Monday to Thursday you will find Joyce Loh working full pace in her HR role at Shell’s Pulau Bukom Manufacturing Site. Fridays are a different matter – her laptop is off and she is home enjoying quality time with her two young children.
It’s a working pattern no one would be surprised to see women or men adopting in most parts of the West. But in the East it’s still uncommon. Joyce explains: “Face time at work is very important and long hours are common, and I think a lot of people are unsure how to start the conversation about part-time working, even if they are interested in it.”
Joyce first experienced part-time working on an 80% basis six years ago after having her first child, Keira, while she was based with Shell Projects & Technology in The Netherlands. When she relocated to Singapore in 2009 she wanted to continue this pattern. “I began discussions with my line manager, who was willing to support. I initially did 4.5 days to build up my credibility, then after a couple of months of this working successfully, I moved to four days.”
She continued this pattern after maternity leave to have her second child, Kaspar, now aged three. Her husband Michiel, a teacher at an international school, also works a four-day week.
“It took time for everyone to adjust to me not being in the office full time,” admits Joyce. “I find it encourages me to be proactive and ensure I have meaningful conversations and work effectively when I’m in. In my current role I have the option to work from home but I choose to work at the site, because my role requires a connectivity with people that I feel is most effective when I’m physically there.”