Commentary: Agree with quiet quitting or not, we should rethink ‘old’ way of working

SINGAPORE: A famous anecdote from my years in the media and communications industry is this: A branch manager walked into the office at 10pm and, seeing that only half the staff were still at work, shouted, “We don’t have to have enough business. We need more customers.

It’s no secret that some industries want workers who are willing to work long hours. In fact, the first advertising agency I applied to, quite well known at the time, had posted a job posting basically stating that if you are a watchmaker, you don’t have to apply.

In a work culture meeting nearly 10 years ago, an agency chief stood up and said millennials had different values: more interested in work-life balance only through career advancement.

Just a few years ago, aware of the fact that my staff worked long hours, I was fighting for better management of resources and wanted to avoid encouraging the culture of long working hours perceived as a “badge of honor” or a must for a good evaluation.

The rejection I received surprised me. The common answer? These are the dues we paid to get to where we are today. If they can’t, this industry is not for them.


There is some truth in this. We baby boomers or Gen X really consider long hours to work successfully. And yes, many of us have climbed the corporate ranks because such a “good work ethic” has been rewarded.

Work hard now, we are told, to reach a seniority level where we have been paid for our experience, knowledge and expertise, not our hours. Then, and only then, would we have time to pursue and appreciate the things we overlooked in our early years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *