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In the UK, working time is carefully regulated to ensure employees receive all the rights, breaks, and leaves they’re entitled to under the Working Time Directive. While this act ensures fair working hours, it also leaves room for a life outside the office. Job sharing and flexible hours are playing an increasingly larger role in the way offices are manned and managed. 9-5 office hours are no longer the expectation of the employee or the employer. Flexible working is on the rise. In fact, just 6% of workers in the UK adhere to standard office hours. The remaining 94% split their time between flexible working time, evening hours, and overnight shifts.

By 2025, the majority of the workforce will be made up of members of the Millennial generation and Generation Z. As a new generation takes over the workforce, new standards and work ethics are falling into place. As business casual replaces the three-piece suits and power suits of yesterday, a new wave of employees are redefining business hours as well. Technology is also doing its part in making the 9-5 workday a thing of the past. From email to smartphones to video conference calls to digital advancements to cloud-based software and storage, technology is closing the distance gap and making even the remotest of team members a single click or phone call away.

How Technology Is Impacting The Modern Workforce

Technology has enabled businesses of all sizes to work all over the world from a single location. This modern trend of a global business world is having an impact on the UK’s workforce. In fact, it’s leading to the death of the typical 9-5. That death knell can have one of three possible effects.

  • With non-traditional hours and increased ease of contact, it can shrink the workday down to more reasonable hours and enable individual staff members to create a more even handed work/life balance. Employees will appreciate more time with their families and more time to rest and relax. Cherry picking hours and time to enjoy a social life are likely to lead to increased productivity.
  • Conversely, invasive technology like smartphones and email can lead to an inability to disconnect from the work world. Without clear guidelines and careful self-policing, non-traditional employees can find it hard to disconnect from the demands of work. That can lead to early burnout, high employee turnover, and a decline in attention to detail.
  • The key to a successful business or corporate office is productivity. Though part of a team, each employee is an individual and their productivity will ebb and flow at different times. Allowing team members and office staff to work non-traditional hours – in and out of the office – can lead to greater productivity which leads to greater profitability.

    How Consumer Expectations Are Changing Standard Office Hours

Consumer expectations are another reason the 9-5 workday is quickly becoming a thing of the past in the UK and all over the world. Technology and the internet have created a society of consumers with 24-hour-a-day expectations. With consumers expecting 24-hour access to businesses, customer support, tech support, and office staff, a robust workforce must be continually in place to handle their needs and requests promptly. Attention spans are shorter, expectations are higher, and the norm is changing.

Society has become used to 24-hour access to big box retailers, online shops, convenience stores, and grocery stores. Even in an office setting, though, clients and potential clients expect your attention personally and immediately. Whether its tech support, delivery confirmations, or account information, office personnel is needed to support the around the clock needs of online and offline clientele.

How The Millennial And Z Generations Are Resetting The Business Clock

The Generation Z/Millennial workforce is tech and digital savvy. They’re continuing to make technological advances that will keep us connected without the need for traditional office space or hours. The moms of newer generations are finding ways to create work/life balance, maximizing maternity and family leave time, and running side businesses of their own. The demands of modern womanhood mean women are optimizing their best time management skills. They’re learning to fit work around family responsibilities, children’s activities, and office obligations.

The dad’s of today are more involved in day-to-day parenting than the fathers of generations past. They’ve even created an entire movement around the “dad lifestyle” complete with online shops and communities, comfy, emblazoned apparel, and entire blogs designed specifically for them. Men and women are committed to their friends, family, and community causes. In other words, there are a plethora of people and activities drawing on their time, and while they’re willing to work diligently, they’re starting to demand work hours that meet their expectations.

How Non-Traditional Office Hours Look

Office workers, small business owners, retail workers, and corporate executives aren’t just saying no to the traditional 9-5 workday, they’re looking for workable alternatives. One of the ways workers in the UK eschew 9am-5pm business hours is by creating their own starting and ending times that better fit their individual schedules. That means some workers might continue to appreciate the predictability of 9am-5pm, while others may opt for 8am-4pm, and others still might opt for 10am-6pm. Overnight hours like 11pm-7am are popular shifts which leave the majority of daylight hours available for other pursuits.

Just as business hours are changing, business days are also becoming a 7-day-a-week endeavor for many of the same reasons. Some employees might opt for flex time while others opt for job sharing where they split their total number of hours worked with other employees. This effectively cuts their working day in half. Other employees will work from home, work odd days on and off, and split their ours in half in a single day (for example, they’ll work four two-hour shifts per day as opposed to one eight-hour shift).

Times are changing, and business must keep up with the time. The 9-5 workday won’t last much longer, but the demands of business mean your office doesn’t have to suffer. Increased flexibility and around-the-clock accessibility are becoming the new norm. Embrace this new change and let your customers know you’re there for them on their terms.

Working in the Gig Economy by Thomas Oppong is out 3rd October, published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99.

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