Study: Mobile comms improve work-life balance

Some 90 percent of Singaporeans say ability to work outside, but in constant contact with, the office creates better balance between work and social life.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

While it is apparent that personal communications technologies such as smartphones and laptops, can help raise productivity of workers in Singapore, these tools are also helping to improve their work-life balance, a recent study reveals.

Conducted by workforce management consultancy Kelly Services, the survey found that 90 percent of Singapore respondents said the ability to work outside--and yet remain in constant contact with--the office, is a positive personal development. This was apparent despite the fact that over a third of them were working longer hours, the study found.

These respondents were part of a global index, conducted earlier this year, which surveyed nearly 100,000 people in 34 countries. More than 3,000 of the respondents were based in Singapore.

While more Singaporeans recognized the productivity benefits of mobile communications than the survey's worldwide average of 84 percent, the Singapore figure was lower than other Asian markets including China at 93 percent, India's 92 percent and Indonesia's 97 percent. It was, however, higher than Western nations such as the United States at 73 percent, the United Kingdom's 82 percent and Germany's 81 percent.

Dhirendra Shantilal, Kelly's Asia-Pacific senior vice president, said the proliferation of mobile devices has helped create a much more flexible and adaptable workforce.

"Many employees now have the capacity to work from home or away from the office at any hour of the day, and this is proving to be positive for productivity and work-life balance," Shantilal said in the report. "Even though some are working longer hours, this is largely offset by the greater freedom and flexibility of the virtual workplace."

Some 54 percent of Singaporeans were satisfied with their work-life balance, which was close to the global average of 55 percent. However, Singaporeans' work-life satisfaction ranked lower than their Western counterparts, such as the United States at 69 percent, the United Kingdom's 56 percent and Germany's 58 percent.

Singaporeans were also less satisfied than other Asians, including the 64 percent in India, 58 percent in China, 68 per cent in Indonesia, and 57 percent in Malaysia.

In addition, Singapore's Gen Y respondents, aged between 18 and 29, placed greater importance on achieving better balance between work and social life than older respondents. About 71 percent of Gen Ys viewed it extremely important to have a good work-life balance, compared to 64 percent of Gen X workers, aged 30 to 47, and 59 percent of Baby Boomers, aged 48 to 65.

Across the age groups, fewer Gen Y respondents were happy with their current work-life balance than their seniors. About 51 percent of Gen Y respondents were satisfied with the work-life balance in their current jobs, compared to 59 percent of Gen X and 60 percent of Baby Boomers.

Shantilal advised employers keen to attract and retain Gen Y talent that it is important to note attitudes and perceptions of Gen Y employees toward work-life balance.

"The line between work and personal life is blurring as employees are integrating information technology into their lives at many levels," he said. "Employers who use technology to enhance working arrangements are also likely to reap productivity benefits and to be seen as employers of choice."

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