A perspiring salaryman entering an apartment at 11:00pm with a pale and tired face is possibly one of the most common sights of Dhaka.
With the ever-increasing influence of the corporate culture, it seems that this phenomenon is not going to go away anytime soon, especially when working 6 days out of 7 a week has become the norm.
Even in some organisations, employees have to work on Fridays. Despite it being proven time and again that productivity and creativity in work only come when there is a healthy amount of vacation, somehow the culture has been the opposite.
No social life?
Syed Samiul Alam is a graduate of IBA, Dhaka University (DU) who is working as a Business Analyst for Radiant Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
He said, "Regular office days take away most of the peak hours. Therefore, family issues, family invitations, and other programmes are held up for the weekends and other holidays. 5-day work and 2-day weekend give some opportunity to attend and conduct such occasions.”
Based on different company's work cultures and employee cultures, an average office-going person in Dhaka spends 8 to 10 hours at the office on a workday. 2 to 5 more hours are spent on the road, facing traffic jams.
“A sane mind can only take this much if there are sufficient intervals. 2-day weekend or 2 days off per week provides with the opportunity to recover from some of this tiring mental and physical journey.”
People desperately need breaks
He also emphasised the fact of having total breaks from work at times by saying, "It's not an unknown fact how our popular tourist spots overflowed only a couple of months ago when there was a sudden 3-day weekend. It was somewhat influenced by an unhealthy culture that has been nurtured in our corporate sector for a long time.”
Many organisations fail to understand the greater good of the company as well as of employees and enforce a 6-day workweek. If such people had 2-day weekends, thinks Mr Alam, they could adjust their yearly leaves and such situations (hassles in a tourist spot) could be avoided.
Most of the urban middle and higher middle-class people have to live their lives with little scope for recreational or luxury expenses. In order to improve their lifestyles, side income is a necessity. Those who are good with time management can utilise a 2-day weekend to work on their side hustle.
“Following up to side hustle, the same time frame can be used by one to pursue one's passion. It can be partaking in sports, creating artworks, doing stop motion videos or writing stories and so on," added Mr Alam.
The ‘boss’ too needs break
His concerns are equally echoed by employees who are working in senior positions of big corporate and financial organisations. Rashidul Hasan, vice president and operations manager of a renowned private bank in the country, told the writer,
"Personally, a 5-day workweek gives me time to wind down and return Sundays well-rested. For someone who has been working a desk job for the past twenty-five years, weekends provide a much-desired break to focus entirely on my personal life.”
“People who work white-collar jobs benefit greatly from a 5-day workweek,” continued the veteran, “it boosts productivity in the office, helps employees push forward with their duties and is key to a good work-life balance.”
However, he believes that the possibility of remote work should be explored where it's most applicable.
Although government employees are mostly exempt from this as both Friday and Saturday are off days for most of the government and semi-government organisations in Bangladesh with a few exceptions.
As there is a regulated structure in government jobs regarding this, the employees know beforehand if they have to work on an off day or not. This is something totally absent from the private job market picture, making such jobs less lucrative to a growing number of people.
People who are going to enter the workforce soon, do not have a positive opinion about working for more than 5 days either.
What do the next-gen employees want?
Sadab Rahman Chowdhury, a 3rd-year student of Economics department at DU, emphasises physical and mental health.
"To obtain maximum productivity and utility from an individual, it is essential to focus on one's physical and mental well-being. To ensure this, an employee should at least be granted two days of weekly leave in order to gain the required refreshment.
“I believe that working for five days a week will lead to an optimal outcome for both the employees and employers."
Working for more than 5 days is a trend that is globally disliked by employees and employers alike. Whereas many developed countries are moving to 4 days work week, we are yet to achieve 5 workdays.
It is high time Bangladesh’s job market, specifically the private industry, brings a flexible and relaxing work culture that would nurture creativity.