Work first, play later

PHOTO: Work first, play later

SINGAPORE - In the last 3 years, this 28-year-old investment banker sleeps on average of 4 hours a day and has not gone on a long holiday.

He simply has no time.

"I currently work around 90 hours a week," says Samuel Lee. "That is around 16 - 17 hours a day, half of that on weekends."

"We have live projects, we have to respond whenever there are hiccups and issues that need to be addressed. It's non-stop."

PM Lee Hsien Loong pointed out that there could be trade-offs if Singaporeans want to work less.

But Samuel Lee begs to differ. It's not a zero sum game.

"He's associating an increase in work-life balance with a reduction in the number of hours worked, which reduces output, reduces your growth, right?

"Simplistically speaking, it makes sense but there can be exceptions. For example, if there is more work-life balance, people are more energised. When they go back to work, they might increase their productivity."

Despite all that, Samuel does not plan to slow down anytime soon.

The bachelor declined to deal his monthly income. But investment bankers in Singapore usually earn a five-figure sum.

"It's not really a need. It's more of a want. If you're struggling to feed your family then obviously work-life balance takes a back seat.

"I actually feel my work-life balance is not that bad. An important component of that is flexibility in your working environment."

"If you have a birthday celebration from 8 to 10, you can take two hours off to join the celebration and then go back to work and finish up from 10 to 12.

"You don't really miss out on the important things. You probably just sacrifice a bit of sleep, which is not so important when you're not so old or when you're used to it."

But sleep is not the only thing that Samuel is sacrificing.

"I can't go for long holidays with my parents. I have to miss out on helping out on some of my friends' weddings. I can only attend, I couldn't help out. I can't be a best man.

"There will definitely be sacrifices, but you have to think of it in a longer time-frame. You might sacrifice a little bit of work-life balance in the earlier years but have slightly better work-life hours in the later years."

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