Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest. - Robert Owen, 1817
This was 200 years ago. The 9 to 5 grind, as we all know it, was born in the industrial era where most of the working class were in factory jobs.
The revolution led to the regulation of working hours, reducing child labor and implementing minimum wages; which is great, but many things about how we work have changed since then, and unfortunately the framework has not kept up with the changes.
It's no secret that a major shift in the way we work is currently taking place. Remote work is increasing in demand and more people than ever are deciding to settle in rural areas or in developing countries where cost of living is cheaper and the quality of life is higher.
The rise of well paid jobs in creative fields is the main driving factor in this shift. High leverage work where the amount of hours worked is not proportional to the impact that you can have.
Creative work is on the rise
It's true that robots are eliminating jobs at a very high rate, but most of the jobs are boring and menial, jobs that no one wants to do. New creative jobs are being created at the same rate and artificial intelligence will not be able to perform these any time soon.
Sometimes we tend to limit creative work in terms of the arts, but any kind of work where you need to do creative thinking and development of ideas can be considered creative work.
In this context, I like to define creative work as the kind of work that cannot be performed by a machine. Work that requires real human thinking.
In most of these new jobs, having a fixed schedule or a place where you need commute daily to perform the work is pointless and it doesn't add any value whatsoever. This is the case of new jobs like e-sports players, streamers, youtubers or podcast hosts; but it also applies to existing fields like customer service, marketing or software development.
Creative jobs like these need to allow breathing space for deep work to take place and, most of the time, a 9 to 5 office schedule inhibits this process.
Companies that move away from this outdated model have a very clear advantage to hire the best talent.
What can you do as an employer
Some people are night owls, some are early birds and there are people in between. That's just a fact. Having that flexibility to start and end work when you want is a must.
What difference does it make being at a desk at 7am or 9am, as long as you deliver on your responsibilities. Deadlines can exist, but that is no excuse for forcing a fixed working schedule.
Working less hours has been proved again and again to increase employees productivity and overall happiness.
Working from home
Sometimes you just need to get away from the office to find a quiet place to do your work, this should be allowed and encouraged.
I'd go as far to say that working from home should be the norm and working in the office, the exception.
Having face time with your team, even if it has to be in an office is totally compatible with this, it's just a logistics problem.
We should develop a culture that promotes taking a break to recharge instead of working to the point of burnout.
The fear that employees will slack off is unsubstantiated, they should be treated like the responsible adults that they are. Companies should implement a good policy to track and approve holidays, work shouldn't get in the way of employees from spending time with their loved ones or taking a break.
Prefer asynchronous over synchronous communication
Has it ever happened to you that you're working away on something and someone interrupts you for a "quick question"? that quick question that you spent a minute answering will most probably make you lose your train of thought and require you another 30 minutes to properly refocus on what you were doing.
This happens a lot more often than we think, and most of the time don't realize the effect it has on our productivity.
Synchronous communication is when we communicate in real time and both parties are waiting for each others response. Talking in person is a form of synchronous communication, as are tools like Slack if you decide to reply to all messages immediately.
The perfect example of asynchronous communication is email. You send an email and carry on with your work, and when you receive one you'll get to it when you're finished with what you're doing, allowing you to work uninterrupted. This also means that there's more thought behind each reply, making communication flow better.
Stop the hour counting culture
Find a better way to measure performance other than counting the hours sat down in front of the computer. Long hours or starting work earlier doesn't necessarily mean employees are productive.
Why we started SanerJobs
We want companies to put a bigger focus on the well-being of employees and showcase this effort to attract the best talent they can. Coffee is a standard offering, ping pong and consoles don't add value but benefits that aid a good work-life balance will entice the best talent to join you.
Saner Jobs is a new job board featuring flexible job offers that put pride in well thought out job descriptions and benefits for potential new employees. Each job post is given a work-life balance score to emphasize the importance of quality to both employers and job hunters.
The scoring takes into account the working hours offered and key benefits that support employee well-being which include health insurance, holiday time, flexibility, employee training and more. Get started on your search for remote specific jobs or roles in marketing, design, software development or finance.