Is it better to have flexible working hours or a shorter work week?

In a report published by mobile access technology firm Kisi, Kuala Lumpur was named the third most overworked city in the world. It is not the first time the city has made the list, having placed at number 4 in 2020 and number 8 in 2021.

In the study, 100 major cities were chosen that are well-known for attracting professionals and their families due to work opportunities and diverse lifestyles.

The work intensity of each city was then assessed based on criteria such as overworking, holiday allowance, parental leave, the ability of a job to be adapted to remote working scenarios, unemployment figures, and the percentage of people who have to work multiple jobs to survive.

Overworking can manifest in a variety of ways, including clinical health and mental conditions.

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There are steps that can be taken to curb this, and recently, discussions have also been held about the possibility of implementing a four-day work week in Malaysia.

The four-day work week is not a new concept. Many countries are implementing shorter working weeks (typically four days), with the UK being the most recent country to begin a six-month pilot trial earlier this month. This brings us back to today’s topic: Does a shorter working week benefit us?

People in Malaysia

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Soh Thian Lai says that while remote and hybrid working is becoming more accepted in Malaysia, most companies in Malaysia are still not ready to adopt a four-day work week.

A recent study by Qualtrics in Southeast Asia, cited in an article published on the Human Resources Online, also found that 60 percent of full-time employees in the region would prefer the flexibility of working whenever they want, over a shorter work week (37 percent). Malaysian workers specifically indicated the same preference with 62 percent opting for flexibility over a shorter work week (48 percent), although they would still be open to supporting their employer on a four-day work week.

There are also those who believe that a shorter work week would come with some trade-offs, such as having to work longer hours in order to squeeze five days’ worth of work into four.

We think it is not yet the right time to embark on this new work arrangement until a detailed study is conducted.

What do you think? 

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