Search

COMMENTARY
HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Singapore
Published: 11 Jun 13
1370 views


John Henderson

Why flexibility is important to work-life balance

BY JOHN HENDERSON

There's no dispute about the desirability of work-life balance. Without it, health and relationships suffer, stress levels soar, and work productivity falters. There's plenty of research to illustrate these ill-effects.

Less black and white is the issue of what work-life balance is. More than half of people say they have turned down a job because of concerns about its impact on work-life balance but each person may define work-life balance differently. One person's 'demanding but interesting job' is another person's 'relentless treadmill'.

Are long hours always detrimental? 
A good example of a grey area in work-life balance is working hours. Intuitively, one would say that work-life balance necessitates shorter hours, but there are stats that appear to confound this.

There's a good example in the latest Regus Work-Life Balance Index. In the Index the three major economies with the highest work-life balance are Mexico, India and Brazil, all of them significantly above the global average. Yet, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, employees in Mexico and Brazil are more likely to work very long hours than the OECD average (India is not included in the OECD study). Indeed, Mexico has some of the longest average working hours in the OECD. So there's more to work-life balance than not spending too long at the office.

Flexibility is key to well-being
One factor is control and people's freedom to choose how hard they work. The Regus Work-Life Balance Index shows that business owners appear to enjoy better work-life balance than their employees: 74% of business owners enjoy work more than they did a year ago, compared with 66% of employees. The difference is that business owners can make their own decisions about where, when and how much they work.

The logical extension is that employers should offer this choice to their staff - letting employees adapt their working hours to fit their lifestyles, and giving them flexibility over work locations in order to help them cut their commuting. As well as facilitating a more harmonious work-life balance, flexible working has a lower environmental impact.

Location flexibility matters as much as time flexibility
Offering a choice of work locations is especially helpful in metropolitan areas. With urban sprawl and worsening traffic congestion making commuting ever more time-consuming, allowing employees to work closer to home frees up hours each week - time they may use for work as well as non-work activities.

At Regus locations all over the world, we're seeing more and more usage by people who are working away from their main office locations for some or all of the week, and using our local business centres instead. In the process, Regus, the world's largest provider of flexible workplaces, is helping customers from a one-man-band to the world's largest company to be more productive, and we're giving them the flexibility - and freed-up time - to work their way.

Unfortunately, businesses still have a way to go. Just under half (49%) of participants in the Regus Work-Life Balance Index say employers are doing more to help reduce commuting. It's a sizeable percentage, and higher than the previous year, but, even so, more than half of respondents don't feel that companies are addressing the problem.

A tool for talent retention ... and more
During a time of economic stress in developing countries, it's tempting for employers to say "Not right now" on the issue of more flexibility. But when key personnel can be the difference between corporate success or struggle, it is crucial to let staff work in ways and places that suit them.

Without flexible working, key staff may leave - especially those in Generation Y who have less corporate loyalty. Moreover, with 72% of businesses globally saying that flexible working improves their productivity, the benefits could extend beyond talent retention.

So the message for businesses of all sizes is: don't delay in giving choice or control over working hours and locations. And whilst we're on the subject, there are a few other elements to consider as well:

• Make use of technology, and of providers that can help you access it. For example, Regus offers products such as video-communication and Businessworld that can help workers to cut commuting and business travel, and work where and when they want.

• Ensure that 24/7 mobile technology doesn't force work into people's personal lives. In research in Hong Kong, over four in ten workers had negative sentiments about the impact of technology on work-life balance. People complained they could never really switch off, even while asleep or on holiday.

• Consider device flexibility (for example, choice of phones and tablets, access to social media) as well as flexibility over working hours and locations. Two-fifths of Generation Y-ers have said this is so important to them, they would accept a lower-paid job for it.

• Learn from the young. The Regus Work-Life Balance Index found that Gen X (born 1965-80) and Gen Y workers (born 1980-) enjoy better work-life balance than Baby Boomers. This may be because they have already asked for and obtained flexible working. In a survey of recent graduates, 70% expected some flexible working in their jobs. Given that, in the Regus index, 81% of younger workers achieve more at work than they used to, compared with 69% of older workers, we could all learn from their example.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

John Henderson

John Henderson

John has been with Regus for 12 years. Initially beginning as Director for Best Practice in London, he soon moved to Australia to help set-up the Regus Asia-Pacific office. After almost five years of development, he moved with the Asia-Pacific office to Hong Kong and has been based there ever since.

Contact Information



Sign up for our newsletter

 

Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.

Click here to learn about advertising, content sponsorship, events & rountables, custom media solutions, whitepaper writing, sales leads or eDM opportunities with us.

To get a media kit and information on advertising or sponsoring click here.

Tags: flexibility, work-life balance, Regus Work-Life Balance Index

CO-WRITTEN ARTICLES & SPONSOR CONTENT ››

Global ethernet services market headed for $50 bn by 2015.
278 views

From humble beginnings to a 50,000 sqft property.
82 views

Find out why 2014 is the best time for you to enter Forex.
139 views

One-stop convention solution is here.
604 views

Its programmes ready graduates for real-world challenges.
131 views

Meet the man behind Singapore’s only automobile manufacturer.
365 views

Why is a holistic curriculum still important?
243 views

Fully furnished, hassle-free office experience.
160 views

Instead of burying their heads in books or articles on effective marketing techniques, advertising executives may want to sit back, relax and surf the web once in a while.
382 views

LATEST HR & EDUCATION JOBS »
PRINT ISSUE »

Subscribe Now
Trains, planes, automobiles and drones

130 views

As goes Hong Kong, so goes Singapore?

1105 views

Office property shows no signs of a slowdown

288 views

MOST READ EXCLUSIVES

Singapore’s 20 hotels with most expensive buffet lunches

Singapore’s 20 hotels with most expensive buffet lunches

What is for lunch?

by KRISANA GALLEZO
6 Jun 2014 | 176715 views
 

Singapore’s 20 most expensive hotel suites

Singapore’s 20 most expensive hotel suites

Guess which tops the list at S$20,000 a night.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
30 May 2014 | 148552 views

Singapore’s 18 MBA programmes under $30,000

Singapore’s 18 MBA programmes under $30,000

The cheapest is at SGD15,000.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
17 Jun 2014 | 106879 views
 

9 most expensive credit cards in Singapore

9 most expensive credit cards in Singapore

The most premium requires $150,000 annual income.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
21 Jul 2014 | 96292 views

Singapore’s 10 most expensive MBA Programmes

Singapore’s 10 most expensive MBA Programmes

The costliest is being offered at over $100,000.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
26 Jun 2014 | 79972 views
 

Singapore’s 10 hottest 40 and under restaurateurs

Singapore’s 10 hottest 40 and under restaurateurs

The list includes a restaurateur as young as 27.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
3 Jul 2014 | 38230 views

Singapore's 7 hot new restaurants in May

Singapore\'s 7 hot new restaurants in May

Have you tried them all?

by KRISANA GALLEZO
5 Jun 2014 | 22974 views
 

Singapore’s 8 hot new restaurants in June

Singapore’s 8 hot new restaurants in June

Have you dropped by to check them out?

by KRISANA GALLEZO
3 Jul 2014 | 22215 views

Korea’s Yoogane to open second outlet in Singapore

Korea’s Yoogane to open second outlet in Singapore

More outlets are soon to come.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
29 May 2014 | 16242 views
 

Pratt & Whitney Singapore office makes you feel like you’re in the outer space

Pratt & Whitney Singapore office makes you feel like you’re in the outer space

Take a sneak peek.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
25 Jun 2014 | 13329 views

Singapore's 8 hot new restaurants in July

Singapore\'s 8 hot new restaurants in July

More Singapore openings from famous restaurants in Asia.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
4 Aug 2014 | 11242 views
 

Towers Watson Singapore’s Spa Room allows staff to regenerate during lazy hours

Towers Watson Singapore’s Spa Room allows staff to regenerate during lazy hours

Also, check out awesome photos of redesigned meeting rooms and clubhouse.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
9 Jul 2014 | 10084 views

Taiwan’s Sufood hit Singapore

Taiwan’s Sufood hit Singapore

Eight more outlets coming in five years.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
12 Jun 2014 | 7287 views
 

Awesome workplace at 501: How's having a meeting while cuddling a teddy bear?

Awesome workplace at 501: How\'s having a meeting while cuddling a teddy bear?

Also check artistically designed in-house locations for video shoots.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
6 Aug 2014 | 5977 views

Check out HSBC’s high-tech flagship branch at Orchard Road

Check out HSBC’s high-tech flagship branch at Orchard Road

It’s digital hub is a star attraction.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
23 Jul 2014 | 4494 views
 

What 3 market leaders can tell you about price comparison sites in Singapore

What 3 market leaders can tell you about price comparison sites in Singapore

Financial price comparison sites face lack of consumer’s confidence.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
10 Jul 2014 | 4057 views

Find out how 3 young men at 20s founded a startup

Find out how 3 young men at 20s founded a startup

At 21, they built a job portal to help young people find their jobs.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
10 Jul 2014 | 3498 views
 

DBS added 1000 more staff in 2013

DBS added 1000 more staff in 2013

It topples UOB to become Singapore's second largest commercial bank.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
22 Jul 2014 | 1849 views

I bet you’ll cry after watching this: Singaporeans say ‘thank you’ to migrant workers

I bet you’ll cry after watching this: Singaporeans say ‘thank you’ to migrant workers

It has been viewed and shared nearly 425,000 times.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Jun 2014 | 1762 views
 

Singapore startup builds world’s first crowdpricing platform

Singapore startup builds world’s first crowdpricing platform

Here’s how you could end up paying less.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
29 May 2014 | 1760 views

Haji Lane welcomes a hippy motorcycle cafe

Haji Lane welcomes a hippy motorcycle cafe

It serves all-day brunches with motorcycle merchandise up for grabs.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
28 Jul 2014 | 1751 views
 

RIP Tiger Mandala: What carrier is next to die?

RIP Tiger Mandala: What carrier is next to die?

See why Singapore based carriers are the least advantaged.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
27 Jun 2014 | 1719 views

Singpost acquires Store House in Hong Kong for $12.2m

Singpost acquires Store House in Hong Kong for $12.2m

Here's how management compares HK's self storage market with Singapore's.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
11 Jul 2014 | 1487 views
 

Might as well say, what the :pluck?

Might as well say, what the :pluck?

Ann Siang Hill and Club Street welcome a new 45-seat dining enclave.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
26 Jun 2014 | 1467 views

The Assembly Ground will choose for you the coffee that best suits you

The Assembly Ground will choose for you  the coffee that best suits you

It’s an Australian concept brought to Singapore.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
18 Jul 2014 | 1392 views
 

KepLand in the spotlight: After Equity Plaza, what's next to sell?

KepLand in the spotlight: After Equity Plaza, what\'s next to sell?

Keppel Land determined to hold its stake in MBFC Tower 3.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
26 Jun 2014 | 1281 views

Take a tour at Potato Head Folk’s whimsical dining enclave

Take a tour at Potato Head Folk’s whimsical dining enclave

Murals on the walls inspired by 1930s children’s books are fascinating.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
10 Jul 2014 | 1271 views
 

See how 99.co plans to pacify exasperated house-hunters in Singapore

See how 99.co plans to pacify exasperated house-hunters in Singapore

Tired of bogus listings?

by CARMINA JARIEL
22 May 2014 | 1256 views

Experience in 3D how your neighborhood will look like if sea levels rise

Experience in 3D how your neighborhood will look like if sea levels rise

This site is hitting almost a million unique visitors already.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
13 Jun 2014 | 1096 views
 

Check out this WhatsApp like program for online chatting

Check out this WhatsApp like program for online chatting

This startup is on its final stages of closing $500,000 fund.

by KRISANA GALLEZO
19 Jun 2014 | 1063 views
close Don't Show Again

STAY INFORMED! Get our free weekly newsletter