Pros vs Cons of the 9-5: A history of the work week.

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Is the traditional work week obsolete? Technological and social changes are driving people away from rigid 9 to 5 work arrangements and toward more flexible schedules. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data has shown that the number of full time positions in Australia has decreased by around 45,000, while part-time employment numbers have increased by more than 71,000. What does this mean for companies and employees, and is the traditional full-time work structure history?  

Origin Of The 9 To 5

9 to 5 vs flexibility - is the work week history?The idea of the 8 hour work day was first conceived in the 18th century, when 16+ hour work days were the norm. Unfortunately for factory workers during the industrial revolution, the 8 hour work day was not made into practice until much later, when Henry Ford pioneered the idea in his Ford Motor Company factories. To everyone’s surprise, Ford’s factory doubled profits off the back of the changes, prompting many others to follow suit.  

So, the 40 hour work week came to fruition to support factory productivity (with the workers enjoying the benefit of work/life balance purely as a collateral) and has remained largely unchanged for decades. The question, however, is whether the 9 – 5 day still conducive to productivity in the modern world?

The 40 hour work week came to fruition to support factory productivity – with the workers enjoying the benefit of work/life balance purely as a collateral.

Problems With The 9 To 5

Bums in seats in no way guarantee actual work will be done. Instead, there is evidence that a stunning amount of time is wasted at work, perhaps, in part, because people are not able to be productive in 8 hour durations.

In fact, one prominent neuroscientist argues that people are only able to focus on work for 90 minutes at a time. According to Nathaniel Kleitman, our brains function in ultradian cycles that involve alternating periods of high-frequency brain activity (about 90 minutes) followed by lower-frequency brain activity (about 20 minutes). Therefore, if we are interested in maximising productivity (and quality of work) the rigid 9 to 5 may not be optimal.

One prominent neuroscientist argues that people are only able to focus on work for 90 minutes at a time.

Companies Leading The Way 

9 to 5 vs flexible work. Who wins? If the 9 to 5 is outdated, then what schedule is optimal? A number of companies are conducting experiments that will have wide-reaching implications across various industries. Netflix and Virgin offer unlimited annual leave and complete freedom on how employees complete their tasks; trusting employees to manage their work and deliver on tasks. Living Social allows employees to work remotely, even allowing their Engineering Director Jessie Link to work from Hawaii. Blinds.com, the worlds largest online window covering store, allows all employees to work from home – even call centre employees! All employees experiment with remote work, to find the work schedule that works best for each individual.

Workforce Management Using Dash 

Managing resource allocation within an organisation can, at times, feel like you’re playing an intricate game of ‘Human Tetris’. You need to have the different parts positioned the right way, at the right time, to ensure you’re running as efficiently as possible and in the best position to win the game.

Dash will tell you the shape your people are in, and utilise it’s powerful placement algorithm to automatically piece them together project-by-project, with no gaps.

By dynamically managing staff competency platforms alongside project requirements, you can bust your business out of the traditional 9-5 cycle and create a culture of success based on achieving deliverables, rather than punching timecards.

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