It's tried and tested to enhance work-life balance
Will a four-day work week fly in Singapore? In a recent parliamentary session, member of parliament (MP) Louis Chia urged companies to consider implementing the arrangement and enhance work-life balance. He said that the five-day work week has “consumed our daily lives”. With the successful shift to remote and flexible working, he proposed that companies move to a permanent shorter work week to sustain high productivity levels and allow workers to lead fuller lives outside of their jobs.
He highlighted successful trials from across the world to make his case. Microsoft Japan, for one, was one of the few organisations in Asia to showcase a successful pilot for shorter work weeks back in 2019. A report on the summer trial showed a 40% jump in employee productivity, compared with the same period the year before. Almost all employees also cited feeling satisfied at home and work with the shorter week.
Iceland had also declared “overwhelming success” for a recent trial. Their research produced similar results to Microsoft’s internal study – shorter weeks helped boost productivity and improvement in workers’ well-being. “This study shows that the world’s largest-ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success,” said Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy. “It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks – and lessons can be learned from other governments.”
Read more: New report on a four-day work week
However, MP Chua acknowledged that it may not be applicable to all job roles. “I am conscious of the fact that not every employee has the privilege to complete their tasks in a four-day work week,” he said. “Those who deal with external parties, especially, are subjected to the whims and fancy of their clients’ schedule.”
Chua believes that the flexible arrangement can allow employees to not only attend to personal or family care, but also self-improvement and professional development opportunities. “If we adopt a shorter work week with the right mindset, the benefits of better mental health, productivity and agency felt on the individual level will translate to society-wide benefits as well,” he said.
Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng responded that employers who wish to pilot a four-day work week can do so as there are “no legal impediments" to implementing it, reported Today.