AGREE with Professor Kishore Mahbubani that increasing productivity is a problem ("Want to be more productive? Have fun at work"; last Saturday).
However, I am not sure productivity gains made while having fun working in an air-conditioned office is comparable to doing so while working in a hot factory with a low salary.
Productivity gains depend largely on the nature of work and type of industry. For example, bus drivers on the roads of New York can hardly be more productive than bus drivers in Singapore.
In my business, which involved industrial engineering, automatic production lines and manufacturing machine tools, I found it more difficult to quantify productivity gains in administrative work, while it was easier on the floor.
The only way to reduce manpower need and boost quantifiable output was to use technology, innovative ideas and sophisticated machinery.
Productivity gains should be measured under stable conditions within the same industry without variable factors.
Prof Mahbubani cited the happiness and higher productivity of waiters and waitresses in New York, compared with the ones here. However, those in the US are paid better and work shorter hours than those here.
If workers in Singapore had similar working environments and incomes as their counterparts in the United States, I am sure they would be more productive and have fun at work.
Paul Chan Poh Hoi