The 8-hour workday was established by the Illinois Legislature in 1867, in response to the demands of the National Labor Union the previous year. After nearly 60 years of campaigning and strikes on behalf of various unions, in 1926, Ford Motor Companies adopted the 5-day, 40-hour workweek, which arguably was the start of the modern work structure in the West.
For nearly a century, the way in which we work hasn’t changed.
A New Way to Work
For many employees, the traditional workweek is giving way to flexible work arrangements. So, what is flexible working, and why is it so important?
Figure 1: 53% of people feel that they would be more productive if they could work outside the office
Flexible working means you can work any time and any place so long as you have access to Wi-Fi. In the age of digital transformation and cloud migration, flexible and remote working will eventually become more relevant than the traditional office-centric work dynamic. Studies have already shown that more than half of employees wished they were offered flexible working arrangements.
10 years ago it would have been inconceivable for someone to spend 50% of their workday in a café; or hold a conference or send an important email while tending to a new born baby. But now, with everything from BYOD, to Microsoft Exchange, to Microsoft Teams, such things are entirely possible. In fact, a business that doesn’t offer flexible work arrangements could risk losing out on serious talent.
Time is Money
The 2017 survey found that 45% of people surveyed spent over an hour a day commuting. In the same survey it was revealed that over a third of commuters feel stressed or flustered once a week. With flexible work arrangements, your commute is the time it takes to brush your teeth and make breakfast.
Figure 2: If you could work anywhere, why wouldn’t you?
Moreover, it was estimated that more than half of employed Britons spend over £1000 a year on lunch while working, with similar figures in America. On top of that, one might buy a tea or coffee on the way into the office, or a midmorning snack. These transactions may seem small, but they add up.
The time and money you could save on commuting, meal deals and flat whites is a very attractive part of flexible working.
Early bird vs. Night owl
You may also feel that the traditional working schedule does not suit your energy patterns. Most organisations value those who are most productive in the morning, and commonly perceived those who are most productive at night to be lazy.
In fact, flexible work arrangements can improve the productivity of both the former and the latter.
An early bird who is awake by 6 a.m. could access their email and calendar on Microsoft Exchange and their documents on OneDrive and start work before 9 a.m. With the same programs, a night owl could complete work days ahead of schedule by working in the evening and making sure everything is synced to the cloud.
Survival of the Fittest
Flexible working can make your organisation stronger. 73% of people surveyed said flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work, and a satisfied employee is more engaged and more committed to the organisation.
Employees that work flexibly will be more inclined to stay with an organisation if they move to a different city, or even a different country, meaning employers won’t necessarily have to find new staff.
Conversely, flexible working also allows you to recruit new employees regardless of their location.