SG Flexi-Work Debate, Part 2

The SG flexi-work debate, Part 2: For over 25 years, most of my jobs have allowed me to work wherever and whenever I wanted. Sounds like what many people are clamouring for today, BUT please hold your horses.

My life of flexi-work has never been focused on cutting down commuting time and working in the comfort of my home, but being able to deliver results at all costs and at all times. Let me share some examples.

1998, Journalism:

I was an intern journalist at The New Paper in 1998. Mobile phones were not commonplace yet, so I had to scour the entire HDB estate to find a payphone to call my editor. I told him in a nervous voice, “Boss, the newsmaker doesn’t want to speak to me.”

“It’s an important story, we need his quotes. Come back to the office to file the story once you get to interview him.”

“Yes, boss.” I didn’t get back to the office until very late that night but I filed the damned story.

2011, Microsoft:

Bleary-eyed in my home workspace, I am waiting to get into a concall with the Microsoft US folks at 0530 hrs SG time.

An email comes in saying that the call has been cancelled. It’s been rescheduled to 0530 hrs the next day.

Oh well, it’s a good time to take the MRT train to work before rush hour.

2017, Razer:

It’s 0005 hrs and I’m in my budget hotel in Hong Kong doing a concall with my US team members to make sure their marketing plan is on track.

When that is done at 0100 hrs, I get started on the internal briefing document for our HK PR agency for our upcoming company IPO. I have a meeting with the agency at 0900 hrs at Sheung Wan but I also need to do my mandatory morning jog at 0600 hrs.


I have benefited greatly from the flexibility granted to me in all my jobs.

But not once have I requested flexi-time, flexi-place or flexi-load options as a part of my job scope. If I needed to take a call at home, I simply told my boss beforehand or had an informal agreement in place. I have hardly been questioned where I was during work because people could see my work results.

The business world does not say whether it’s better to WFH on Monday or Thursday, or how many hours you should work in a day to prove your worth.

What people care about: your results and whether you have done the right thing for your company.

In the course of being able to work flexibly, I found that I actually had to put in more hours and have more self-discipline to get things done.

If you happen to work in a company that is inflexible or uncaring, don’t get upset that it cannot change. Just move on to a better place. But also know that in the next place, you have to demonstrate your value first, not your concept of what proper working hours should be.

So, just a suggestion from me: Rather than insist a company must have “flexi-XXX” options, perhaps job candidates could ask their hiring managers how the company will give them the autonomy and trust to deliver the best results. Then see what they say