How to achieve a productive 4 day work week in Singapore

NewsJanuary 05, 2022 16:21


Written by: Clare Chong

Member of Parliament Mr. Louis Chua proposed the idea of having a 4 day work week in Singapore some time back in July last year, suggesting that the current 5 day work week “has gone beyond its intended definition and consumed our daily lives” and maybe one of the reasons “for our low birth rates”. Therefore, piloting a 4 day work week trial may be advantageous with “benefits of better mental health”, “increases productivity” and allow employees to become “fuller people outside of their jobs”. So, how feasible is this 4 day work week and how do we go about practising it here in Singapore?

Is remote working always productive?

A recent report from Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics reviewed data from more than 10,000 skilled workers at an Asian firm that shifted all their staff to remote working since March 2020. Total work hours increased by about 30 percent in the 17 months before and during remote working, inclusive of an 18 percent increase in overtime hours. Productivity fell by about 20 percent as employees spent too much time in meetings, coordinating activities and were constantly interrupted from their work, signaling a loss of control. In a separate Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace survey, employees’ daily stress hit a record high in 2020 with 43 percent stating that they experienced “ a lot” of stress within the day.

Ways to reclaim control with a 4 day work week

If your company is open to a 4 day work week, you would need to also set expectations to make your 4 day week a productive one. Create out-of-office alerts on your emails and work chats to create boundaries to reclaim your right to be uncontactable. Regularly taking the same day off also reinforces the message to your co-workers and business contacts that you are off the grid on that particular day. You may also consider ending work later before your off-day and clear your work and communications so you can properly enjoy your 3 rest days.

When it comes to your sleep and proper rest,you should also be disciplined about it. Sleep and wake up at specific times, schedule exercise and hobbies into your week as well. Of course, if your company encourages a flexible schedule where you could choose to take any day of the week off or enjoy unlimited leave, that would be best.

What are your thoughts about a 4 day work week in Singapore? What do you think can incentivise companies to be more flexible about leave taking for their employees?

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