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As expected, rush hour traffic was thin today, Tuesday 31 January. It usually is the case on the first work day following a long weekend. Lunar New Year a.k.a. Chinese New Year fell on 28th and 29th January – a weekend and therefore Monday 30th was declared a public holiday.


Many employees leverage on the long weekend and take a vacation break, and return several days later. Well and good.

But some staff return to work on the second working day – the Wednesday. They take one day off – the first work day following the long weekend. Quite often these are the same people and you notice a consistent pattern of behaviour.

It is not because they are on vacation, though that is the reason proffered. The reality is, these people – a minority, if I might add – know that the first work day after a long weekend is also the most taxing.

Staff return to the office to face a deluge of emails and work, and it can be overwhelming and stressful.

Therefore these clever people stay away an extra day, hoping that most of the backlog will be cleared by the time they return to the office. Shrewd. But it also smacks of a person who gives only lip service to team work.

It is difficult to identify the ones gaming the system as many are genuinely on vacation. And mind you, there is nothing wrong to chill out and recuperate at home – especially after several days of partying. It gets worse when managers pull the same disappearing stunt and return to the office after the dust of the first day settles. We have all met managers who are cliché junkies – parroting something they read but not following through with action.

How do you prevent this abuse or moderate the behaviour?

Well, if a person calls in sick, there is nothing much you can do, especially if their infirmity is certified by a doctor. Even if you detect a pattern, one does not ordinarily question a physician’s decision.

For the rest of the staff – resort to rotation.

Assuming your office has six people and there are three long weekends in a particular year, allow only two people – obviously, each time a different pair – to take off. This allows staff to leverage on long weekends and also spreads the burden of clearing backlog.

Wherever you are and whatever the number of staff in your office – this is one solution.