Singapore: Is Work Life Balance Possible?

Technology is great, that is undeniable. It has revolutionized the way we talk and communicate, covering every aspect of our lives, including work. Everyone is reachable via their mobile phones… too reachable, in fact. Helicopter parents hover over their children’s soldiers digitally, calling every hour or so, demanding to know their whereabouts. A call at 3am is either an inconsiderate friend, a fellow night owl, or an emergency. But a call from work? After work hours? That is just tiresome, but also a reality that many of us in the developed world have learned to grudgingly accept.

Which is why everyone is both envious and surprised whenever they find out about France’s “right to disconnect” law, a law that ensures an employee’s rights to not be contacted for work-related issues after work hours. This law draws a hard boundary between work hours and personal hours, a boundary that is even further eroded during pandemic times, where the days and hours just seemingly blend together. For Singaporeans, the erosion of this boundary sours whatever benefits working from home may offer.

As of late, Tripartite partners Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) have come up with several measures to boost work-life harmony within Singapore’s workplace culture. 

Employers now have access to a website with several resources to aid them carry out appropriate measures, as well as an online tool to identify workplace stressors. There is also funding from various programs available for companies wishing to do so.

However,  these moves do not seem to be quite enough, for an imbalance between work life and personal time goes beyond stressors in company culture. For instance, in order to save costs, an employee may be unfairly saddled with more work than they can handle, as compared to hiring yet another person. Of course, there are also issues such as annoying coworkers who do not respect personal space, or a clash in personalities in the office. Still, those issues could be forgotten as soon as one is out of the office, but what if one keeps continuing because of the heavy workload? Burnout and fatigue is knocking on the door.

Which is why companies should consider alternative solutions for their hiring needs. It is understandable that pockets for certain industries are tight during this pandemic, and that work from home makes it too easy to disproportionately distribute workload, but that does not mean things could not be better. What if,  by expanding the mind overseas to be open to wilder possibilities, everyone gets a chance at better work-life balance?

For companies in Singapore, offshoring tech hiring needs to Malaysia may be a win-win solution both for the wallet and the poor employees shouldering such heavy workloads. With lesser work to do, the employee may finally make it out of the office by sunset, hence improving work-life balance. With improved work-life balance comes benefits which include increased overall productivity, greater retention in job, and increased shareholder values too. All in all, perhaps offshoring may be an underrated solution.