Having a career means we have to adhere to a certain daily schedule. We tend to assume that working hours are usually between 9am to 5pm. For us Malaysians, we always look forward to the many public holidays we have in store each year.
Meanwhile, there are actually people who work according to a different time zone and adhere to a non-Malaysian calendar, despite working in Malaysia, because they work for foreign companies. In other words, they do not have the privilege of taking time off work during public holidays or even have a ‘normal’ sleep cycle due to their work shift.
For Iqbal Iffat Nordin, his career comes first. This was the mindset he initially had before he accepted his offer for the position as a Transfer Agent at an international investment bank. His expertise is managing funds of funds. The 26-year-old deals with the European market, which explains why his schedule relies on a different time zone, despite working in Malaysia.
When is your work shift?
“I work from 3pm to 12am, and 4pm to 1am, during daylight saving. Local Malaysian time.”
When is your ‘lunch’ time?
“It depends on the funds that I manage on that day. Say, if I have a gap between 6pm to 7pm, I will go for my dinner then. There is definitely no fix time for meals.”
How is your sleeping cycle?
“If it is a good day, I’ll go to bed at 3am or 4am. If I have a ‘bad’ day at the office, I will be asleep by 5am or 6am. There was once where I left the office at 6am, and that was the latest. I automatically wake up after 5 hours of sleep. But I am always making sure that I set my alarm so I don’t oversleep. “
How does your work shift affect your personal life?
“My rule is strictly no work on weekends. I work on weekdays, live on weekends. As for weekends, I have to divide my time. I have family and I have a girlfriend now, so I have to divide time wisely. But it’s not that I can go back to my hometown every week because I have to consider the distance, cost, and time.”
In your opinion, what are the disadvantages about your work shift?
“The sleep cycle is not for every one I guess. I mean, health wise, it’s not really a good thing to stay up so late at night. Then, you eat your meals at odd timings and there is a lack of access to healthy food during those time. So, you tend to gravitate towards fast food. Then, after meals, you go to bed because dinner would be after working hours, and for me, that is already at 3am.”
What keeps you going despite the odd working hours?
“I’ve been working at this company for almost two years, and I plan to stay as long as I can, I suppose. I don’t mind the working hours, actually. I’m young, and I have the weekends. On weekdays, I can wake up earlier and spend some time with my girl during her lunch break or get things done in the morning, for instance, errands, which would not interfere with my work time.”
On the other hand, Nurul Amila Abdul Rahman also has a work schedule that adheres to a different time zone. She is responsible for the Reconciliations Services at another international investment bank here in Malaysia. Working at such odd hours has made the 28-year-old appreciate the spare time she has for her loved ones.
“Since we are supporting clients from European countries, we have to adhere to their timing. For my team, we have three shifts to choose from. 1.30pm, 2.30pm, or 3.30pm, local time. We would rotate shifts every two weeks. If I take the 2.30pm shift, I will be done with work by 11.30pm. I rarely do overtime, but if I do, it would be an extra hour or two.”
How has your working schedule affect your eating habits?
“I usually just order food delivery and eat in the pantry or just watch Netflix during break time because I don’t like going out as it gets tiring. There are not many restaurants nearby my office too. Usually, I eat around 9pm or 10pm. It’s not really healthy to eat too much at night because I am the type of person who gains weight easily when I eat too late in the night.”
How do you manage your relationship with your significant other?
“With odd working hours like this, it’s quite difficult for the person’s significant other to cope with. Some people want to meet up after work to grab a bite or something, you know. Then on public holidays you would like to go on trips together. But it is totally different for us who work based on different time zones.
“Luckily, my current partner also works according to the European time zone. For us, we understand each other’s work shifts. Sometimes on weekdays, my boyfriend drops by after work, even just for an hour, to have food at Family Mart or something, then he goes back home. If not, we just talk on the phone for a while. No matter how busy we are, we will make time for each other.”
What have you learned from working at such timing?
“If I want to go out with friends on a weekday, since most of them are free at 6pm onwards, I am not able to do so. I would say that this working shift shows me that spending quality time with your loved ones and friends is very important. Now that I have less time to spend with them, every second matters. Even if it is just a 2-hour brunch with friends, it is meaningful. You choose to use the limited time that you have, with them.”