SINGAPORE: About 82 per cent of professionals in Singapore say they are working more hours than what is stipulated in their contracts, according to a survey released by global consultancy firm Morgan McKinley on Wednesday (Sep 17).

Compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific region, the Morgan McKinley Working Hours Survey 2014 showed that this figure was slightly lower than those of Japan and Hong Kong, both registering 84 per cent, but higher when compared to China (65 per cent). 

In addition, nearly two thirds of Singapore's professionals say they feel obligated to work longer hours, but only 28 per cent believe they are definitely more productive during those hours. Of those surveyed, 17 per cent said they worked more than 10 hours beyond their contracted hours.

The majority agreed that the excessive work hours affected their work-life balance, with 85 per cent saying that it had "some impact" or more. Despite that, the majority said they continued to work even when not physically present in office, with 72 per cent of them working from home or on their mobile devices. 

Mr Andrew Evans, Chief Operating Officer at Morgan McKinley South Asia, says this is "indicative of the work culture across Asia", where longer working hours and late nights in the office are commonplace. 

"Typically, in Singapore the workforce starts their day later than their western counterparts, and work lunch breaks are well enjoyed. It is culturally acceptable to enjoy a good hour for eating during lunchtime which does add to a later day's leave," he added.

Even with the culture of working long hours, the survey revealed that only 54 per cent of respondents were aware of flexible work options at their organisation. About 26 per cent of respondents say there are currently no flexible work arrangements at their organisation, with 20 per cent unaware of the flexible options available to them.

"More can be done to introduce increased flexibility to working hours by offices in the Singaporean market," said Mr Evans. 

"While the average professional in Singapore seems dedicated to working extremely long hours, our survey highlights that many professionals are indeed disgruntled with the work-life balance issues," he added. "While a minority of companies are able to offer working from home or flexi hours, clearly in the overall majority this policy is not currently implemented well or deemed acceptable by senior management."

An infographic summarising the survey findings:

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