Is Working 9-5 Over and Done? And What Does The New Workday Look Like?

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For many years, and by many years we're talking about nearly a century, being productive at work meant being physically present in the workplace for 40 hours or more each week. In previous years, the more hours spent at their place of employment, the more productive people appeared to be, but does working longer hours equate to productivity, or does it simply lead to burnout and resentment?

Some people love having a set schedule. It adds just the right amount of structure to their lives. For them, working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. may be all they have ever known, so the thought of anything different may not feel "normal." It may be the quiet workspace away from home, the inevitable social time spent talking to coworkers, the feeling of being productive in a place other than home, or the overall routine that working a typical 9-5 provides.

While some people thrive on having a structured workday, others find themselves twiddling their thumbs by lunchtime and waiting for the moment when they get to race to the time clock and head home. For these employees, complaints related to working 9-5 range from the temperature being too cold or hot to not having enough windows and natural lighting. The list goes on.

Working 9-5 certainly has pros and cons, and regardless of a person's opinion on the subject, families face some definite considerations when working this schedule. Single parents often feel the pressure of finding adequate and reliable care for their children. There will always be inevitable issues with school closures, late babysitters, or worse, unexpected calls from the nurse's office requesting to have their child picked up immediately. Two-parent households also face these issues and often find themselves deciding which parent can afford to call out without later finding themselves in the boss's office getting reprimanded for calling out yet again.

Other issues related to working 9-5 include, but are not limited to, long commutes and traffic, which can extend the workday well beyond the scheduled eight hours. Let's not forget about burnout and fatigue, which can lead to stress, depression, and a host of other mental health issues. So, what is the solution when both employers and employees have the same goal: to arrive fully rested, present, and productive? Is it working fewer hours per day or week? Could it be shorter workweeks? 

The last year and a half have proven that drastic changes in the workplace can be made and at rapid speeds. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when businesses needed to shut down without notice and had to restructure business operations completely, we learned just how adaptable we as people could be. Organizations underwent massive changes to keep from closing down, and positions that seemed impossible to complete remotely quickly became remote positions. Sure, there were kinks, but many businesses really showed how well they could adapt to change.

With these changes came new findings and new business practices, some of which are here to stay. Businesses began to use technology in ways they had not previously done. Employers discovered new forms of communication as well as new ways to run their businesses more efficiently. It was not long before people realized that working in different environments, and at various times, was still very productive. Although there was a learning curve, these new practices became so valuable and efficient that many businesses plan to use them permanently. 

Changing the new workday to allow employees to choose hours that work best for their schedule is a great way to get people to show up well-rested and ready to work, which will lead to a more productive workday. Given the option, parents may choose to work split shifts completing some of their work at dawn while their children are still asleep and then returning later while their children are in school, hoping for fewer distractions and leading to a more productive day. And because the latest technology allows for easy, immediate, and effective communication and can even alert employees to the priority level of their assignments, not being in the office or not having a restrictive schedule from 9-5 could potentially not affect a person's productivity level.