit your mood. You can easily imagine voice-activated controls all over the place; and what can’t be controlled by voice can certainly be done through the phone, which will be a kind of multipurpose remote control for everything.

When our home becomes a “smart” home, you can expect every section of the house to be improved by technology. But there’s no likelier place where technology would have the most impact than the kitchen. There are so many possibilities when it comes to the kitchen of the future.

For a glimpse of what the future has in store for the kitchen, you can look at what IKEA came up with in collaboration with famed design house IDEO, called Concept Kitchen 2025 (http://conceptkitchen2025.ideo.london).

This concept envisions a table of the future which has multifunctional uses. It’s a preparation surface, hob, dining table, work bench and children’s play area — all in one. But more than that, it’s a smart table. If you were to place an over-ripe tomato on it, IKEA’s Table for Living will deliver you a quick and easy recipe that makes use of very ripe tomatoes (this eliminates wastage). It’s also possible to cook on it via hidden induction coils that heat the inside of pots and pans rather than their surfaces, making the table very amenable for working and eating as well.

Meanwhile, The Modern Pantry takes on the role of the fridge as well. Think of it as a fridge with the doors removed so you can see exactly what you have left and thus won’t overbuy groceries. The refrigeration comes in the form of transparent containers that are individually temperature-controlled via an induction cooling technology embedded into the shelves.

This is all very cool stuff and of course that’s just a sampling of the kind of thing you can expect in the kitchen of the future. There are many companies working on redefining what a kitchen should be. Here are the general broad areas of development you can look forward to in the very near future.

Phone as the hub

As mentioned, the phone — which is already the centre of our personal universe — will play a huge role in the smart home and will certainly be a critical component of the kitchen of the future. It will be a kind of remote control device that allows us to monitor and control various things in the kitchen, including pre-heating an oven.

You could be on your way home from work and you could get your oven started even before you arrive. Programmable and remote-controlled appliances allow users to start the cooking and go off to do other chores. We can be automatically alerted by phone when the food is ready.

Smart devices

Most of the appliances we use in the kitchen will become smart appliances. What that means will vary from company to company but there are common denominators. Smart appliances generally have the ability to interface with other devices (more on that in the Internet of Things section below) and they ultimately help to save us time and provide more convenience.

Multitasking is a reality of modern life. Traditionally, kitchens are suitable for one thing only: cooking. But many companies are already working on kitchen equipment that has Internet connectivity and some kind of user interface that makes it possible to browse the Net — not just for recipes but for checking emails, make Skype calls and other social or work-related activities. You can throw away the cookbooks. A few taps and you can access a database of recipes, complete with video instructions.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The key to making appliances truly “smart” is connectivity. IoT refers to objects being embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity so they can collect information and communicate with each other.

A simple example of how this can work is your oven could trigger a text message to let you know when the food you’re roasting is ready. Your refrigerator could perform some basic inventory management and automatically place an order to an online grocery store order based on pre-set prices you’d like to pay for certain items. IoT can also help you with achieving a healthy diet. For example, your blender can link to a fitness monitor on your watch or phone to determine how much calories you’d burned that day. It can then link to your fridge to find out what fruits or vegetables you have in there and come up with a suitable concoction for you.

3D Printing

When people think of 3D printing, they tend to think of manufacturing physical objects but the same process that creates objects via 3D printing can be used to create food. A start-up called Natural Machines is coming up with a device called Foodini which can act as a “food manufacturing plant in people’s kitchens.”

Its counter-top device allows you to create different types of food items through an extrusion system that uses stainless steel cartridges filled with whatever raw ingredients you wish to put into the food item you wish to make. It’s not just sweet food like cookies that you can make; it’s also possible to make savoury food like burgers, nuggets and even pizza. You could easily imagine whole new industries emerging providing all the ingredients needed to fill the cartridges to make the different kinds of sweet and savoury food.

Health & Wellness

The kitchen of the future will help usher in healthy eating to a new level. As mentioned earlier, IoT will allow your appliances to connect with your health monitoring device — whether it’s in your watch or phone — in order to help create the right type of food for you based on your nutritional needs.

If your fitness profile is stored in the cloud, it would actually be possible for you to get the right type of food made for you when you visit your friend’s house, assuming they have a IoT-enabled smart kitchen as well. Their blender can whip

you up the right shake and their 3D Printer can produce for you pizza with just the right type of ingredients and calories for your profile.

Keeping It Green

A smart kitchen ought to save us time and money. It ought to keep us healthy. And it should also help us with one important aspect of life in the 21st century, which is to help us maintain an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. In the kitchen, that usually means energy savings and reducing food wastage.

Smart appliances will also be more energy and resource-efficient. Smart dishwashers will not only use less electricity, they’d also be able to determine the amount of items to be washed and apply just the right amount of soap and water to get the job done. One of the reasons food gets wasted is the wrong amount of food is cooked when you’re preparing for many people. Smart appliances will be able to tell you exactly how much food to cook when you input the number of people you’re cooking for. It’ll also be able to tell you exactly how much of each ingredient to put in and that precision will go a long way towards reducing wastage.

Something to look forward to

The kitchen of the future can be the most technologically-innovative part of your house and best of all, much of the technology described is already here, albeit at a nascent stage. For sure, all these wonder devices will be super expensive at first but as with all popular technological advancements, over time it’ll become both commonplace and affordable.

Sunday
Oct222017

Challenges of super-fast air travel

A few months back, I wrote about the prospect of colonising Mars. Tesla’s Elon Musk is a key figure in all this with his ambitious SpaceX programme. Late last month, Musk gave an update at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide where he unveiled a new launch vehicle system codenamed “BFR”.

The most interesting aspect of his speech was not about Mars but about what the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) can do for inter-continental travel. Turns out, BFR is not just good for taking people to Mars; it can also be used to transport people from one side of the earth to the other — and in under an hour!

Musk, who many view to be the new Steve Jobs because of his visionary approach to technology, claims that under this system, passengers would be able to make most long distance trips within 30 minutes. Best of all, they can do it for cheap — at roughly the same price as an international economy-class airline ticket.

He accompanied his talk with a promo video that depicted passengers travelling from Manhattan to Shanghai in just 39 minutes. The video listed various trips which could be completed in less than an hour, such as Los Angeles to Toronto (24 minutes), Bangkok to Dubai (27 minutes) and London to Dubai (29 minutes).

Somehow though I don’t think Musk’s announcement has got Tony Fernandes lying awake at night. Super-fast intercontinental travel at economy prices sounds too good to be true — and it probably is.

TECHNOLOGY AND CHALLENGES

For sure, the underlying technology behind rocket travel is already well-established. You’ve probably heard of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), which several countries have in their military arsenals. These are usually designed to carry nuclear warheads. Musk’s plan is essentially for these rockets to carry people — about 100 at a time — instead of warheads.

But just because the technology is there doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges. In fact, there are plenty, chief of which is how do you transport people comfortably in a rocket? Astronauts are trained to endure the strains of launch, fast speeds, re-entry and landing but this isn’t what ordinary people are used to.

It’s questionable whether anyone other than those who have been specially trained for space travel could take it. The strong gravitational forces followed by a period of weightlessness and then another strong gravitational pull would make even the worst airplane turbulence seem like a walk in the park.

This brings us to another crucial point: the training necessary for such a trip. The purpose of travelling by rocket is to save time. But in order to be able to make such a trip, surely the passengers will have to go through weeks, if not months of training to acclimatise their body to the strains of rocket travel. Will people be willing to do this rather than simply endure a long-haul airline flight? Compared to astronaut training, perhaps a 13-hour flight doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Then there’s the security aspect. The flight itself might take only half an hour but the time required to get passengers into the rocket, especially with the super strict security checks and the special outfits they’d have to wear, will surely take much longer than what it takes to board passengers onto a plane. It would probably take hours.

So, flight time: 30 minutes, boarding time: a few hours, training time: several weeks (if not months). Maybe it’s just not worth it.

Now, all this is assuming the economics of it makes sense. Remember Musk had claimed that you’d be able to do this for the price of an economy fare airline ticket. How he will be able to achieve this is not clear given how costly it is to launch a rocket.

OTHER FACTORS

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume all these challenges highlighted so far can be overcome. Let’s say he’s found a way to make the travel comfortable — or at least not unbearable — and you can load passengers onto the rocket quite quickly. Let’s also assume that he’s found a way to keep it cheap. There’s still the fear factor to deal with.

Do you remember how the Space Shuttle Columbia blew up in 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board? Now, imagine if something like that were to happen with Musk’s BFR rocket, killing all 100 people on board. All it would take is for one incident like that to scare off all future passengers.

It’s worth remembering what happened to the Concorde, which was able to fly at twice the speed of sound. Introduced in 1976, it was retired in 2003 by Air France and British Airways because of low passenger numbers following a high-profile 2000 crash which killed everyone on board. It was the only fatal accident involving the Concorde but that was enough to scare people off.

When you compare statistics for commercial airline and rocket crashes, it doesn’t look good for the latter. For commercial airlines, one in 500,000 flights results in a fatal crash. In contrast, one in 20 rocket launches fail.

For sure the world could use some revolutionary new way of intercontinental travel which would radically transform how international business is done. And maybe the solution isn’t necessarily rocket-based.

For all we know, Musk’s talk of BFR could be just hype to get people talking about high-speed intercontinental travel. But even that is a good thing. At least he has rekindled public interest in fast air travel. Hopefully it will spur interest among other technologists and industrialists — like Virgin’s Richard Branson for instance — and we could see super-fast air travel within our lifetime.

Sunday
Oct152017

Telecommuting Best Practices

There’s a difference between working from home when you’re a freelancer and working from home as an employee. Generally speaking, the phrase “telecommuting” refers to the latter. In my career I have experienced both. Although there are some differences between the two, many of the best practices are applicable to both.

Not everyone works well from home. Although there are plenty of studies that show that productivity can be enhanced when certain types of employees are allowed to work from home, a recent decision by IBM to start recalling some of its telecommuters back to the office is an indication that in some cases, telecommuting might not be working. The IBM case is significant because that company is a pioneer of telecommuting.

IBM’s telecommuting policy began in 1979 at one of its labs in California where its researchers found themselves fighting for access to the lab’s mainframe computer. This was before the era of personal computers. In response, the management installed terminals in the home of five of its researchers.

At the same time, something similar was happening at its divisions on the East Coast of the US where systems engineer and even sales representatives were finding it difficult to get access to the office mainframe. Some two dozen remote terminals were then installed in employee homes to ease the congestion.

Those two developments ushered in the era of telecommuting at IBM. And it spread fast. By 1983, more than 2,000 IBM employees were working from home. The launch of the IBM Thinkpad laptop in 1992 launched an avalanche of telecommuters and by 1995, the company had 10,000 telecommuters. In 1998, telecommuting had been implemented in its offices worldwide, bringing the total number of mobile workers to 88,000. A 2009 IBM report entitled Working Outside the Box revealed that by then, some 40 per cent of IBM’s 386,000 employees in 173 countries had no office at all.

IBM not only pioneered telecommuting, it was a champion of the practice and promoted the idea of telecommuting for other companies as well as for the government. Then, in March this year, came the surprising announcement that IBM wanted thousands of its workers back into the office. It wasn’t alone. Other companies like Yahoo, Reddit, Aetna and Best Buy had also scaled back its telecommuting practices.

Could all those studies that showed the benefit of telecommuting be wrong? Actually, whether telecommuting works well or not depends a lot on the nature of the work that you’re doing. Freelancers work from home — they usually don’t have offices unless you consider Starbucks an office — and they do just fine. That’s because freelancers usually work independently and do not have to collaborate so much with other people.

It’s different if you’re an employee and you have to collaborate with others and don’t typically work in isolation. An employee who’s used to working in an office environment might find it challenging to get work done at home. It’s not that they’re necessarily goofing off or taking advantage of their newfound freedom but it could be just that they’re not used to working remotely and by themselves.

Based on my personal experience of working from home, both as a freelancer and as a telecommuter, I have figured out some best practices that would make the home-working environment both productive and efficient.

Here are five key telecommuting tips:

1. Set up a home office or work corner

I don’t think it’s a good idea to work from the living room or kitchen table or bedroom. If you’re going to work from home, you need to either set aside a small room just for work purposes or at least a corner somewhere which is meant for work. Psychologically, when you are in such work places, it’s easier to get into “work mode” and thus easier to focus on what needs to be done.

2. Get the necessary infrastructure

If you want to work from home, you’ll need to invest in the necessary equipment to make it possible for you to do productive work. Of particular importance for telecommuters are communication and collaboration

tools. High-speed Internet and a powerful desktop or laptop computer are crucial for smooth teleconferencing and for downloading and uploading data, documents and digital files of all kinds. So is collaboration software like Dropbox. You cannot afford to be stingy on such things because as an employee working from home, you need to be able to effectively communicate and collaborate with colleagues.

3. Remove distractions

If you have a home office, you can keep distractions like kids and the TV set and the refrigerator out of sight. But another form of distraction doesn’t have anything to do with people moving about or the temptation of TV or food. It’s our addiction to the Internet and especially social media.

In the office, we don’t browse social media as much because we don’t want to be seen as goofing off. But in the home, there’s no one stopping you from spending hours on the web. There are special applications and software that are designed to block social media for a set period of time when you’re supposed to work but frankly, if you need something like that to keep you disciplined, you really aren’t cut out for telecommuting. You just have to tell yourself that from a set time period, you will not browse the Internet unless it’s related to work.

4. Take breaks and naps

One of the reasons working in an office environment is not as productive is that workers are often tired and sleepy in the afternoon but are forced to keep their eyes open lest they be accused of sleeping on the job. So they carry on like zombies until that sleepy wave goes away. Imagine how much productivity is lost because of that.

Although some enlightened companies have “siesta” policies that allow workers to take power naps, most workplaces still frown upon the idea of employees napping, even if only for 15 or 20 minutes. That’s not a problem if you’re working from home. So, if you’re tired and need to catch some shut-eye, do so. Then wake up fresh and do your work with gusto.

5. Schedule some outside meetings

Working from home doesn’t mean being a hermit and never stepping outside. It’s important to have live interactions too because some things are still much easier to discuss in person. Besides, it’s good for you to get out once in a while. You could arrange to meet associates and colleagues in a coffee joint or you could even go into the office every now and then.

If you prefer to set your own time and work in the comforts of your own home, telecommuting is a great option. I personally find it hard to imagine working in a 9-to-5 office environment again. But if you’re the type who needs the discipline of set hours in a formal office environment, or if you get easily side-tracked and distracted, or if you simply prefer having colleagues around when you’re working, then maybe telecommuting is not a good option. It’s certainly not for everyone, as IBM has found out the hard way.