Welcome to the future of work – Is the 9 to 5 a thing of the past?

ClockWhen I was a child I remember reading a brilliant article about how the world of work would change in the future. It confidently predicted that by 2020 we would all have intelligent robots that would look after our daily chores and that because of computers we would only need to work 10 hours a week. I was very impressed at the time and pictured a lovely world of lot’s of free time to do whatever I wanted. Unfortunately I still seem to be working a lot and the promised robot filled utopia is just 6 years away. I am beginning to think that article may have been wrong. 

After years of working in the employment sector, where we have been privileged to help candidates and employers make sure the right person is in the right role, we have seen a lot of speculation and confident predictions about how things will change for workers and employers.  There has been a lot of speculation and chatter recently about flexible working, teleworking and other non-traditional employment patterns. In fact recently new legislation came into place that encouraged this kind of working arrangement. It would seem even the government want us to be more flexible. At the moment the talk seems to be all about the end of 9 – 5 working.

Let’s define a couple of terms. Teleworking is basically working from home and only visiting the workplace when needed. Flexible working, or flexi-time as it is sometimes called, is working in a workplace but during hours that are most convenient for the employer and employee. Clearly teleworking is not suitable for some roles but flexible working is often quite possible and everyone now has the right to request it.

So does this make the 9 – 5 working day a thing of the past? In all honesty we doubt that it will go that far. There is a culture of working patterns to be considered for a start. Many sectors such as retail, finance, education and so on, are fixed into a pattern that suites the industry and the customers that use it. We simply cannot expect that to change. Other industries such as medical, entertainment and hospitality for example have always had a working pattern that required something approaching 24/7 working. Factory and warehouse workers are also used to the idea of the shift system.

That is not to say that you should not expect change from the new legislation or that flexible working is not going to be a part of our working world. It most certainly is and workers and employers could clearly benefit from a well considered working practice policy. If variable working hours suits the employee and the employer then sticking to the 9 – 5 because ‘it is how things are done’ seems a little old fashioned.

I am still holding out for my robots as promised in that article from my childhood but I doubt they will arrive. The nearest thing I have is a robot vacuum cleaner which keeps bumping into things and falling down the stairs. It is probably the same with the chatter about the end of 9 – 5. There is a change coming but what the impact of that will be is yet to be seen.

For the moment we think the 9 – 5 will survive a few more years but that said, change is in the air and we all need to be a little more flexible about things.

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11Sep2014