The 9 to 5 Workday Is Going Away

Ten years ago, if you’d used the term “9 to 5” in conversation, everyone would have known exactly what you meant. Today, there’s a good chance many younger workers would wonder why you were talking about a Dolly Parton movie from the ‘80s. That’s because the 9 to 5 workday is going away. In fact, for most employees it’s already gone. Nearly two-thirds of workers surveyed in a recent CareerBuilder poll—many of whom work in traditional industries such as financial services and sales—reported that, “working nine to five is an outdated concept.”

Increased Engagement, Productivity…and Anxiety

The explosion in the number of technologies, devices and applications brings both awe and headaches to many CIOs

Besides ushering in the demise of the classic workday, technologies that allow workers to perform their jobs from anywhere at any time have also increased employee engagement. That, in turn, has led to a number of other business benefits including increased “productivity, profitability and customer engagement.” But, despite the shift to more flexible work schedules, not everyone is achieving harmony in their work and personal lives. Half of those participating in the CareerBuilder survey check their work email outside of office hours and 40 percent wake up with work on the brain. The same technologies that have allowed workers to break free from the office have had an unfortunate side effect for many—an increase in “always on” anxiety.

The Future of Work in a Connected World

But, increased connectivity doesn’t have to mean increased availability. In the future of work anything is possible and some forward-thinking leaders have come up with some surprising solutions to help keep employees engaged, empowered, productive—and sane. During a recent panel event that Jive hosted at HanaHaus in the heart of Silicon Valley, a who’s who of HR and IT professionals discussed, among other things, the end of the 9 to 5 workday and what it means to always be connected.

The event, Evolving Workstyles: The Future of Work in a Connected World, was moderated by author and futurist, Jacob Morgan and featured the Chief People and HR Officers from Cisco, LinkedIn, Pandora, NetSuite and Jive Software, as well as the VP of IT and Security at SugarCRM. “I think there is responsibility on the part of the executives in the organizations to respect the boundaries of employees,” said Morgan, but added that employees must let leaders know what those boundaries are.

Leading by Example

LinkedIn CHRO Pat Wadors says executives have to recognize that they have a “shadow” and they need to be careful about the example they’re setting for employees. “You’ve got to be responsible for that ripple effect,” she says. She suggested one way for leaders to let employees know they don’t have to be “on” is to avoid sending work communications on weekends. Instead, she proposes scheduling email batches to go out on Monday. Kathy Zwickert, Chief People Office at NetSuite agrees. “You have to lead by example,” she says. “If I’m not asking them questions over the weekend, it gives them some freedom to not have to be checking their emails all weekend.”

They’ve seen the future and that future is choice

The Bat Phone

Wadors has another trick to prevent herself from getting caught up in an “always on” mentality—she ditches her smartphone for a flip phone—which she calls her “Bat Phone”—when she heads for bed. That way, she won’t be tempted to check work communications at night, while important people, such as the CEO and her kids, can still reach her, she says. “I got the Bat Phone and I’m sleeping my 8 hours.”

It’s clear that working 9 to 5 is no longer a way to make a living. Fortunately, today, there are both new technologies and old tricks to support a flexible-but-sane workstyle. By combining the expert advice above with collaborative digital workplaces, your employees can perform their jobs during work hours—no matter what those hours are. To find out how all of the panelists are dealing with the end of the traditional workday, as well as several other topics related to the Future of Work, watch the video below.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how to attain and retain top talent.

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