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Staying Productive whilst Working from Home in Vietnam


The idea of working from home, so foreign to some, has become a hard-learned reality during the past two years. For many, it has opened the door to a level of flexibility never thought possible in the traditional job market, whilst for others, it might have been a somewhat daunting undertaking.

Vietnam offers some fantastic accommodations within an extremely modest price range, allowing working from home to be a real treat.

Whether you're new to the work-from-home concept or a seasoned pro, you're likely to find something useful in our top tips on working remotely in Vietnam.

Creating a Good Setup within Your Home

One of the essential parts of working from home is your setup. If you've put down roots and plan on staying in one city for a decent amount of time, then a desk set at a perfect height with an ergonomic office chair complete with a screen set an arm's length away from your face is a must. However, if you can't get a hold of an ergonomic chair or are looking to budget a little, make sure you get some decent lumbar support; your back and posture will thank you.

staying productive work from home vietnam egronomic 1

  • If you're frequently traveling, then an ergonomic setup might not be feasible; however, there are a few simple hacks that can save you from getting a sore back.
  • If you're working from a sofa, make sure you elevate your computer using a cushion, this will help keep your back nice and straight and avoid slouching.
  • If your desk or table isn't a good height, throw some books underneath your laptop and elevate it to eye level. I find that if a desk isn't available, a humble stool can act as a solid replacement.
  • Avoid sitting for too long. An adjustable height ironing board can act as a fantastic alternative to a standing desk if you have one available. Try to divide your time up evenly between sitting and standing. Most mid-range hotels will be able to supply you with an ironing board upon request.

staying productive work from home vietnam setup 1

The heat and humidity throughout the country can cause some discomfort, especially during the dry season in Vietnam. It's tempting to blast the air conditioning throughout the day, but this generally means we are preventing natural airflow. As long as your environment allows, try to open some windows and use a fan instead of the air conditioner, you may find that this reduces drowsiness. If you're planning on being based in a location for a reasonable length of time, make sure you find out the last time the air conditioning filters have been cleaned recently. Dehumidifiers are never a bad thing to have around and will create a significantly drier and more comfortable working environment.

How to Stay on Task

Whether you're based in the city or the countryside, Vietnam has its fair share of distractions. Be it the (very) early morning cries of a cockerel or the constant beeping of traffic, there always seems to be something trying to keep your mind away from work. So, how can we stay on task?

This may sound obvious, but the most important goal is to maintain focus throughout the day:

  • Close all irrelevant tabs on your browser.
  • Close any applications, such as Slack that might send you a notification mid-flow.
  • If your phone's a distraction, move it to another room or set it to do not disturb mode.
  • A solid pair of headphones or earbuds will help drown out unwanted noise. A playlist of beatless ambient helps focus the brain.
  • Time yourself. If you've put an hour aside to work, set a timer and plug away at your tasks until the time is up.
  • Take guilt-free breaks. No matter how nice your setup is, getting away from the screen is integral to maintaining your drive and focus. Enjoy every slurp of that delicious phở from down the street, take in the scenery, and enjoy the comings and goings of people outside.
  • Find the best hours to work. If you're finding that distractions abound during a particular time, the flexibility of working remotely may allow you to adjust your time frame. Evenings can be a cooler, quieter, and calmer time to get your work done.
  • Once the break is over, get back to it. Take a deep breath, sit down and remove anything distracting from the equation.

Staying Healthy, Mentally & Physically

Vietnam takes exercising very seriously. Every morning and evening, you'll see people strolling around, stretching, dancing, and doing aerobics. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you can't follow a similar routine. If you're an early riser, head outside and see what the locals are up to. Most parks feature basic exercise equipment that allows you to do solid bodyweight and cardio workouts. If you're stuck inside, fear not; there's a plethora of gyms and personal training programs that offer cheap membership and free online training to help you stay on track.

When it comes to health and safety, Vietnam has eased the safety restrictions compared to the strict lockdowns throughout the last two years. While travelers can finally get back on the road again, it’s important to keep up with local regulations to protect local communities, including wearing masks in crowded public areas. Even if you don’t speak the language, you can still find the latest news in English online. Make sure you get a good travel insurance plan with Covid-19 coverage before traveling!

Suppose you're feeling a little socially disconnected. In that case, plenty of Facebook groups cater to the location's independent community. They can help connect you with others working from home. Co-working spaces such as Toong in Hanoi, Enouvo Space in Danang and Dreamplex in Saigon are great places to co-work and network while offering an interesting escape from the home office environment.

With local food being so cheap and readily available in Vietnam, it's easy to get into the habit of continually eating out. Although those bowls of Bun Bo Hue are delicious, overconsumption can be unhealthy as they tend to contain a lot of salt and oil. For a healthier approach, visit one of the many open markets that are only a stone's throw away in any direction and stock up on some fresh vegetables and fruit. If you can't resist street food, try opting out of the fried foods and aim more towards dishes like Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls) and Goi Ngo Sen (Lotus Root Salad). If possible, switch out the white rice for Gao Luc (brown rice). A healthy diet will help you keep your energy and maintain focus.

Try to make time to explore as much as you can. Vietnam is a marvelous country with a fantastic range of unique environments to discover and delicious food to try. SIM Cards are incredibly cheap and signal, even in some of the more remote areas, is generally good enough to facilitate hot-spotting so you can jump into work wherever you want.

Staying Productive

In Vietnam, you have all the tools at your disposal to set up an affordable, healthy, and productive workspace. There's so much to see and do that both long and short breaks to maintain focus will always lead to a rewarding experience. The burgeoning Nomad scene offers all the resources you need to remain connected to those working around you, both online and offline. A decent office can be set up with just a little imagination if you're moving around the country.

Ultimately, your productivity comes down to your own drive to focus. Maintaining a good mindset is vital. Luckily there are enough unique and beautiful experiences to reward yourself with once the work has been done, so get your head down and achieve some goals, but, most importantly, don't forget to enjoy yourself after.


© Written by Kim Pham for

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Sunday, 05 February 2023

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