“Work-life balance” is a phrase we throw around quite often, but is it actually possible? Three Singaporean women with vastly different jobs share what their average work week is like.
In this day and age when we look at our screens more than anything else, leaving the office at 6pm doesn’t necessarily mean you’re leaving your work there too. Getting a text message from the boss at 10pm is no longer a big deal, and waking up to angry e-mails from clients is a scenario familiar to many.
But what’s alarming is the urge to drop everything and deal with them, even outside of work hours. According to the Working Hours Survey done by services recruiter Morgan McKinley in 2016, about two-thirds of respondents said they feel obliged to work longer than their contracted hours. What’s more, 12 percent of professionals said they worked more than 46 hours, when the legal limit set by the Ministry of Manpower is 44 hours.
That said, there are some companies that have been dishing out changes to improve their employees’ work-life balance. For example, OCBC Bank allows their employees to leave work an hour early on Fridays and 3E Accounting Firm offers flexible reporting times – staff members can turn up at any time between 8am to 10am, as long as they complete nine hours of work.
Even so, it’s hard to determine Singapore’s actual work-life situation. To get a sense of what it’s like from a common woman’s point of view, we asked three young women to record a week in their life.
Crystal Liu 31, Senior Internal Auditor at Franke
"This week, I’ll be on a work trip to Shunde, China. I think my work-life balance will be quite good, but I will spend a lot of time resting. Rest is very important when travelling for work!”
with my grandma!
She’s 90 this year,
and I try to eat
dinner with her at her
place whenever I can.
Having dinner at a restaurant call called Wei Ke Dao in Shunde.
I really like their tea cups; too bad I can’t bring them home.
Drinks after work on Friday.
It’s been a really long week,
and a drink coupled with good
conversations help me relax.
Work travel essentials – local snacks! These were prepared by my colleagues in Shunde.
Went for a manicure
after dinner on my
first day in Shunde!
“Considering how much sleep I got over the week, I’d say my work-life balance is pretty great. I wish I spent more time exercising, but that’s always hard when travelling.
Nicolette Soh 26, Marketing and Events Executive at Bang Bang and Privé Clarke Quay
I don’t think work-life balance is a problem for me as I make an effort every day to engage in activities that help me relax. I started going to the gym regularly five years ago and I changed my lifestyle and diet to improve my health and fitness.”
Selfie with Mama Soh after
finishing our gym class.
We managed to do a
3.5-minute plank after class!
Selfie with James after a dinner! We
have very different schedules, but try
hard to make time for each other.
dinner. I try
carbs at night
I would eat
Bang Bang and
into Ted, the
On-site at Privé Clarke Quay to check
on our Cinco de Mayo event! I love
playing with the props and costumes
we get for events.
I deal with the planning of events,
sourcing of props and costumes, and
execution of events for Bang Bang
and Privé Clarke Quay. So I oversee
the events from start to finish!
“Work does eat into my personal time, but when I’m on-site to monitor events, it’s 50 percent work and 50 percent play. All in all, I still believe I have a good work-life balance."
Angeline Yeo 25, Co-founder of Yoga+
"My friends and family say I’m a workaholic, and I guess that’s true! I’m not proud of it, though, and I think it’s important to strike a balance between work and connecting with your friends and loved ones.”
Angeline was in for Jakarta a vacay three for days!
On our flight back
Brunch with my fiancé.
“My work day is usually very packed, but I’m used to it. In terms of work-life balance, I don’t think I have been faring well, but if I’m feeling pretty happy and satisfied, I think that’s what’s most important."
The Final Verdict
It’s interesting to see how Crystal, Nicolette and Angeline and all seem to blur the lines between work and play.
For Crystal, being able to travel often for work is a dream come true. “Travelling almost every month can be tiring, but exploring a country I’ve never been to makes it all worth it... Being with my family and resting at home is my priority now, especially because I travel so often.”
As a marketing executive at two nightclubs, Nicolette manages to let fun intersect with work. When asked if hitting Bang Bang with her friends feels like work, she said, “Considering how smashed I [can get], I would say no.”
Similarly, Angeline finds fulfillment in what she does, even if that mean she’s working a lot of the time. Despite being on vacation for close to half the week, she ended up working more hours than Nicolette and Crystal! While this could partly be due to the two-day yoga training workshop the studio was conducting, it’s clear she doesn’t feel like her work prevents her from achieving what she wants in life.
While these women have different jobs and takes on life, they all find joy in their work. Perhaps the key to being content with your work-life balance is to find a way to make work less about pain, and more about play.
Images 123RF.com, Nicolette Soh, Crystal Liu, Angeline Yeo, Bang Bang Text Liu Kai Ying.