The history of the traditional 9 to 5 work schedule can be traced back to the 1920s when Ford Motors popularized this work model.
A little over a century later, companies are finally making updates after the pandemic gave employees an opportunity to create a schedule that suited their needs.
Some took this as a chance to log on earlier in the day to accommodate midday appointments, while others realized their peak productivity happened in the evenings once their kids were in bed.
Flexibility has become one of the biggest trends to emerge from the last two years, with leaders realizing the benefits of providing staff with more freedom.
“We’re all wired differently,” said Alexa von Tobel, founder and managing partner of Inspired Capital. “Some people are morning people, some are night people. Some need quiet, some need energy. Now there is more of an opt-in, choose-your-own-work style, rather than everyone having to sit in a bright office.”
While flexibility will inevitably play a significant role in the future of work, it will require agility from the perspective of business leaders so all employees can reap the benefits of this arrangement.
This is particularly true for knowledge and office workers, who argue that a traditional 9 to 5 makes no sense since much of their work is done online. According to Slack’s Future Forum survey, 95% of knowledge workers said they want flexibility in their schedule.
For example, cloud software firm Salesforce recently introduced a flexible schedule that does not require employees in the office everyday nor an eight-hour schedule.
“For us, the nine-to-five was on life support before the pandemic,” said Steve Pickle, EVP of employee success operations at Salesforce. “The pandemic took it off life support and put it right into the grave. It’s still dead, and we’re in a far better place.”
However, flexibility will need to extend beyond schedules. Dawna Ballard, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says that flexibility should apply to company culture as a whole.
Adopting an asynchronous approach will be key here, meaning that companies need to invest into communication tools that help workers stay in contact without physically being together five days a week.