Technology Impacts the Traditional 9-5 Workday

by Matt Thomas

There was a time when the traditional nine-to-five work schedule was a governing model of a day’s work. With the rise of the gig economy, nine-to-fives are dying and companies are feeling the effects. In fact, about 36 percent of U.S. workers are now considered freelance workers. Companies need to do their best to keep their employees engaged or they risk losing them to the gig economy. Technology has changed the way employees work, allowing them to have access to their work wherever and whenever. As a result, employees are wanting to work from home more than ever.

Nine-to-fives are still preferred among most companies, but many are struggling to keep their employees productive throughout the workday. According to the 2018 Mercer Global Talent Trends Report, nearly 51 percent of employees want their company to offer more flexible work options. Below are a couple of reasons why the eight-hour workday is failing and how companies can address it.

Productivity Decreases in the Eight-Hour Workday
During the workday, it is rare that employees are actually productive throughout the entire day. Over the course of an eight-hour day, the average employee works for only about three hours. The rest of the day is spent doing things other than work, including eating, socializing or reading the news. By offering a flexible work schedule, employers enable employees to better prioritize their lives outside the office.

The term, “remote work” has been given an unfair reputation. Over the years, there has been a myth surrounding the idea of remote working arrangements, claiming those who work from home are slackers or unproductive. However, the ability to work wherever and whenever is extremely appealing to U.S. workers. According to research reported in the New York Post last October, 59 percent of American workers stated that they feel more productive when working from a remote location. With remote work taking the modern workforce by storm, it is important for companies to find ways to help employees become more productive. Since many individuals work in different ways, remote opportunities may be the best solution for a company’s productivity. For example, morning people like to get their tasks done and out of the way first thing in the morning. Night owls, on the other hand, often get their burst of energy when the sun goes down.

By offering the option for flexibility, a business can help its employees become more efficient as well as productive on their preferred schedule.

Promote a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Millennials and Gen Z have grown up in the technological age and have become accustomed to it. As millennials and Gen Z continue to take over the workforce, they have come to expect employers to offer flexibility. To them, remote working arrangements and flexible work hours are seen as a required luxury. Also, millennials and Gen Z are starting to have families and are wanting a company that offers flexibility to fit their increasingly busy schedule.

Flexible work arrangements are an easy way to provide employees with a healthy work-life balance. A flexible work arrangement can allow employees to shift their everyday schedule by starting the day later or leaving earlier, meaning the total number of work hours doesn’t change.

While technology has opened the door to many opportunities, it has also presented significant challenges. The younger generations have constant access to their phones and emails. This causes an unprecedented amount of stress outside the workplace. Yet, employers are trying to find innovative ways to offer flexibility and benefits to help keep their employees engaged. Implementing the steps above is a good starting point to help employees remain productive and more engaged overall.

Matt Thomas is president of WorkSmart Systems Inc., an Indianapolis-based Professional Employer Organization founded in 1998. As a leading PEO, WorkSmart serves more than 200 client companies in 37 states. WorkSmart is also an active member of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations.

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