Singapore offers third best work-life balance in Asia

But China and India still better.

According to the 2013 Regus Work/Life Balance Index, Singapore improved to 128 points to place third overall in the Asia region, behind China (136) and India (139). It edged out previous third-placer Malaysia this year as the country dropped roughly 20 points to 121 in 2013.

The Regus Work/Life Balance Index, an annual survey of 26,000 professionals in 90 countries, calibrates a number of different factors to produce an index value that reflects overall levels of personal-work life harmony. Among other factors, independent researchers asked respondents whether, over the past year, they were spending more time away from home, whether they enjoyed work more, whether they were achieving more at work, and whether they had taken on additional work duties.

Regus noted though that while Singapore and Taiwan saw modest gains compared to last year's survey, mainland China saw a sharp 13-point drop from 149 index points last year to 136 now. While still one of the highest scores in the region, this also represented one of the steepest falls between surveys. Seventy-two per cent of mainland professionals reported that they spend more time working than they did last year – but 69 per cent also said they enjoyed work more now.

Meanwhile, work/life balance in Hong Kong has bucked the global trend in the latest Regus Work/Life Balance Index. While the global average slipped from 124 index points last year to 120 now, Hong Kong's score increased by five points, from 117 in 2012 to 122 now – the same score as Canada and significantly higher than most major European markets, as well as the U.S. (117 points) and Australia (116).

Local women, in particular, enjoyed a better work/life balance than the global average, with a score of 128. Local men fared less well, with a score of 118 – just below the global average for both genders. The biggest difference was the amount of time each group was able to spend at home and/or with family – 72 per cent of Hong Kong women said they were happy with the amount of time they had for this, compared to just 61 per cent of Hong Kong men.

"These results have to be good news for Hong Kong, since staff who are happy at work are both more productive and less likely to leave," said John Henderson, Chief Finance Officer, Regus Asia-Pacific. "When compared to markets like Australia or Europe, which have traditionally had more family-friendly labour market regulations, they may also come as a surprise. If anything, these findings demonstrate that work/life balance is not just about the number of hours people work, but also about how much people achieve during those hours and how much they enjoy what they do.

"Our latest work/life balance survey shows that Hong Kong is a great example of a hardworking, productive market where people nevertheless feel content with the amount of time and energy they have for their lives outside work."

“It is certainly encouraging to see that the Regus Work/Life Balance Index has improved for Hong Kong. Over the past seven years, Community Business’ State of Work-Life Balance in Hong Kong survey has shown minimal increase in people’s satisfaction over work-life balance and there’s clearly room for improvement,” said Robin Bishop, Director, Corporate Responsibility for Community Business, an NGO that advocates on CSR issues in Asia.

“We believe that more progress can be made if companies take the lead on creating a culture that promotes flexibility and encourages individual employees to take ownership for proactively managing their own work-life balance,” she added.  

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