Is the 9-5 finally over? So what’s next?

In November 1967, the Gastonia Gazette ran an article predicting the future of working life. It proposed that by 2020, “on-the-job hours may have dwindled to 26 [per week], or even 16”. Oh how we laugh.

But even though we may not have achieved such optimistic levels of downtime as predicted in 1967, the coronavirus pandemic may have changed the landscape of the working world forever. Namely, the possible end of the 9 to 5 and the ‘death’ of the traditional daily commute. Could the 9 to 5 really be a relic of the past? And if so, what’s next?

The end of the traditional 9 to 5

When lockdown first came into play in March 2020, businesses across the UK scrambled to implement digital infrastructure that would allow employees to work from home en masse. In their droves, organisations who traditionally previously discouraged working from home were now finding their employees maintaining their great performance. When lockdown was lifted, many firms implemented flexible start and finish times so that staff didn’t have to commute in the busiest hours, limiting their person-to-person contact.

Now we are in the midst of unknowns – national lockdown measures, frequent local lockdowns, self-isolations and ever-changing guidance – it’s easier for employers and employees to simply maintain this flexible approach.

As this becomes the ‘new normal’, candidates will likely demand this level of flexibility permanently from employers; and it could impact your ability to hire great talent if you assume this is only a short-term measure.

But the role of the office is not gone – just changed

With traditional working patterns gone, what does this mean for the humble office? Good news – many people do still want to come into work for social and collaborative purposes. A study published by FinderUK found that 30% of remote workers say they struggle with loneliness. It seems likely then that the office will become a meeting space for teams to interact and come up with new ideas, rather than a location you’re expected to work from each and every day.

What happens next?

With less people in the office, many businesses will likely look to reduce or redesign their office space, favouring more collaborative areas. Some firms may abandon the traditional office environment altogether and instead make the use of ‘coworking spaces’ – communal offices where rooms or areas are rented out as needed.

As previously mentioned, flexibility with regards to location and hours will likely become an expectation rather than a perk for job seekers – at least for white collar workers. Even those who must come into physical workplaces in order to do their jobs may expect a greater degree of flexibility than they previously had.

The important thing to remember is that different industries and regions will recover at different times, and many will be challenged with multiple peaks and troughs as regulations change. Employees will remember how they were treated during this time, so focus on providing as much stability and reassurance as you can to your staff – and they will likely reward this with increased loyalty.

If you’re looking for support in understanding your resourcing needs during this uncertain time, Optimum Recruitment can offer you independent and unbiased support. Please get in touch  to see how we could help.












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