TL;DR – A shorter workweek is a welcomed move but for it to work in Singapore, there could be some potential challenges.
Over the past few days, the internet has been rife with discussions about a four-day work week. While the topic is not new, interest has been renewed recently after CNA published a commentary with a provocative header – “Why are we all working so hard if it isn’t making us richer?”
Fortunately, while some netizens were header-readers and dived into a depressing rhetoric about how tough it is to be rich, there were others who bothered to read the 800-word commentary based off the announcement of a four-day working week trial in Britain.
According to 4 Day Week Global, a key research partner in the trial, a four-day work week is a business improvement strategy centred on working smarter rather than longer. Amongst its various key benefits, the shorter work week is expected to shift business away from measuring hours workers to measuring results.
A shorter workweek is a welcomed move (who doesn’t like more personal time?) but for it to work in Singapore, there could be some potential challenges such as:
1. Company culture
The truth is, some employers still prefer facetime. In fact, some may point out that employers were quicker than ever to send out back-to-office advisories.
Besides, remember the horror stories about how distrustful employers tracked ‘away’ statuses on Microsoft Office or expected employees to reply on Slack instantaneously?
On a more positive note, perhaps we can still give some credit to employers as they have indeed come a long way from pre-pandemic periods. Work-from-office for one day or even two would have been unthinkable for most of us pre-pandemic.
Today, it does seem like the number of companies that enforce a strict 100% in-office policy for workers whose responsibilities can be fulfilled remotely, is a smaller group than before.
2. The Invisible Bell Curve
We might hate to admit it, but it is true that some of us might be guilty of being peer-pressured into working longer hours.
Unfortunately, the ‘kiasu’ DNA in some of us is just hard to shake off. The thing is – We know that work can be finished tomorrow, but not everyone can be promoted tomorrow. How else to prove yourself but to work even more, to get that extra edge?
3. Work never seems end (for some)
Let’s not talk about people working in operational roles, but perhaps someone who works in a law firm or even someone who works in the communications field. Sometimes, there is just way too much work and deadlines after deadlines that cannot be missed. In fact, a five-day work week might already be a struggle for them right now.
Sure, the company may go ahead and offer the option of a four-day work week, but can employees really afford to do that without compromising on their KPI? What might eventually happen is that there might be more disgruntled employees who feel that they are putting in even more unpaid overtime.
Although the four-day work week may still seem far from a reality for most of us, the silver lining is that cultures and mindsets do shift – with time.
What do you think?