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It’s amazing to me that what I (and many others) have talked about for over the past decade is finally becoming reality.

That reality is the end of the 9-to-5 workday.

This became news recently when Salesforce announced that it was not requiring employees to work from an office anymore and instead it was offering three new options which are flex (1–3 days per week), fully remote, and office based.

By the way… some companies like Microsoft, UnitedHealth Group, Cisco, and others, have been operating like this for many years, but hey, if more companies are willing to embrace flexible work I’m all for it!

When you consider the various advancements and achievements of humans over the past 10 20 years (such as genome sequencing, smartphones, social media platforms, space exploration, driverless cars, AI and automation, etc) the idea that a human being has to be in an office from 9–5 each day so that they can “work” is such an outdated concept that it’s laughable.

“You’re telling me that I have to sit in this little box for 8 hours each day to work and meanwhile we are out there exploring Mars?”

It almost sounds like a joke that a comedian would share on stage doesn’t it?

All it took was a global pandemic to get leaders around the world to realize that maybe this 9-5 workday thing is a bit outdated.

Most people don’t realize that this idea of working 40 hours a week came from Henry Ford in 1926. Prior to that, people who worked in manual labor jobs actually worked longer 10-12 hour days. We’re talking about a practice that is almost 100 years old!

While we’re at it, let me also state work-life balance is also dead. This idea went hand-in-hand with working 9-5 and implied that anything before 9am or after 5pm was personal time and that anything between 9-5 was considered work time. We are all seeing and experiencing first-hand that work is integrating into life and life is integrating work. These things don’t fit into neat little buckets anymore nor should they.

Why can’t a grown human being decide to work a few hours in the morning, then take some time to exercise, spend time with their kids, and relax before finishing up what they need to get done later on in the day or evening?

Of course, we all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people around the world to turn to virtual work and thankfully we had the infrastructure and the technologies in place to support this shift.

But!

Let’s Clarify What The Death Of The 9-to-5 Workday Actually Means
Does it meant that offices are going to vanish and that we are all going to work from homes, coffee shops, or even co-working spots for the foreseeable future? Nope! In fact, people said that many years ago and it never happened.

The end of working 9-to-5 is not the same thing as the end of in-person work. I don’t think offices are going to disappear…not even close.

I still believe in the value of in-person interaction for collaboration, innovation, team-building, trust, psychological safety, growth, and development. As great as technology is, it’s not quite the same as being with someone face-to-face. But do we need to do this for 8 hours a day between 9-5? Nope!

This shift means that organizations around the world are going to become more flexible in nature. Meaning work will be embraced as something you do, not as a place you go to. I think this is rather exciting for all of us.

Maybe you will work a few hours a week from the office each afternoon, perhaps you will work 3 days a week from the office in 12-hour shifts, who knows…maybe you will decide you love working from an office and you want to continue to work there 5 days a week.

Flexible work means exactly that…being open-minded about when and where we work.

There’s A Dark Side
Technology and our ability to always be connected is what is allowing flexible work to become a reality but being connected doesn’t mean being available, and that’s a key distinction we need to make otherwise we will all end up working 16 hours a day and burning out.

It’s going to be crucial for leaders to encourage employees to create boundaries and for employees to actually create them. Just because you wake up at 5am and go to bed at 11pm doesn’t mean you need to be working from 5am-11pm even if you are connected!

The great thing about flexible work is that it allows for more control, equality, engagement, productivity, and flexibility BUT it only allows these things if we can create boundaries which is something most people struggle with.

I’m optimistic about the future of work and I hope we see more organizations around the world shift to this way of working but let’s remember that connectivity doesn’t imply availability.

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If you enjoyed the article and want more content like this here’s what you can do:

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