Oct 20, 2022 - Economy

Time to ditch the 9-to-5 workday

Illustration of a caged origami bird folded from a weekly time card

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The business world thinks about post-pandemic flexibility as the ability to choose where we work. But being able to to choose when we work may be far more important.

Stunning stat: Employees with flexible schedules report 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than those with set hours, according to the Slack Future Forum's latest research, which surveyed more than 10,000 desk workers around the world.

  • Place also matters, but not nearly as much as time. Workers who chose where they worked were 4% more productive than their fully in-person counterparts.

What's happening: Work-whenever has allowed many types of workers to boost their productivity — including parents, who make up around a third of the U.S. workforce.

  • And while the 9-to-5 schedule favors the early birds, time flexibility allows night owls to work during their sharpest hours.

Reality check: Workers are almost universally in favor of flexibility when it comes to where and when they work. But executives disagree — and they're calling employees back to the office.

  • A recent Microsoft Work Trends report found that 85% of leaders don't feel confident that their employees are working hard from home.
  • And as executives face resistance in the effort to revive in-person, 9-to-5 work, their stress and anxiety levels are up 40% in the last year, Future Forum found.
  • "Executives don't feel like they have a pulse on their organizations because they can't engage in 'management by walking around,'" says Brian Elliott, SVP at Slack and executive leader of Future Forum.

What to watch: The labor market remains hot, and if companies take away flexibility, their workers can walk and look for new jobs. Employees who can't set their own hours are twice as likely to look for new jobs as those who can, per Future Forum.

  • But the power balance may shift to employers when the market cools down.
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