Be Realistic About Worklife Balance...


Talk about worklife balance.  In fact, there has been some behavourial changes from some industries that it is more apt these days to call it worklife integration. Employees or HR practitioners should go easy when dishing out philosophy in how employers should support this.

While there are distinct differences between business owners and pure employees, managing worklife for the former can be brutal.  And for individuals thinking of being an entrepreneur, putting in more than the conventional number of work hours daily and weekly might be a key differentiator among other traits, to stay being one. 

Just take a look at Silicon Valley. Logging in punishing hours in work can be found in start-ups. 

We know that a 'majority-work-and-no-play' working etiquette takes a toll on any person's well-being.  We hear this in public discourse, almost like a broken record in the past decade.  But it is true.

It also depends on the lifestyle an individual pursues and at specific stages of ones' life.  However, sometimes, the options are limited and less obvious as we cope with the new norm in our operating landscape.

Here is a snippet in what worklife as an entrepreneur/employee could be in technology companies from places such as Silicon Valley, Palo Alto...

  • Pumps in 50 to 90 hours per week (sometimes, there is no differentiation whether it is Saturday and Sunday)
  • 10 hours of meeting once a week, in one to two sittings
  • Long hours of meeting is preferred so as to avoid wasting time on a series of meetings (this is quite contrary to the school of thought where each meeting should be kept as short as possible)
  • No phones and laptops allowed during meetings (this is harder to do in a lengthy meeting context)
  • Working and serving in more than one organisation (it would be good to have two different work places within walking distance to save time)

Worklife issues can be an emotive subject, debate in this never ends.  Each side of the table has sound arguments about working long (or short) hours.  (Except in cases where employees just clocked long hours for the sake of showing their immediate managers as most seen during the 1980s and in major Japanese work culture)

For the majority of us in Singapore, let's be realistic, down to the ground. And to borrow a line from the book by ex-minister Professor S Jayakumar's book, 'Be At The Table or Be On The Menu' for other people's meals.

Facebook is rewarding employees to stay near its office. Why?  The noble cause is the greater social effort by Facebook to help minimise cost impact to communities living around or near its HQ office.  A more plausible or less 'BS' reason is to allow employees to reduce travelling time to their workplace and for Facebook to save on transportation cost.

Google designs their offices as comfortable as possible and offer 'sleep pods' to encourage employees to get sufficient shut-eye moments, finish project quicker.  Oh, and don't forget the free foods and haircut.

What has all these pampering got to do with worklife integration? 

Yes, you guess it right.  So employees can work longer.

We can refer to these as talent retention strategies, resource optimisation, better utilisation of human capital and many other euphemisms.

Please get back to work now and you could be as surrealistic when you clocked out later. :)