Saturday, 19 November 2011

Office Space and Balance.



 According to a global survey by Regus, Malaysians are not only clocking more hours at work but bringing their office load back home as well.

I can already see many of you, especially my friends working in Accounting Department nodding your heads in agreement.

Regus is the world’s largest provider of workplace solutions so it obviously has the credentials to carry out the survey which involved some 12,000 business people in 85 countries.

The findings of interest to us – 47% of Malaysian workers take tasks home to finish at the end of the day for more than three times a week, compared to 43% globally; 15% regularly work for more than 11 hours a day, compared with 10% globally

According to William Willems, regional vice-president for Regus Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia, says the study found Malaysian has “a clear blurring” of the line separating work and home.

The long-term effects of such over-work could be damaging to both workers’ health and overall productivity. In his views, employee may drive themselves too hard and become disaffected, depressed and even physically ill.

Sounds rather ominous but I doubt if anyone is going to lobby the Government for policy changes so that people don’t work so hard.

After all, many are fighting asking the retirement age in the private sector raise to 60, the same as that in the Government sector.

The Regus report should be seen in the perspective of an Australian and prove how different country work culture view work because of different circumstances.

Work Life Balance is very important to Australian; they believe that achieving a balance between work and family responsibilities has benefits for the whole community. That why if you ever travel to Australia you will notice that business closed by 6.00 p.m. so they can spent more time with family.

In 1990 International Labour organisation (ILO) Convention on Workers with Family Responsibilities, Australia government has pledge a commitment to providing a climate in which workers with family responsibilities have the right to work without discrimination and with consideration given to their family responsibilities in the workplace.

I still cannot resist telling my Australian friends that I started on a salary of RM1800 and had to work, for many years, on the graveyard shift in Malaysia. Although I feel they need to experience pain before pleasure and appreciate the value of hard work, it often does not come across like that from their perspective.

I also work from home.  When I went back to my hometown especially on Raya, I took my work with me. In this age of the Blackberry and Internet, it is not impossible to work from one’s home. I am fully using the whole plethora of IT tools, including SMS, email and video chat. If my manager desires a report, I could easily email the files to any printer in the world.

Advances in technology, which allow the workforce to stay connected without being together physically, may, in some industries, make even the standard 9 to 5 routine in the office outdated.

Currently, I am working as an Accountant in an Australian multinational that reminded me that no one is allowed to work beyond office hours unless a written request is submitted. It is not more than 12hours per day.

Office hours were very strict. If you wanted to stay back after 5pm, you had to make a request in writing. No one ever does that because in the management’s eyes, anyone who had to stay back is either not doing his work well or plain inefficient.

When my Australian’s mate asked me why I worked long hours and bring home my works, I laughed and simply said that I am so use to Malaysian work style.

But in Malaysia, we head to work before the sun rises and reach home after the sun sets. Surely, that cannot do any good to the quality of life index, no matter how much one is paid.

Willems said businesses that enabled employees to work from locations closer to home and manage their time more independently could offset the stress of a poor work-life balance.

I am glad that we are beginning to see many enlightened bosses who value a proper work-life balance for their workers but they are still in the minority.

Recently, Malaysian government conducted a test pilot for employee to work from home for three months .Starting that the work-from-home concept is workable if employees have the integrity to do the work at home as well as it would have been done in the office.

Yet, in reality, working from home is not something embraced by most employers. Somehow, there is the fear that employees cannot be trusted if they are not physically around.

The result is we end up with many employees, not necessarily the most productive ones, hanging around the office way after official working hours, when they could be at home enjoying family time.

It is about integrity, the point is that employers must start to trust their employees more and not just let those who will shirk or shortchange them determine the policy of the company.

The work-from-home concept should be encouraged in both the public and private sectors.

Again to my fellow accountant in Malaysia who stuck at work between 8pm and 3am in lieu of month-end – who’ve had to forcibly forego dinner, quality time with their family and friends, a favorite TV show, just so those books are closed to perfection- That is our life and our curse.

Note:-  I am still a "Malaysian" Accountant working in Australia environment

No comments:

Post a Comment