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A Social Worker’s Thoughts on Productivity and WFH

Are you an aspiring social worker looking for insights into the social sector before locking in your commitment? Are you a seasoned social worker who’s searching for renewed drive to keep going? You’ve clicked on the right article!

Earlier this week, we had an opportunity to sit down — virtually — with John Lim, the founder of to pick his brain about the issue of productivity and WFH. To John that comes down to remembering why you started, finding a system to stay productive, and having something to look forward to. While we can’t say that his views are representative of the social sector as a whole, his unique perspectives bring to light many hidden aspects of social work, and are honestly inspiring. Here are his tips.

Motivation: The Beginning of It All

Before we began, we asked John what sparked his interest to go into social work. For those of you who’ve been in the sector for a while, what started your journey? To march forward with conviction, it’s important to hold onto these powerful memories.

John started with an attachment at a homeless hostel. Through this experience, he empowered the homeless to change for the better and for themselves. The ability to leave a life-changing impact on someone’s life convinced him that social work would be a fulfilling career. Also, as he progresses in his career, the zeal of the beneficiaries to get better reminds him of the impact that he is making everyday, and keeps him going.

“Being a social worker also implies a degree of privilege, in that I tend to become part of the beneficiaries’ life journeys as they trust me with their struggles. There are not many jobs that allow you to do this.” — John Lim


Source: HBR

For any career, to keep yourself going, it is critical that you have a system that allows you to focus on what matters most. In social work, John shared that administrative tasks continue to occupy a huge chunk of his time. While the government has come up with a centralised case management system, such as Social Service Net (SSNet), to streamline the processes for social workers, he’s still exploring other technologies that can help him with admin tasks. Perhaps you should take some time to discover new productivity tools too.

“While we strive for efficiency in our lives, we also have to remember that social work is centred around humans and not everything can be optimised,” John advised. “It takes time, a lot of time in some cases, for change to happen and the light to appear at the end of the tunnel. In social work and perhaps in many other areas, things can’t be rushed just for the sake of productivity.”

It might also be interesting to learn how John handles productivity during COVID-19. Given that many organisations are implementing a work-from-home (WFH) policy, social workers have to find new ways to engage with clients. To John, WFH has helped him become more productive. At home, he can focus better on his clients and paperwork as workplace distractions are eliminated. Maybe we should question the traditional ways of interacting with clients?

Hope for the Future

Lastly, we all need something to look forward to. As an enterprising individual, on top of serving his clients, John also has a calling to empower other social workers to reach their full potential, and brings together a community of social workers at his project website (Save the Social Worker), so that everyone can learn from each other and discuss important issues such as self-care, financial health, and even new methodologies from academia.

We hope John’s viewpoints have given some insights on the impact of technology and productivity in the social services sector. More importantly, we can never overstate the importance of social work in our society, especially in uncertain times like now, but we’re all hopeful for the future!

"I was very glad with Swapie's service, ensuring that my client got their milk powder within a week! The whole process was very smooth and fuss-free! I would definitely recommend Swapie's service for other social workers looking to find Consistent and convenient help for their clients." — John Lim, Social Worker at FSC

Top image source: Leverage Edu