Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that your colleague stays back so in the office till late at night every day just so he’ll look better than all you other minions? Well, you’re absolutely right.
A recent poll revealed that 2 in 5 millennials in Singapore between the ages of 18 to 30 are afraid their bosses won’t think they’re hard-working if they don’t show their faces at the office. This despite the government’s push to encourage flexible work arrangements in order to reduce, not increase, face time.
If we’re completely honest, there are still way too many bosses in Singapore who prize face time above all else. No matter how well you’re performing at work, you could be penalised for not showing your face at the office enough, and you might see people who’re worse at the job but who seat-warm till late every day get ahead of you.
For those who actually have lives outside of work, take all the flexible work arrangements available to them and refuse to sit at the office for longer than they have to, here’s how to survive without your boss holding it against you.
Make your presence felt when you’re around
Too many Singaporeans hide in their cubicles 12 hours every day when they’re actually spending 60% of their time surfing Facebook, chatting on WhatsApp and shopping online. In fact, the friends who WhatsApp me most compulsively during the day tend to be those who stay beyond 8pm at the office.
Conversely, those who are the most focused at work and don’t reply to messages until after working hours tend to be the ones who leave on time every day.
You may not be willing to stay at the office for more hours than you have to. But when you are around, you want to make your presence felt—and not in a bad way, by gossiping loudly or wayanging, but by showing your boss you’re available and engaged at work.
That means you should not quietly plug away at your desk hoping you’ll be noticed. Instead, take the initiative to ask questions, take active steps to move projects forward and don’t be afraid to consult your boss in person when you need to, instead of sending passive aggressive emails.
This isn’t strictly work-related, but you should also try to embrace your company culture in order to be seen as a team player. Taking part in company-wide events or organising your office’s Christmas party are some harmless ways to become more visible.
Make sure you’re on the ball when you’re working out of office
More than a few Singapore employers are paranoid that their employees are slacking off if they’re not physically at the office, chained to their desks. That must be why, despite the Work-Life Grant, long hours toiling away at the workplace are still the norm for the majority.
If you’re lucky enough to be allowed to work from home a certain number of days in a month, or work staggered or flexible hours, you want your employer to know that you can get things done just as well, if not better, when you’re not physically at the office.
Your boss should see that allowing you to work from home is not going to result in any loss of productivity.
Technically speaking, being able to work from home should enable you to be even more productive, since you no longer have to wake up early for a stressful commute, nor do you need to work with the strains of office gossip ringing in your ears.
Leverage this to do your best work, meet all your deadlines and stay connected with everyone at the office.
Clear communication is key
One of the pet peeves of employers is when their employees go MIA and become uncontactable or unresponsive when they’re supposed to be working from home.
Don’t let anybody say that about you. Make sure you’re always connected via phone and internet when you’re working, and respond to emails quickly and promptly.
You’re likely to be relying on email a lot more when you work staggered hours or from home. Learn the art of writing clear, concise emails. Use numbered lists to save your colleagues from having to read walls of text, and summarise arguments succinctly instead of forwarding 50 page-long email chains.
You also want to keep your boss and teammates updated on your progress if you’re not at the office. Fail to do this, and any absence from the office will be used against you to show how you’re falling off the grid once you leave work.
Take the initiative to offer frequent, meaningful and easy-to-read updates on the status of the projects you’re working on. You might not be physically present, but your colleagues need to know you still care about what goes in at work.
Do you frequently spend long hours at the office? Tell us why or why not in the comments!