Running Your Business

Is the 9-to-5 Work Schedule on Its Way Out?


  • About 84 percent of millennials work for companies that provide some degree of work schedule flexibility

  • 3 out of 5 workers prefer flexible work scheduling over traditional 9-to-5 hours

  • Science has shown that humans require frequent breaks from work to be more productive

Posted by May 8, 2019

For generations, the 9-to-5 work schedule has been the norm for many workplaces. Established mainly to define open hours for businesses, it takes advantage of available daylight to reduce worker fatigue. But in an age where flexible, remote and gig work is becoming widely prevalent, is it time that we finally eliminate the standard 9-to-5 work schedule? Many experts and employees think so.

Changes in Work Values Could Kill Off the 9-to-5

According to recent CareerBuilder research, three in five workers want to see the end of the 9-to-5 schedule. The survey advised 73 percent of workers in Washington, D.C. think that the 9-to-5 work schedule no longer suits them. Other city workers believe similarly. The majority of those polled in Boston and L.A. (68 percent), New York City (66 percent), Chicago (60 percent), Dallas (62 percent), Houston (58 percent), Miami (55 percent) and Philadelphia (55 percent) want more flexible schedules. This is a direct reflection of younger generations who are dominating the workforce by sheer numbers and demand greater freedom in terms of how and when they work.

According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, 84 percent of millennials now work for companies that offer some degree of flexibility in terms of when they start and complete work each day. Additionally, more than a third say their workplaces offer highly flexible work schedules. This is a preference that will only continue to grow.

Additionally, science has shown that when workers are allowed to take multiple breaks during the day, they are much more productive. A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study, published in Cognition, found that frequent short breaks help adults maintain their focus better than when they are stuck in a chair for eight hours a day.

Pros and Cons of Eliminating the 9-to-5

Changing work schedules to more flexible hours can be beneficial to both employees and employers. However, it’s important to be aware of both the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • It allows employees to work during their individual peak production cycles, instead of watching the clock
  • It provides employees with greater work-life balance, which leads to better health and mental clarity
  • It gives employers a chance to reduce overhead costs when they allow employees to work from home

Cons:

  • Employees may still need some structure in terms of maintaining adequate work hours
  • Companies need to have some supervisors and support staff available for after hours
  • It can be a challenge to get all team members together for strategy meetings and projects

Transitioning Away From the 9-to-5

There are some simple ways to begin moving toward a more flexible work scheduling plan for employees. It’s recommended to evaluate the business necessity for employees to work daytime hours. Most businesses will need to maintain at least some staff members on hand during peak business hours for customer support. Many administrative, production, marketing, sales and other roles may continue on more flexible terms.

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