Singaporeans are working longer hours, and this is becoming an issue in light of changing demographics. Spending more time at work means less personal time, and time spent with family members becomes compromised. Less time is spent caring for ageing parents, and young working professionals are also feeling the strain of juggling between limited financial resources and starting their own families.

According to the latest global statistics, Singapore residents in 2015 spent 45.6 hours at work per week – the second longest work week in developed countries, just behind Hong Kong’s 50.1 hours.

However, according to Ministry of Manpower, the number of hours worked has been on a decline. It was attributed to the prevalence of the gig economy, and productivity gains through technological advancements. Netizens responded to this MOM report with disbelief, citing having to work longer hours due to attending to work calls and emails with the aid of technological devices.

Read the full article on Channel NewsAsia: The Big Read: Breaking Singapore’s workaholic culture


Although long working hours may not necessarily mean higher productivity, some companies or industries have created an unhealthy work culture of long office hours. Some types of work inevitably require longer hours to complete, for example, going through legal documents, and meeting multiple client deadlines. For most jobs, long hours are unnecessary and employees should be allowed to end work on time and attend to personal needs instead.

As society progresses into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, productive work is highly dependent on mental capacity to evaluate insights from big data and the ability to sieve through depths of information. The mind is therefore an important asset which has to be kept healthy with a balanced life. Constantly pushing the mental and physical limits of employees to work long hours may lead to stress and burnout, affecting future productivity and the health of the individual.

For a healthier and more engaged workforce, the mentality of associating long working hours with productivity needs to be changed.   

Questions for further personal evaluation:

  1. Why do you think people started to spend long hours at work?
  2. How does Singapore’s work culture differ from other countries?

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ‘infringements’: violation
  2. ‘encroach’: intrude on
  3. ‘notoriously’: used to emphasize that a quality or fact, typically a bad one, is well known

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