"PC off" rule a boost for work-life balance

by Iain Hopkins18 Feb 2013

More companies are abandoning the workaholic culture that has been synonymous with Asian workplaces for the past few decades.

In the past, working overtime and having mandatory late-night drinking sessions with management or clients have been the norm in Asia. However, more firms are becoming aware of the fruitlessness of such endeavours, and steps are being actively taken to turn things around.

The Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), the fourth largest bank by assets, came up with the unheard-of policy of shutting down all office computers at 7:00 pm to ensure staff went home.

In a report by AFP, at 6.30pm, managers would start calling out to their staff to wrap things up and go home. Those wanting to work after 7:00 pm need special permission from their supervisors, whose performance is evaluated on not only how much revenue they earn but also how early their subordinates go home.

The "PC off" rule turned out to be a success, and 35 banks and other financial firms recently agreed to embrace the "PC off" rule by the end of 2013.

"Some say fewer work hours means less profits, but I don't believe that is the case anymore," Sung Nak-Jo, spokesman for the Korean Financial Industry Union, was quoted as saying. "We used to be working long hours in a constantly exhausted and unfocused state... Now is the time to do something to achieve more sustainable, effective and humane growth.”

An average South Korean worker clocks 44.6 hours a week, the second highest after Turkey in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, despite such long hours, South Korea only ranked 28th in terms of productivity.

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