SINGAPORE - Are you working from home and is noisy renovation work in the neighbourhood driving you up the wall? You are not alone.
According to a CNA report last November, the National Environment Agency received 286 complaints about renovation noise among landed property residents - a 60 per cent jump from the 178 complaints during the same period in 2019.
With close to 25,000 Housing Board resale flats sold last year - the most in eight years - renovations are expected to be on the rise in the coming months.
As working from home remains the norm, how can people tune out the din from the hacking, hammering and drilling? Unless you have an airport runway headset, chances are, you would not be able to.
But here are some places where you can do your work in peace.
1. Public libraries
If you do not fancy paying for a place to work, public libraries are free and usually have plenty of power points. Plus, there are 27 of them islandwide and almost one in every neighbourhood. But note that calls are not allowed on the premises.
Head down early as libraries are popular with students, especially during examination periods.
And while there are no limits on dwelling time on weekdays, there is a timed entry system on weekends in line with social distancing guidelines. Visitors must make advance bookings on this website and can book for up to five persons a slot.
Open from 10am to 9pm daily, the National Library in Victoria Street, which is brightly lit and spacious, has many long desks on levels seven to 11.
Another place to get work done is Tampines Regional Library at Our Tampines Hub. If you cannot get a seat at the library, there are several tables around Singapore's largest integrated community and lifestyle hub.
2. Co-working spaces
These places have mushroomed here over the years, especially in the central areas. The best ones have ergonomic tables and seats, scenic views and free coffee.
Most offer day passes for hot desks and extensive packages for those interested in the long haul.
At the Hive in Carpenter Street, a $30++ day pass gets you a hot desk, access to phone booths and free-flow coffee from the pantry. For a breather, go up to the rooftop cafe overlooking Marina Bay.
There is also a 10-day plan priced at $250++, which includes benefits like printing credits. A monthly plan, which offers 24-hour access, is available at $400++.
At JustCo, its JustDesk Unlimited membership ($398++ a month) lets you work at any of its 12 locations, including Marina One and MacDonald House in Orchard Road.
You have unlimited 24-hour access to one outlet and office-hour access to the remaining outlets.
The outlets have recreational facilities - such as a basketball arcade machine at The Centrepoint and a foosball table at Marina Square. Due to safe management measures, members who wish to use these facilities have to request assistance from the staff.
3. Hotels and serviced apartments
Why not treat yourself to a workation?
Many hotels have launched work-from-hotel packages. Think free-flow coffee, dining credits, plush armchairs and comfortable workstations. And, most importantly, peace and quiet.
For an affordable package, get the $28 daily pass offered by Furama RiverFront in Havelock Road. From 9am to 10.30pm, you get a work space with a view of a 6m waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.
Enjoy unlimited coffee, tea and juices, $15 worth of dining credits and complimentary parking. You also get access to paid programmes such as cocktail mixology workshops and yoga classes curated by The Provisions, the hotel's community arm supporting local brands and communities.
A monthly pass, bundled with $150 dining credits, is available at $380. To book, go to this website.
If you need a bigger space and a longer respite from the renovation noise, go for a serviced apartment, which typically has a separate living area, a kitchen equipped with appliances and a washing machine.
Frasers Hospitality's Reno-Vacation Package, launched last September, is available till this September. Guests have to book a minimum stay of seven nights.
Prices start at $158 a night (before GST) for a Studio Deluxe apartment at Fraser Residence Orchard. To book, go to this website.
While working in cafes was common even before the pandemic, some places have made their environments friendlier for remote work.
Genius Central Singapore in Amoy Street has single-person tables and long desks for group discussions. There are plenty of charging points, as well as free Wi-Fi and meeting rooms.
Under a promotion currently scheduled to run until July 31, customers can pay $18++ to use the cafe as a work space for eight hours between 8am and 8pm.
The price includes $18 worth of dining credits and faster Internet access. Once the promotion ends, the plan will cost $35.
Those who do not wish to pay for the plan can stay for up to two hours. The cafe serves healthy bowls packed with greens, grains and other plant-based fare.
At Grids Coffee, housed in a three-storey shophouse in Chinatown, customers who spend a minimum of $30 can work in an art gallery space with access to Wi-Fi and charging until 6pm. It is best to book ahead, as seats are limited.
The cafe offers a variety of Asian and Western fare, as well as tea blends such as Iron Goddess Oolong and Second Flush Darjeeling. After work, chill with sake and craft beer.
5. Community clubs (CCs)
Like public libraries, these places are free for public use and can be found in any neighbourhood. They have rooms furnished with power points, and basic tables and chairs.
Sengkang CC, for instance, has a work space with power points and a pay-per-usage photocopier. The pantry and private meeting rooms are closed due to Covid-19 curbs.
For the same reason, only 16 people at one time are allowed in the room, which is open from 10am to 6pm on weekdays.
Only full-time working Singaporean citizens or permanent residents can use it. They can register for free membership at this website or at the CC's counter.