Power Panel: Work around Life vs Life around Work at EXIndonesia

68% of employees in Indonesia said they will not opt for higher salaries or job promotions and rather prioritize work-life balance, as per a Michael Page Survey.

To reach a more sustainable work-life, life-work balance in the continuously evolving work order is the practice every stakeholder in the working ecosystem is debating. To carry forward the debate to land on to a reasonable and relevant work scenario which is benefitting for both employers and employees, in this power-packed panel session at EX Indonesia, industry leaders explore how companies redesign roles, policies, and organizational structures to make new rules at work, fine-tuned to changing talent needs. Let’s explore how best employers are tuning into the renewed talent needs and values.


  • Ayu Anditry C – Head of People, BukuWarumg
  • Maris Karima R – Global HR Solutions Lead, Cargill, Indonesia


  • Randeep Singh – Co-Founder & COO, HONO

Randeep Singh- Hello! I manage the operations for organizations called HONO. I have got a very beautiful panel. I could quickly reintroduce myself. I’ve close to 20-25 years of experience in the industry majorly into HR-tech.  Here I am in Indonesia talking to you. Please introduce yourself Marish & Ayu.

Maris Karima- Thank you, Randeep. Hi everyone. My name is Maris Karima. I am working for Cargill Indonesia. It is a good opportunity to be here and share a bit of the initiative we have in Indonesia. While I am sitting here, it doesn’t mean that I know everything. I will take this as an opportunity for me to learn from you. Thank you so much.

Ayu Anditry- Hi everyone. How are you feeling? My name is Ayu Anditry. Some people can call me Ayu. Some people can call me Andit. I am 60 years old. I have half of 60 years of experience in HR, but mostly in financial services. Right now, I am working with BukuWarung which is a tech enabler. We’re helping Indonesia’s small and micro entrepreneurs with our services.

Randeep Singh- Thank you for your introduction. The topic is quite interesting – Work vs Life, Life vs Work: The Changing Rules.  I think these are the people who have learned how to balance work and life, life over work. We will keep it a little light. The responsibility is on me and I have called these beautiful people sitting right next to me.  We are provoking some thought processes. We will make it very interactive.  Work and life -- these are the two sides of the same coin. When I am an employee, while I am working from office -- for me work-life balance is more important. Right? As an employee working remotely; life-work balance becomes more important. That’s the difference.

How do you see this transition that is happening? Why are we discussing this today? I am little surprised because this is a classical debate on work-life balance that has been happening for donkey’s years. But more so life-work now. But why is the discussion coming right now? Is something important? I have been hearing this. Anyone who is working from office wants to have fair work-life balance. How relevant you think after the pandemic struck us has juggling of work life and life work has become?

Ayu Anditry- Thank you.  That’s a very good question. Why are we now discussing work life balance? Even though we have been for donkey’s years as you said. We have managed worked then. So, these are not new problems.  But why it is more important now to discuss than ever is that with work life balance, ‘life’ changes. I think in the past two years, life as we know, it has changed for everyone. I think after COVID, there are some who want to enjoy work life. For some of them, family matters more. They want to spend more time with family. They want to spend more time on their health. And the next question is that I have my work things. How can I achieve those goals at the same time? While I am working on this problem in my family. So, I think that’s why it has become more important.

Maris Karima – I am the one who still believes that work and life cannot be separated. We as human being have an obligation to work. As much as we have the obligations towards our life. So, the thing I would like to share. Cargill is one of the big international companies which is dealing with so many production workers. The challenge is how we can create fairness in terms of how we can initiate net effect work balance program in our company. Because we cannot implement work balance work for production worker right.  We cannot ask them to stay away from the plant.

For production worker of course we cannot ask them to default work schedule to today’s meeting in plant. Rest of the days they can work in home. We cannot do that.  The things we can do is the how we can create some non-monetary program really impactful to the employees.  

I can tell a scholarship program is like employee assistance program. Perhaps I can come to know what kind of program that you guys have in your company.

Randeep Singh- Thank you so much. That brings a very important fact that you shared. You know sometimes its work. Sometimes its life. But at times it makes me think that it’s not a state that anyone can achieve. So, there is nothing called as work life - life work. There is no perfect balanced life. It’s a big thing. So, for me, it is the continuous cycle that keeps on happening in the organization. What it reflects on the organization is much more important. Right. Because you represent an organization. I represent an organization. So, how do you think organizations are faring with this equation that needs to be built which is balancing work and life? Or, whatever cycle that you can call it. Because I believe at times organization come under tremendous pressure to change the DNA to bring in this concept right. I come from a start-up background. For me there is nothing called as work life balance. Start-ups are start-ups right. You have to work 24*7. You can see this. You have come from the same set up right. So are the organizations trapped at times to be accommodating this balance or this cycle that we are talking about? That’s my question to it. Of course, from your experience you can share how your organization have fared in bringing this balance -- in bringing this cycle -- into the active value delivery which is business at the end of the day.

Maris Karima- We do believe when we are creating so much infrastructure facility or any program; it must support employees who can be a best version of themselves. It’s really created so much value for the company.

We don’t have to worry in terms of the motivation. We don’t have to be worried in terms of the contribution; as long as we are supporting employees to be a better person day by day. Even to be the best person day by day. It's something that could be beneficial for both parties. Coming to equation.

We know exactly when we are implementing flexible time arrangement for office workers, it should neither be a problem nor a headache. In no condition, can we unplug the power of social media including responding emails, including responding WhatsApp.  I don’t know about you but we are still using SMS. Even when we are working from home. This is a big challenge for the company to look at.  That’s one. We are creating a very solid massive program, from the top, from the global team. We need to be disciplined in terms of how we manage it. So, the expectation is for everyone in Cargill is to not to be nagging after office hours in terms of email, in terms of WhatsApp. We are also encouraging our managers that if they need to reach out to their team members after office hours or even before office hours; they can ask them by really starting with the apology. For example, myself who like to reach out for the critical information that I need to get from my team member. I start the WhatsApp or an email with the apology.  Apology for reaching out to you after office hours. So that’s trending, being passed on to everyone as the great component for the interaction & communication between managers and employees.

This is something, it sounds clichéd, I believe, but is easy for us to implement. I am sure this is something similar that we can implement in many other organisations.

Ayu Anditry- I think everyone may have a different perspective. So at BukuWarung, ever since the get-go, we started in the middle of the pandemic.  For some companies, remote work; work from anywhere, flexible working are the exception rather than a norm. For us it’s more a norm and it’s working well for us. But as you said sometimes HR practitioners see things at trends and sometimes people, and team can lose their DNA because they are not applying or adjusting to the kind of organization they are or the kind of organization they want to be.  Definitely like what Maris said working from anywhere is not going to work for Cargill right. Like Machines are not going to work themselves.    

So that’s what’s most important for HR practitioners to understand first - what is your business role? What’s your business process?  What kind of employees that you need? What kind of setting works best for that specific kind of company?  Earlier this morning we were talking about hyper personalization. In 5-10 years, 70-80 percent of current employees -- they will marry they will have children. There will be shift of events in their life. Its process to relook whether it is the right setting or not. Whether I still have that bundle of energy you know to be working in this manner. Things like that. So ultimately, it’s about finding that right fit between what your organization needs, what are the specific set of customers.  Because candidates are all customers. Employees are customers. What do they want from organization and how can we best adjust our policies to provide that some way for them. We don’t have to lose who we are as an organization.

Randeep Singh - Essentially you see the risk of DNA being exposed right.  Something that just comes to my mind. These days technology plays a lot of part in how overall way things are managed. The way HR is run. Do you see -- just a quick answer from both of you -- do you see any impact that technology can play in bringing this balance or its just fact - work life balance is just esoteric. But do you see technology playing any part in your respective workplaces. I mean how can you track what the engagement levels are?  Can we do something preventive?  Can we look into some indicators that could help me give that insistence to the employees? Do you see technology playing a role?

Ayu Anditry - Definitely. Anyway, we are a tech company. Right. We believe that technology is enabler. It allows us to do things that may be 10 years ago we would’ve done with a greater amount of effort behind it.  Simple things like when I started working if I wanted to apply for leave. I have to put it on paper, then somebody has to sign it. Right now, there is technology that allows you to simply click it on app and then your manager sends it back. It’s done. I have seen a lot of applications using technology including engagement where you can easily survey people. Where you can survey your employees in terms of engagement like how they are feeling and what are there pain points.

Maris Karima- Yes, technology is an enabler. However, the things we need to be mindful is on how we can enable the technology with humanized approach. Yes, we are enabling the technology but the without human approach, the contact between the HR person and employees – is diminished.     

So, the challenge is the how you can have more humanized approach to enable the technology. Commitment and humanized technology are two key points for us.

Randeep Singh- As a technology company of course, I can pitch in. We do a lot of work in identifying certain moments that matters in employee life cycle besides engagement like survey or you have certain predictive that work which give you some insights which could build actions of key stakeholders for them to engage with people or do something differently which could bring out this work life balance. So, yes technology does play a fair part. I represent a tech-company so I can talk about it.

I think it is a very recent phenomenon that has now been prevalent in the market only because the shift from work life to life work has happened. This is a word called Moonlighting. How many of you have heard of moonlighting?

I will define it for you. I will define it for you. Right. It is as an employee or as a worker being actively engaged in two employments at a given point of time. That’s moonlighting. Right. I have a choice to put in more productive hours doing something that I am passionate about or a parallel employment. And I could actually be earning much more than what my principal employer could be giving me as return. In India, there is a large organisation who fired a couple of 1000 people who were moonlighting.

So, in this context I want to ask you, do you think there are certain practices that organizations need to change or put themselves into to address this moonlighting? First of all I believe in moonlighting until and unless it's not conflict of interest of employers. But what’s your thought on this. This is one fall off. There could be many other fall offs as well. If we are too liberal on concept of life work or work life balance either way. Right. So, what are your thoughts?

Ayu Anditry- So, the whole concept of flexibility right -- I think it comes with the similar level of responsibility and trust. Right. You cannot give people flexibility if you can’t trust them.  If there is always this feeling on the back of your neck what if you are working for someone else is not in streamline. All things like that. Right. But at the same time, we as HR practitioners, also need to put clear guidelines.  Because we know ultimately why people work. Yes, for the money. But also, to gain meaning. Right. Maslow pyramid top is ‘self-actualisation’. For some people they are lucky enough to achieve that self-actualization through their work. For some, may be their work and their job are just a mean to pay their bills. They need to find their self-actualization somewhere else. So, there is I think some kind of nuance there in terms of what actually defines moonlighting. What can? What cannot? May be somebody wants to be a wedding singer? May be that’s fine. It also depends on company’s preference right. As long as it does not have a conflict of interest and both of those parties -- employee and the employer have agreed to that and stated in the contract. Then, it’s something that can definitely be adjusted. Because I feel that also if somebody achieves meaning in some other way. May be its hobby. They also have more fulfilled life. Then they are able to approach their work being more energized.

Maris Karima- Yes, some points I like to share. I agree with Ayu. For instance, if somebody is also a Youtuber, right. It’s fine. But we don’t allow employees to have other work in our working agreements in the company.

The second thing I would like to share is the on how we can create some exciting set up for our employees to be part of our growth. For example, we do have ‘EDGE’. EDGE stands for entrepreneur digital growth engine which is collecting so many ideas from employees that can be considered as new ways in which companies can generate planning. Our community and financial organisations are very pleasant that there are so many new ideas coming in terms of so much of change.    

I can tell in Indonesia itself we are submitting 15 proposals as new ideas to our groups. So many things that might be coming new ideas coming from employees are really providing a new energy.

Also, we are allowing employees to do their maximum 20% of work time to do tasks beyond their job responsibilities. Just something that we believe because in other companies we can create some of initial revenue from these programs also, at the same time people energize and people can get some legit income. So again, it’s kind of mutual context at the same point of time.

Randeep Singh- So, you are saying there could be enough possibilities within the organization to a worker. Organisations can put people into a channelized way of showing the passion for what they are passionate about – then organisations tapping into that and employers benefitting from that and then employees benefitting from that.

Maris Karima- Giving an example.  We do have a sales supervisor.  He becomes IT and he has a passion of becoming a software engineer. To start he can provide the solution creating application initially. From the supply chain to the warehouse.  So, it’s creating so much benefit at the same time we are buying it from him.

Randeep Singh – I want to have one conclusive thought from you. As I’ve already spoken, work-life balance is a cycle. You can’t achieve a perfect state of life. But any concluding comments on how you see this going in next 1-2 years. Is this concept going to mature? Is it going to fade out? I see a lot of people wanting to come back to work place. Right. Because they get the energy levels.  Of course, they love their family but they have seen them enough for two years.  Now they want to get back to office space. And go back to the white board and do something creative. So, where do you see this concept going in next couple of years? Is it going to fade out?  Or it is still going to become stronger and there are different definitions has to come up. My conclusion is that it is still evolving. No one knows what the consequences are. And of course, we need to chart out the plane. How that balance of cycle would be infused in the organization.

Ayu Anditry- Oh well. As you said it’s a cycle. Work life balance adjust to how life is at that certain point of time. And I feel that since life will always be involved then interpretation of what does it mean for company finding work life balance or work life interpretation to its employees will continually evolve. Right. Or May be during the pandemic its working from home to keep everyone safe. Right now, there is more flexibility. People have the choice. Some people have had enough of their family.  I want to meet other people. They can come to the office. For others they want to stay at home. They can do that. It’s just the way. It’s the most important thing is how can companies personalize these things to provide the choices to certain extent so that employees feel comfortable working.

Maris Karima- As I mentioned earlier, 68% employees forego salary or job promotion. I would like to originally ask our top management -- board of directors to use the remaining balance of employee budget into something impactful to these employees. I think there is something that we need to be really doing as top management to have another context in terms of employee engagement including their well-being program.

Randeep Singh – Thank you.