It’s a common perception that the working hours in Asia are longer. While it’s true for some industries, it isn’t for most of them. For example, it may appear that people leave work late but the truth is that they also arrive later.
And sometimes a lot of time is filled during the day either being idle or being unproductively distracted. Attending meetings where you don’t contribute or learn anything, and having lengthy cigarette or coffee breaks are not uncommon. Even worse (or better if you are a slacker) is when it’s a big corporation and being lost in a sea of people means that no one will notice you being gone for more than 20 minutes at a time.
So I never understood this appearance of working hard but hardly working. I’d rather show up on time, do my work and leave on time. A cousin who had work here and had gone back to Malaysia to become a self-employed boss had to educate his employees thus: I don’t care if you leave early, as long as you’ve finished your tasks for the day, and I don’t want to see you in here late just because you’ve wasted your day doing non-work related stuff.
Meanwhile over here in Oz, in some of my past jobs I’ve struggled to stay occupied and would look at the clock constantly like an anxious school kid waiting to get out of school. With my current job though, it’s the opposite. It gets quite busy and sometimes it’s hard to leave on time because I don’t want to leave things that I can do today till tomorrow, and thus compound my workload the next day.
Though for the sake of work-place harmony, I think I should try to leave on the dot more often. Because while I don’t want to be look like a slacker, I also don’t want to appear to one-up my colleagues by leaving later.
And I’m sure all of the above sounds just like Dilbert or an episode of Seinfeld: you want to look like you are working hard, but not too hard because no one likes a brown-nosing workaholic who makes everyone else look bad. Heh.