Is Singapore in the Correct Time Zone?
Customarily, a time zone of a region is determined by its geographical location but for Singapore, it is an exception. Going by geographic division of time zones around the world, Singapore falls within the GMT+7 region, but has changed to (GMT+8). So how did Singapore get to this moment in time?
Let’s briefly look back at why the Singapore Standard Time took a change over the time. On 1 January 1982, Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia went from GMT+7:30 to GMT+8, when the territories decide to jump ahead in time to be in line with East Malaysia. West Malaysia took this shift to align with the entire country of Malaysia, and Singapore followed suit to this.
Advantages of Common Time Zone
- To facilitate business between the two countries as a common time zone would make it easier for countries to co-ordinate business dealings, trade and transport links.
- There would be better co-ordination between stock markets and banks if their opening and closing hours were the same in all the capitals.
- Enable government agencies, especially enforcement agencies to streamline actions and procedures.
Hence, it is evident in Singapore that geography is not the main determinacy for time zone.
Although it is not usual to discuss time zones in our daily routine, a little understanding on how this can actually impact our livelihood will go a long way.
Impact of Time Zone to Individual
It is no secret that Singapore is a fast-paced society, with Singaporeans striving to outrun and get ahead of one another. Although positive, this has grave repercussions for many Singapore citizens, and foreigners working and living in the republic.
This hectic lifestyle has adverse effects on an individual’s well-being, mental health and also family ties. Ranging from an academic point of view where students are seen juggling between studies, extra-curricular activities and working part time, to adults shouldering their heavy workload, often having to work extra hours or use their free time to complete their work, the only ones who can afford to slow down are the senior citizens.
This ingrained pressure has impacted the fertility rate in Singapore, where the anxiety and stress affect fertility in both men and women. Other reasons like cost of living in Singapore and starting and raising a family add to it.
When we are busy, exhausted or drained, our mental health is highly affected, and enough rest is crucial to our mental well being. To conceive, a woman should have a stable mind and necessary support be it physically, financially, or mentally. On top of that, one should make a decent-enough living to comfortably sustain expenses in life. With all these in mind, Singapore has one of the lowest fertility rates according to studies.
It is not worth to be slogging out your precious life and possibly missing out on the bits that are important and valuable. As such, one of the government’s approach to this matter is by advocating the importance of marriage, family and children, providing government subsidies and increasing provisions.
But there is only much the government could help, and as they are also looking at ways to improve infrastructure and environment, at the end day it is imperative that everyone should recognize these issues and take matters into their hand.
Impact of Time to Business
Being the major business hubs in Asia, most of the daily routine tasks in Singapore is influenced by time and in most countries, the expansion of transport and communications as well as trade globalization has made time-keeping an important aspect.
With different time zones all around the world, businesses in Singapore face many challenges.
Some companies in Singapore practise a globally distributed workforce, and this may result in difficulties for real-time conversations among the company employees. Some may have their sales office or product developers out of Singapore and when a problem arises during the few hours of their workdays overlap, resolution often gets delayed and may affect the business productivity. As mentioned above, time is money, and when what normally can be resolved in a ten-minute conversation can get postponed 24 to 48 hours and in a virtual environment, this is considered devastating.
There are many Multinational Corporation (MNC) prevalent in Singapore and for some of these companies, their parent company is situated in a region with different time zones. One significant challenge seen here is that all dealings related to Human Resource (HR) will be affected. A large communication gap instils, especially when a critical issue requires immediate solution and it might be detrimental for the company’s reputation as most employee demands immediate resolution.
As a first-hand approach to this matter, it is the responsibility of the Human Resources intermediaries to:
Be clear on expectations – As they would not be as available to overseas employees, it is important to set objectives and summarize intermediate actions at a specific course of time.
Encourage communication – Be sure to encourage proactive communication and prepare appropriate channels to expedite spontaneous interaction.
How 24-hours Businesses are Impacted?
While an extended-hours operation offers major benefits to sector such as health care, information technology, manufacturing, retail and service businesses and their customers, it has tendency to turn the tables and brings about a variety of challenges.
Given how Singapore is a hotbed for businesses, call centre operations are outsourced there and most of them are in the 24-hour global operations and have customer base across different countries.
Taking a closer look from an employee’s perspective, below are some of the negative factors resulting from extended-hours operations catering to different time zone:
- Loss of productivity
- High level of absenteeism
- Higher turnover
- Greater health care costs
- Accidents in workplace
- Isolated and disengaged workforce
To tackle these factors, companies may opt to adopt alternative management strategies which will be extremely valuable for accessing new markets. Without an effective and proper management strategies that will accommodate time differences, the future growth of the business will be in stake. Let’s take an example, if your business’s core values are speed and efficiency, the negative turnout will impact your business’s reputation and outputs.
Extended-hour operations also poses a challenge from an employer’s perspective. With about a number of employees working irregular, extended schedule or graveyard hours, this comes to a rise for overtime pay and recruitment costs.
On the contrary, some of the 24 hours businesses do bring benefits to most people, including the locals and foreigners in Singapore. For instance, the F&B sector profits from the 24 hours operated outlet as people have easy access for food. Fast-food outlets, convenient stores, supermarkets and local eateries have proven to also boost the tourism industry.
Singaporeans have become deeply synchronized to this 24-hour day-night cycle, adapting to the different time zones around the globe. However, the notable question here, is 24 hours really enough?
A short answer to this, time management. Despite the complexities of time and hectic lifestyle, the art of mastering time management may seem like an easy concept but so elusive that it requires the willingness of an individual to acknowledge their presence and time on this earth and wish to appreciate the surroundings while it lasts.
While having a proper time management can ultimately simplify our lives, this concept requires some shift of changes to the way we think about time. Complacent we become on the pretext of having no time, and there are 86400 seconds a day and how we use them is crucial, because if not, even having 48 hours a day will not be enough.
Categories: About Singapore