Mountaintop marriage proposal made possible by firm's flexible work arrangements

GorillaSpace marketing head Ng E-Fei decided to join the firm for a variety of reasons, one of which was its good work-life schemes.
GorillaSpace marketing head Ng E-Fei decided to join the firm for a variety of reasons, one of which was its good work-life schemes.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

He wanted to propose to his girlfriend on top of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.

While this may chew up a big chunk of annual leave for most full-time employees, marketing head Ng E-Fei's dream became reality due to his employer's flexible work arrangements. The 34-year-old could schedule work commitments around his training climbs in Johor, medical appointments and even the search for the perfect engagement ring.

His employer, GorillaSpace, offers a variety of work-life programmes for its 15 employees, including unlimited annual leave and working from home.

Mr Ng said: "I decided to join GorillaSpace for a combination of factors, one of which was its good work-life programmes."

Before that, work-life balance had eluded him. He ran his own start-up, which he left in 2015.

He then worked in marketing for a multinational corporation before quitting last year after a serious health scare. He cited years of work stress as a factor.

"During my entrepreneur days, it was a lot worse because I drove myself very, very hard. As a start-up entrepreneur, you're pretty much on the job 24/7," he said.

Now, Mr Ng says work-life balance is one of his core values.

GorillaSpace, a marketplace that helps businesses find work spaces, assesses staff on performance output instead of effort put in or physical time spent in the office.

Co-founder and chief operating officer Ginny Tham Eckblad said work-life initiatives are an obvious component of workforce planning and should be made available to all employees at all life stages.

Mr Ng said: "I like our Friday company lunches and regular outings. It's a nice time to bond as a company, as a team. It's also nice that the company sponsors them."

After months of preparation and with his team backing him up, Mr Ng finally proposed to his girlfriend in April on Mount Kinabalu.

"One of my colleagues even... helped me with a professional photo shoot," he said. And the best part? His girlfriend said yes.

Christie Chiu

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2019, with the headline 'Mountaintop marriage proposal made possible by firm's flexible work arrangements'. Print Edition | Subscribe