I’m a huge supporter of workplace flexibility and of ending the 9 to 5 traditional workday. Workplace flexibility isn’t just beneficial to millennials but to everyone working at a company from the intern to the CEO. I recently received an email from my friend who works for a technology company with approximately 3,000 employees. She asked her manager about working at home a few days each week like she was able to at her last job and her managers response was this:
There are a number of factors but it really has to do with the fact that the entire Marketing team continues to work out of the office five days a week, and that we therefore can’t start making exceptions. It might change over time but for now you will have to come into the office during workdays.
So the only reason why she has to go into the office everyday is because everyone else is doing it? This sounds a lot like my situation when I worked for a Fortune 200 company back in 2007. I had a social media position and was unable to work from home because it would “make everyone else jealous”. Well, why not let everyone work from home?
In order to further explain my point, let’s go back to 1946 when the United States government first inaugurated the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, which was a practice adopted by all companies thereafter. Back in 1946, there was no Internet, no email, no VOIP, no Skype and no social networks. A 40 hour work week made sense because after 5 pm, you could leave and enjoy a social life without any connection to work. Times have changed, as you know.
Today, everyone is connected all of the time. We’re doing a lot more global business and technology has integrated our personal and professional lives into one life. There is no 40 hour work week now because your company expects you to work continuously because business keeps going on, regardless of the time and location. 81% of U.S. employees check their work email outside of work hours, 59% do it on vacation and 55% do it after 11 pm at night. Last year, Mozy found that employees continue working until around 7:19 pm after they leave the office at 5 pm. 15% of managers even feel like it’s acceptable to call employees after work until 9 pm.
If employees are forced to do work outside of the office, then they should be able to do personal things at the office. In other words, let’s stop forcing people to work at a certain time and location. It’s pointless in this high tech world. Instead of pushing people into the 9 to 5 model because you’ve always had it, create a workplace flexibility program. I know you can’t answer the question “why is there a 9 to 5 workday” because you have no clear explanation or evidence that it has an impact on productivity. In fact, professionals who work from home are more productive reports Gallup and the Harvard Business Review.
I want to abolish the 9 to 5 workday and I need your help doing it. Show this post to your manager and human resources. Get them to change their legacy practices and allow for more flexibility because it benefits them, not just you.
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