If your boss had a choice, you would be sitting at your desk every morning at 9 sharp. But the public transport system, which is bursting at the seams during the 8 to 9am rush hour, isn’t having any of it—not enough space means not enough space, okay?
Well, the one good thing that’s come out of this is that it’s prompted LTA to start their Travel Smart initiative to try and stop every Singaporean on the island from flooding the MRT at the same time each morning.
More companies are also allowing flexible work arrangements, though whether employees dare to take them up is another question.
Unless your job requires you to be at the beck and call of customers during fixed hours, there’s a good chance that you are in principal allowed to make use of a flexible work arrangement at least some of the time. If that’s the case, here’s how to use it to your advantage.
Always opt for staggered hours even if you don’t have to
If your company allows employees to work staggered hours (perhaps you can come in and leave an hour early, or come in and leave an hour late), that’s good news as you get to avoid the office crush.
First off, unless you have a very good reason not to, always stagger your hours if you’re given the option, even if you don’t particularly want to. That’s because your commuting time to the CBD will almost definitely be reduced.
If you take the bus or drive, you won’t have to face the terrible jams that grip the city from 8:30 to 9 every morning. If you take the MRT, you will no longer have to endure the frustrating ritual of watching 2 or 3 trains pass before you can squeeze into a carriage.
Why throw away that time if you don’t have to? I used to have to leave the house at 8am to get to work by 9, but in order to arrive at 9:20 I had to leave only at 8:50. Just by leaving the house later, I saved 30 minutes a day.
Let your internal body clock be your guide
When deciding whether to get to work earlier or later, let your internal body clock be your guide. If you are a walking corpse until 11am, coming in at 7:30am isn’t going to do much for your productivity.
Morning people can take advantage of free MRT fares by arriving before 7:45am. If you’re planning to start later and drive or cab it to work, just coming in at 9:30 instead of 9 saves you quite an impressive amount in ERP fees.
Don’t just wait till you wake up late in the morning to decide if you’re going to stagger your hours. Be deliberate about it. If your boss says you can come in at 10 instead of 9 and you’re not a morning person, set your alarm an hour later instead of setting it at the usual time and then snoozing for an hour. You’ll be more well-rested and less murderous when you get up.
Similarly, if you’re a morning person, you’ll want to be deliberate about waking up earlier to get to work instead of leaving things to chance. If you can now work from 7 to 4 instead of 9 to 6, you’ll want to start going to bed a little earlier so you can take full advantage of the boost of energy you enjoy by working in the morning.
Download Travel Smart Rewards
Anybody who takes public transport during off peak hours needs to download Travel Smart Rewards.
It’s a programme that rewards commuters for travelling during the hours when the train isn’t already jam-packed with a zillion other sweaty people. In a nutshell, your Ezlink card gets linked with an account online (register here), and you amass points by tapping in and out.
You get triple the number of points for travelling before 7:15am and between 8:45 and 9:45am. You then redeem these points for cash rewards.
Make use of your staggered hours to get more done
Being able to stagger your working hours effectively gives you a little bit more time every day, thanks to a shorter commute.
To get even more bang for your buck and pack even more efficiency into your day, use your staggered hours to get more done, and hopefully to save a bit of cash too.
For instance, if you have errands to run during office hours, grab the chance to do so during the work day by coming in earlier and then leaving by 4 or 5, in time to rush to the bank or wherever. Parents who need to pick their kids up at childcare centres by 6pm should also definitely take advantage of staggered hours to come in and leave earlier.
If you want to exercise in the morning, being able to come in at 10 gives you plenty of time so long as you’re up by 8 or so, so take advantage of it. You can easily go for a run in your neighbourhood, conveniently head home for a shower and still make it to the office by 10, so long as you’re not running 20km or something.
Being able to come in a little earlier or a little later each day doesn’t sound like much, but if you deliberately plan your life to take advantage of this altered schedule, you’ll be able to free up your weekends and evenings for the stuff that really matters.
Does your workplace have a flexible arrangement? Tell us how you have benefited in the comments!