A healthier work-life balance benefits all
- Pandemic restrictions promoted more employers to embrace working from home and many multinationals have introduced a shorter working week or reduced working hours. And it is not just employees that reap the rewards – business shares in the enhanced performance of a happier and healthier workforce
Sociologists and health and wellness experts have long extolled the mental and physical benefits of work-life balance – or leaving enough time for non-work-related activity, from exercise to leisure to culture to family life. Technology should have helped achieve a better balance. But too often it became a one-way street in the boss’ favour.
Pandemic restrictions made a difference, prompting employers to abandon convention and embrace working from home as opposed to employees taking work home and/or being on call after a day at work. The world has not caved in as a result. In that respect Covid-19 has helped reshape the workplace landscape and culture forever.
Evidence is to be found in the trial by Hong Kong conglomerate New World Group (NWD) of a four-and-a-half day work week for 4,000 of its 30,000 employees including one day a week working from home. “Summer Fridays” are to be half days. NWD is the first major developer to cut working hours without cutting wages. The group says the programme is to “help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance and improve their physical and mental health”. The measures are being introduced at the group’s flagship property arm New World Development and business units K11 and NWS. The trial will be assessed in September. We trust bosses and workers will enter into the spirit of it.
Technology has given bosses access to staff 24/7. Employees need to get their life back in terms of more flexibility of working location and hours where possible.
In recent years, many large multinationals have introduced a shorter working week or reduced working hours to help their employees achieve a healthy work-life balance. This follows repeated surveys here and abroad showing an increasing number of men and women nominating a better balance as their top priority.
In the United Kingdom, scores of small and medium-sized companies began a four-day work week pilot programme in June. It would be good to see more Hong Kong firms build on their work-from-home pandemic experiences with similar trials.
After all, business shares in the benefits of enhanced performance by a happy, healthy workforce.