W Power 2024

Is it time to call time on traditional office hours?

According to a Financial Technology Association survey, people are no longer happy with the '9 to 5'. The rise of remote working has a lot to do with this, as does the intensification of the pace of work

Published: Mar 23, 2024 08:39:08 AM IST
Updated: Mar 22, 2024 06:46:00 PM IST

Is it time to call time on traditional office hours?More and more people are working atypical hours, including weekday evenings and weekends. Image: Shutterstock

A few decades ago, Dolly Parton sang about a life working classic office hours in her song "9 to 5." But those days are long gone. According to an American survey, many working people find that these hours no longer correspond to their work patterns.

In fact, 57% of Americans surveyed by the Financial Technology Association* feel that traditional office hours don't work for them. This is due to the fact that more and more people are working atypical hours, such as weekday evenings and weekends.

The rise of remote working has a lot to do with this, as does the intensification of the pace of work. Employees are increasingly complaining that their workload does not allow them to carry out their professional duties during office hours, fuelling a feeling of permanent pressure and cognitive overload.

The phenomenon is such that 51% of respondents say that a lack of flexibility in working hours is an old-fashioned outlook. They would like more flexibility in their work and meeting schedules, to strike a better balance between personal and professional obligations. That's why they tend to express a keen interest in various kinds of work-time adjustments, including the four-day week and asynchronous working.

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Time to embrace chronoworking?

Employers would do well to take greater account of their employees' time preferences to help them become more productive. After all, not all employees are efficient at the same time of day. Early risers are generally more efficient at the start of the day, but their performance declines as the day goes by. Conversely, "evening" people often struggle to get up to go to the office or start their day working from home. They are at their best later in the day, which theoretically makes them less suited to standard working life.

At least, that's what Finnish researchers suggest in a paper, published in 2021 in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. They found that evening people perform half as well at work as their more morning-friendly counterparts. And this held true regardless of their gender, their usual sleep time or even their working hours.

Voices are now being raised, calling on the world of work to rethink organizational modes in relation to flexibility and, more generally, quality of life. Chronoworking is one such approach. A contraction of "chrono" -- the Latin for "time" -- and "work," chronoworking is the practice of adapting employees' work patterns to suit their individual biological clocks. All of which makes traditional office working hours seem even more obsolete.

*This survey was carried out by OnePoll, on behalf of the Financial Technology Association, among 2,000 US employees. Data was collected online between February 23 and 29, 2024.

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