The New Nine to Five: How Traditional Hours Are Holding Your Business Back
Dolly Parton put it best when she sang, “Working nine to five, what a way to make a living.
Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving.”
In a world where technology is rapidly changing and growing with the human race, it provides us a platform to connect anytime, anywhere. Face-to-face interaction can be meaningful, but Monday-Friday office cubicle isolation isn’t necessary anymore.
According to Cisco’s Connected World Technology Final Report, “two-thirds of Gen X, Gen Y and HR professionals believe that an organization that has adopted a flexible, mobile and remote work model has a competitive advantage over one that requires employees to be in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday.”
Eight Ways Non-Traditional Hours Benefit Businesses
The Ohio University School of Business released an experiment comparing the traditional eight-hour workday in the United States to the six-hour workday in Sweden. The results showed that when workers switch to a six-hour day, there is a marked reduction in absenteeism and higher productivity performance among employees. Working professionals in Sweden tend to be more productive with six-hour workdays rather than the traditional eight because there are fewer distractions, and they can stay focused. Having shorter workdays keeps employees on track with completing their work because the two extra hours gives them time to spend doing things they enjoy and prepare for the next business day.
Having a healthy work-life balance allows working individuals to be emotionally healthy. Having shorter workdays allows the working person to explore hobbies, travel, visit loved ones, and so much more. Excellent emotional well-being significantly lowers the turnover rate due to burning out. Employees stay at businesses because they enjoy working there.
If you come to work happy and rested, you will do the job more efficiently and manage to do the same work as if you were working for eight hours each day. Being more efficient will create a higher level of work accuracy and provide work individuals the opportunity to rise above the standard work expectations. This means businesses having a work staff that hardly “drops the ball” or a team that doesn’t need to be micromanaged.
Being emotionally healthy and completing work assignments efficiently also means that employees become dedicated to their work. It’s no secret that when we enjoy our job we tend to produce a higher quality of work. Dedication to a job can take the appearance of many different things such as; punctuality, completing and starting work assignments ahead of the projected time course, extra training, or seeking out growth opportunities. Employees who are dedicated to their job see the bigger picture outside of themselves. They are team players that are hungry to learn and grow.
Shorter workdays mean less time to get work done. While there have been arguments that a shorter workday could cause more stress in the workplace, researchers have found the opposite to be true. Harvard Business Review released a study that stated, “the shorter workday forced the team to prioritize effectively, limit interruptions, and operate at a much more deliberate level for the first few hours of the day.” As a result, the teams became more disciplined in getting their work done. Shorter deadlines helped create an atmosphere of “let’s get shit done.”
Less time means employees need to have excellent time management. By working six-hour days rather than the traditional eight-hour shifts, you lose close to ten work hours every week. This means employees have to efficiently schedule their days for work assignments and meetings and allow time for the unexpected, such as projects needing more time to complete or perhaps an internet crash. Employees with excellent time management can roll with the punches. They don’t let small bumps interfere with the end goal.
Being independent is a massive characteristic of a great employee. No one likes to micromanage or constantly tell someone how to complete an assignment or what needs to be done next. When employees work shorter days, they no longer have “wasted time” they can’t sit and think in great detail of how something needs to be completed, and they surely don’t have time to wait for someone to tell them what to do. Shorter days mean a fast-paced work environment, and it’s essential to hold your own.
Independence means you can complete tasks before they are given and move onto the next. It also means that as an employee, you are deemed reliable. Being reliable is a strong characteristic that showcases a well-rounded employee. Oftentimes when a company says they want a well-rounded employee they mean a reliable employee. Being reliable means that not only does your manager or boss turn to you but your co-workers as well. A reliable employee is someone who is dedicated, disciplined, efficient, productive, and has strong time management skills all wrapped up in one. Businesses don’t have to worry about these employees because they are the model of what every organization and company strive for their employees to exemplify.
The Bottom Line:
The eight-hour workday traces back to nineteenth-century socialism — a time before the rise of digitalization, robots, and technology. So much has changed since then. The internet has fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and play. Yet despite all of this, the eight-hour workday still reigns supreme. The United States has witnessed a considerable reduction in the total number of full-time workers since 2007, while part-time work has dramatically increased. More and more people are leaving full-time jobs with benefits to work part-time. Often these part-time jobs pay competitively. For example, my local Sam’s Club has a starting rate at fifteen dollars an hour working part-time, whereas the entry bank position offers thirteen dollars an hour working forty hours a week. Double the work time with less pay. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and revise the working day. People want and need a better work-life balance.