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We look at an alternative to the 9 to 5

Some workplaces have already adapted to new social distancing requirements. For many, it may be a while before the office is full again. The workers who have adapted to working from kitchen tables or garden sheds are asking themselves if they want to return to an office? Will the 9 to 5 still have a place?

Dolly Parton wasn’t too impressed with working 9 to 5, and she may have been onto something. We look at the benefits of flexible working and whether the 9 to 5 will still have a place.

Does 9 to 5 mean in an office?

Clearly there are many professions that don’t tick the 9 to 5 schedule. Delivery drivers, those who work in the emergency services and hospitality roles, for example. However, if you work in an office, there is a high chance that your ‘normal’ working hours will be 9 to 5.

It’s also likely that those hours will be in an office rather than at your own home. Does working from home mean the end of the 9 to 5 or do old habits die hard? Flexible working is likely to reduce the need for offices big enough to hold all staff all of the time. So, perhaps the 9 to 5 will continue but the tie to certain bricks and mortar will end.

Increased flexibility – by giving up the commute to an office, you gain more time. That time could be spent working or gardening or exercising. If you feel productive at 7.30 in the morning, you can start work. You might take a few breaks and then finish up at 3.30.

But you may have other commitments which mean you don’t start work until 12. You’ll then work through until 7pm. It’s about finding the time that works best for you. If you have to fit work in around looking after children or vulnerable friends or relatives, flexibility gives you options. That can then reduce anxiety and stress related to work.

What will employees want?

There are many benefits for employees who work more flexibly:

  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced stress (Less time sitting in cars buring fuel clogging up our congested roads!)
  • More time to focus on other skills or interests.
  • More time with friends and family.

The right to choose – for some people, working 9 to 5 in the office works just fine. They don’t want to work from home or condense or reduce their hours. And that’s their choice. But to know you have the opportunity to request a change is important.

Leadership showing the way – If something is fairly new in the workplace, it needs those in leadership to take the lead. If your boss works flexibly, you’re more likely to feel comfortable with it.

A fair system – Flexible working can sometimes feel like working hours for those with children. That’s one stigma that needs to change. It should be flexible working for people. Everyone should have the same opportunity to work flexibly otherwise it won’t work.

The right provisions – Working from home long-term needs some investment. It’s important to have a good chair, the right set up for your computer etc. This could mean that staff and employers work together to provide suitable equipment.

No Big Brother – It’s a change for many businesses to not have all their staff in an office. You have to place trust that people are working as they say they are. People don’t want to feel watched or micromanaged though. Their work and performance should speak for itself.

Considerations for employers

Research by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, found that when the UK Government first advised people to work from home, 52% of SME owners felt positive about staff working remotely. Some weeks later, those SME owners were asked again, and the figure was 75%. It’s positive to see that an enforced change of behaviour has had a positive impact on flexible working. It’s probably too early to know if the 9 to 5 will still have a place though.

Productivity levels – Flexible working has been proven to increase productivity rather than cut it. Adopting a flexible work policy can also:

  • Help to attract top talent and retain them.
  • Reduce the amount of sick days lost.
  • Attract additional clients who also buy in to flexible working.
  • Reduce your overhead costs.

But what about company culture? – The culture of a business is really important. So, how do you make sure that your team feel engaged with the business if they’re not doing the 9 to 5? Can technology help maintain team spirit, help you get to know your colleagues and allow for office chat?

Can I afford to offer a flexible working policy? – Having people working less than five days a week or working from a different location needs to be considered, for sure. Speak to your accountant about your plans. They’ll be able to talk you through the costs and savings of flexible working. What it means for your payroll and your taxes.

Consistency – Always be fair to your employees and consistent with what you allow. Every employee in the UK has the right to apply for flexible working after 26 weeks of employment. Seek HR and legal support to make sure that your staff and your business are being treated fairly.

For more practical advice and business insights, you can follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Avatar for Liz Cordell
About Liz Cordell

I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.

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