Women In Business

Why working 9 to 5 is archaic

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Back in the 1800’s manufacturing and factory work was booming. Staff were working long, unhealthy hours, sometimes 16 hours a day. In response to this, in 1817 a revolutionary man by the name of Robert Owen coined the slogan ‘8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest.

Many years later (in 1914) one of the first companies to implement this philosophy was Ford Motors. To the delight of Ford this new way of working resulted in a substantial increase in the productivity and efficiency of their staff. Of course, this change did not go unnoticed in the market and because of Ford’s outstanding results, this encouraged other companies to follow suit and implement the same approach.

Thus, the ‘9 to 5’ of the working world as we know today was born.

Now let me ask you, do you think much has changed in the way work is done since 1914? I would hope your response is a resounding yes. Yet, strangely enough, although the world has progressed light years since 1914 the mentality of being present in a work environment from 9 to 5, 5 days a week still stands. Sounds like insanity, right?

In 2016, we live in a world that is always connected. Consumers, clients, managers and colleagues alike expect access to products, services, email responses, technical support, advice and support 24 hours a day 7 days a week. So why is it that we still have the mentality that our employees should work from 9 to 5? Does sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day really represent productivity and reflect the environment we now live in? The answer is absolutely not!

Unless you’re stuck in a time warp, the times have most definitely changed since the 1900’s. Employees of today can undeniably be productive and efficient like those at Ford in 1914, but their needs are significantly different, as should be their working arrangements. The modern worker today wants flexibility, freedom, autonomy, leadership, purpose and respect. Being told to sit at a desk all day to ensure that you can be “seen” to be working does not meet any of these needs.

An employee’s productivity today should be judged by the output they are producing, not by how many hours they are present in their working environment. The research speaks for itself and there are pages and pages of it. Organisations that have flexible performance practices have significantly higher financial performance than their competitors (WFD Consulting, 2011). Not only do these practices contribute to huge financial benefits for the company but just as importantly it results in more engaged and happier employees. To give you an idea, the benefits for both organisations and employees can include:

  • Increased coverage hours for the business (employees willing to work a huge variety of different hours to service customers)
  • Competitive edge for the companies’ recruitment and retention of staff (as it is an attractive working proposition)
  • Employees using less sick/personal leave (they have more time to schedule personal needs as part of managing their own working arrangements)
  • Decreased real estate costs (with more employees working from home – even on a rotational basis, organisations need less desk space)
  • Better management practices (results and productivity measured by outputs instead of working hours).
  • Less commute time for employees (travelling off peak times or working from home with no travel time)
  • Increased morale and feeling of control, accountability and freedom at work

So, next time you’re attempting to make your organisation more cost effective, productive, efficient and profitable spend some time looking at how you could incorporate flexibility into your workplace. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

About Suzanne Williams

Suzanne Williams is the Director and Founder of Grace and Grind Career and Lifestyle Coaching as well as a certified Executive Coach, Human Resource Specialist and Yoga Teacher.Suzanne has worked for over 10 years in corporate HR roles ranging from giving advice and guidance to frontline leaders to strategy and business planning with business owners. Suzanne’s passion is to help others find a career and lifestyle that they love while growing their confidence, leadership skills and ultimate potential.

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