SINGAPORE - Working from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic is common practice, but employees are not making enough time to join their families for dinner, opting to eat at their work desk instead.
As part of efforts to get Singaporeans to forge stronger bonds with their families, employers were on Friday (Nov 19) encouraged to allow their staff to leave work at 5pm to have a meal with their families.
More than 600 companies supported the Eat With Your Family Day, which also saw about 150 families participating in a virtual event.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, who attended the event, said: "Eat With Your Family Day is an important reminder to make time for our families.
"While many of us have been working from home, a lot of that time is spent on virtual meetings or e-mails.
"We should make a concerted effort to disconnect from work at regular intervals and enjoy precious moments with our loved ones."
The initiative was launched in 2003 by the Centre for Fathering to encourage companies to let their employees leave work at 5pm on the last Friday of each school term to have family dinners.
Centre for Fathering chief executive Bryan Tan said the event is a reminder to parents to put aside their work and devices, and connect with their children during meals.
"During the Covid-19 pandemic, with many people working from home, employees often grapple with the blurred boundaries of work and life, at times working beyond normal working hours," added Mr Tan.
Mr Edmond Wong was one of many who got off work early on Friday to eat with his wife and three children.
The 38-year-old director of business development for Nonya rice dumpling company Kim Choo Kueh Chang has participated in the event since 2018.
Mr Wong and his family also attended the virtual event organised by the Centre for Fathering, Mums for Life and Dads for Life, in partnership with Families for Life.
The event is also in support of Made for Families, an initiative by the National Population and Talent Division.
The virtual session saw families participating in bonding games and sharing sessions about what eating together as a family means to them.
All families received $50 worth of foodpanda credits to purchase a meal.
Michelman Asia-Pacific has been supporting Eat With Your Family Day since 2017.
Ms Sharon Ng, its director of human resources, said the initiative has helped to improve well-being and morale among employees.
Noting the impact on companies, Ms Indranee said: "Family-centric companies are much more likely to have a happier and more productive workforce, find it easier to recruit and retain, and have a positive work culture."