Finding the right balance

What are your values about balancing work and home life? How do you integrate these into your corporate culture?

Leong Seng Keat

Chief Executive Officer, Nam Cheong Limited

Key to the company’s success has been our loyal employees, many of whom have grown with us through the years and witnessed our successful listing on the Singapore Exchange in 2011. I attribute this to our family-friendly corporate culture, which is also reflective of my personal belief to work hard and play hard.

Professional success cannot be fully measured or enjoyed without work-life balance and someone to share it with; my own family has been a constant force throughout my career, playing a supportive role and sharing in my triumphs. I believe that good family relations contribute stability and happiness to a person’s overall well-being. In fact, one of Nam Cheong’s hiring policies is to ask the interviewee family related questions. This helps us gauge a potential employee’s values, in keeping with the company’s culture. With the right personal foundation, coupled with the right working environment, workers can be highly productive, better fulfilling their full potential.

For this reason, the company has in recent years invested into systems that simplify processes, easing our employees’ workloads and encouraging them to leave work on time. We respect each individual’s personal time and space and as a leader, I’ve made it a point not to contact my staff over work issues on the weekends. Feedback from department managers has shown that this approach has trickled down to all levels. Our employees are given enough time to rest and return to work fully-recharged, thereby reinforcing a positive family-friendly work culture.

 

Kherk Ying Chew

Managing Partner, Wong & Partners, the Malaysian member firm of Baker & McKenzie International

Discussions about balancing work and home life tend to revolve around how much time should be spent on one or the other. I believe that this is a false dichotomy; it’s all rolled into one life and I want it to be deeply satisfying, both personally and professionally.

There is no guarantee that a 40-hour week will enable me to magically find balance. Instead, I have to strategically create the life I want, one that will give me the experiences and things I deem important.

As a mother, I want to be there for my children; as a lawyer, I continue to look for new ways to deliver higher value to my clients and my firm.

Of course, the myriad nature of work may be demanding and expectations can make it difficult to manage personal priorities, but I consider myself very fortunate to be working for a law firm like Wong & Partners that also shares the same strong merit-based culture that is embedded in the fabric of Baker & McKenzie.

The Malaysian member firm has a Results-Only Work Environment that allows staff to choose when and where to do their work, so long as there is appropriate communication and deadlines are met.

It is important to remember that performance should be judged based on output, and not face time at the office. When employees are given more control over their lives, and are trusted to deliver results, they are more likely to find the work-life balance that they are looking for and be happy.

 

Arvind Agarwalla

CEO and Founder, FACT Software Group

As an entrepreneur who has business operations across Asia, I understand all too well the importance of striking a balance between work and personal life. I always find time to pursue my interests and spend quality time with my family.

I am grateful to my wife, mother and two daughters for their unstinting support. Their understanding and patience helps me in managing the pressures of a growing business. It is this teamwork that helps me succeed. These values also form the strong pillars of the organisation.

I am an avid photographer, a passionate Salsa dancer and love to travel. Taking time to unwind allows me to be more focused when I’m working, which in turn, increases my creativity and productivity at work.

While there is no magic formula for achieving this balance, one can find enough time to do anything a person wants. It is just a question of flicking the mental switch.

As a software developer, FACT’s most valuable assets are our employees and their creativity. When the hours are long, creativity suffers. A proper work-life balance ensures a healthy work environment and productive employees.

To achieve this, we provide them with state-of-the-art technology, as well as the right tools and opportunities to unwind through regular activities, such as company sponsored movie nights and monthly birthday celebration lunches at the office.

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