Letter of the week #1 Change in attitudes needed to achieve work-life balance

Office workers crossing the junction of McCallum Street and Cecil Street.
Office workers crossing the junction of McCallum Street and Cecil Street.PHOTO: ST FILE

The lack of work-life balance is not an issue unique to Singapore. However, according to a recent study, Singapore is among the most overworked countries, having been ranked 32 out of 40 countries for work-life balance (S'pore ranks 32 out of 40 in index on work-life balance, Aug 8).

With the recent announcement about the Citizens' Panel on Work-Life Harmony, Singapore may be one step closer to finding solutions to achieve the right balance between managing work and family commitments (Applications open for Citizens' Panel on work-life balance, July 16).

It is thus opportune and critical to look at ways to boost greater balance in this daily tug of war.

Besides looking at building up systems to strike a balance, it is important to also consider the softer aspects of how individuals find that balance in life, such as the ability to manage time and people.

In conceiving work-life balance initiatives, consider also an individual's mindset about being away from work.

One good example of this is with flexible work arrangement. With more technology-enabled flexible work arrangements being provided, it is easier to be away from work.

However, technology is a double-edged sword here.

As easy as it is to switch off from work, it is also a cinch to get back into work no matter where you are with a press of a button.

In order to truly wean off work after hours, it is imperative to set personal boundaries to reinforce the balance.

In fortifying proper work-life attitudes, it helps if superiors and colleagues are more acutely aware and respectful of these boundaries.

Just as it takes two hands to clap, individuals will not be able to get off work if others are unable to.

For Singapore to truly enjoy work-life harmony, greater national resolve is needed for all levels of society to sync and work hard in achieving these goals.

Increasing productivity to reduce the number of working hours clocked will further support achieving work-life harmony in Singapore.

One way organisations could promote both proper work-life attitude and productivity at work is to implement "Stop Work" time zones. This means that work cannot be done after a certain time, depending on the day of the week.

Employees would then be encouraged to step up their pace in order to step out on time.

Ong Yao Min