Does flexible working hinder productivity?

by Lucy Hook21 Jul 2016
Singapore’s work-life balance is improving, according to a survey from recruiter Morgan McKinley, with flexible working on the rise – and yet two-thirds of nearly 1,000 respondents said that they felt obliged to work longer than their contracted hours.
 
HRD spoke to Andrew Evans, managing director of Morgan McKinley Singapore, to find out what progress Singapore has made in the availability of flexible working, and the areas in which HR still needs to work to improve employees’ work-life balance.
 
“If you look back over the last few years, I think it’s fair to say that progress has been made,” Evans said.
 
“There is definitely more of an expectation and understanding that work-life balance is important, and I think that more and more employers are starting to listen to this point and work by it.”
 
A surprising result of the Working Hours Survey – and good news for Singapore employers – is that 80% of those who said they worked beyond their contracted hours felt more productive during this time, despite 90% saying that they were not paid overtime for these hours.
 
In a globalised and increasingly connected world, where employees are often able to work from mobiles, laptops and tablets, the ability to be productive outside of normal hours has greatly increased, meaning employees are more able to pick and choose when they get their work done.
 
“We see a lot of individuals who perhaps would often come into the office late but then work late, or come into the office early and leave early because there’s flexibility to do that,” Evans said.
 
In just a short space of time, an increasing number of employers from a range of backgrounds have come around to the idea of flexible working, Evans told HRD: “Not that many years ago, it would seem to be not the ‘done thing’ by employers to offer flexible working solutions to their staff, whereas more and more clients of ours certainly are starting to do that – whether they be large international banks or small SMEs.”
 
What Morgan McKinley is starting to see from its clients, he said, is that as long as the employee is being productive and achieving results, the employer minds less how or where the work is done.
 
Despite this, there are still a number of employers who have been slower on the uptake of offering flexible working, according to Evans.
 
“While some flexibility by some clients that we see has made a difference, a lot of clients still don’t necessarily offer huge or even any flexible solutions for their staff. We want to see more of it.”

Related stories:

Are Singapore firms adapting to flexi-working?

How HR can break Singapore's work-centric culture

Do staff actually want longer hours?

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