Dispel belief that working late equates productivity

Office workers at Shenton Way on 2 March 2017.
Office workers at Shenton Way on 2 March 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

The concept of work-life balance has been around for a long time but has it been sufficiently embraced (Help all parents to achieve work-life balance, by Mr Victor Tan Thiam Siew, June 22)?

In my first job as a junior executive, I was amused to see my seniors making a beeline for the lifts soon after the lift doors closed behind the boss. I soon realised that it was taboo to leave before the boss, let one be labelled a clock-watcher.

An ex-colleague, a single woman, used to stay very late in the office, frequently sending e-mails past midnight to impress clients and bosses. Work was a form of escapism for her.

It was her prerogative to do so, except that she frowned upon staff who did not stay late, and staying late became a key performance indicator. This posed a dilemma for her staff, especially those with young children.

A friend's daughter, who used to work in a government ministry, experienced great emotional stress each time she had to request time off for prenatal check-ups because her boss frowned upon time-off requests.

These episodes illustrate that even when organisations adopt the concept of work-life balance, supervisors are key when it comes to implementation. To ensure that it happens, it has to be embedded in organisations' DNA. Otherwise, we risk paying mere lip service to the concept of work-life balance.

Today's high cost of living has rendered the concept of stay-home parents impractical.

Working late and leaving childcare primarily in the hands of domestic helpers is a poor option, and one that should be of a last resort.

Even for couples fortunate enough to have parents to help, there is a limit to what they can do.

Spending nurturing and bonding with children have to be the responsibility of parents.

In order to recognise the importance of work-life balance, and to embrace and implement it universally, we need a major paradigm shift away from the deeply entrenched belief that working late equates to good performance and productivity.

In fact, it should be deemed poor time management.

Success should not be defined by how much time one puts into work but rather how much one delivers. The quality of output should be what matters.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan