It’s Time to Rethink the Work Day
Despite the parameters of the typical 9-5 work day, many professionals today would admit to “logging on” after hours. In a hyper-connected environment, it’s all too easy to check email at the gym, or on your way to meet a friend. The flip side to enabling a mobile workforce is that the lines that define the work day have become blurred. While some companies have cracked down on after-hours emails, maybe they’re approaching the situation from the wrong perspective. Rather than forcing employees to operate within the construct of the 9-5, the future of work will be significantly more flexible, allowing staff to personalize their work day to best suit individual needs.
The fact that conversations about the changing nature of work are happening today is almost poetic. Consider the origin of the 9-5 work day. During the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th Century, the factory was one of the largest places-of-work in the United States. To help achieve a greater work-life balance (sound familiar?), union leaders demanded an eight-hour work day so factory workers would have equal time to spend with rest and recreation. Technology was enabling new levels of productivity, yes, but it needed to be tempered for the sake of the employee experience.
Today, we’re experiencing this once again. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is once again jumpstarting productivity. The key difference, however, is that unlike the 19th Century workforce, today’s employees don’t view work as a place one goes, but rather, something one does. Physically office spaces are less important than the freedom to innovate and contribute on their own terms. The tools which power the modern worker support a truly individualized work experience, and the natural extension of that is applying it to the work day itself.
Don’t expect this shift to come overnight – there are obvious hurdles to overhauling a century old system. The seeds for meaningful change, however, have already been planted. Recent research has not only highlighted the new lens through which employees view work, but attitudes among the App Generation reveal an appetite for a new status quo. The call for the eight-hour work day designed to place a barrier between personal and professional lives. With mobile technology and flexibility, the desire is for the reverse. Rather than separate, these two facets of our lives need to support each other.
Do you currently have a “non-traditional” work day? Share your experience with us @Fuze.