Back in 1890, it wasn’t uncommon for manufacturing employees to work 100 hours each week — more than 14 hours a day. That left a measly 10 hours to commute to your job, take a shower, eat, spend time with your family, and sleep. It’s no surprise workers began to protest.
Today, working conditions are much cushier in comparison, with full-time employees working an average of 8.56 hours each day. However, that doesn’t mean we have to settle, especially with the rigid guidelines of the 9-5 job lifestyle. In some cases, the standard workday doesn’t even make sense.
1. You’re Not As Productive
Not everyone is at peak productivity in the morning. We all have a different chronotype, a sleep time preference that determines what time of day our energy levels are most heightened.
Most people fall within two categories: morning types and evening types. Studies show your chronotype is linked to genetics, meaning it’s not easily altered.
If you want to be more productive, adjust your work schedule to coincide with your body’s natural rhythm rather than fight it. If you naturally prefer to wake up at 10 a.m., change your schedule to work 11-to-seven. The goal is to determine when you feel most active and plan your schedule accordingly.
2. You’re Always Being Monitored
Employees want to make a good impression on the boss, meaning they’re the first in the office and the last out. However, this constant monitoring also creates unnecessary pressure. Workers may feel they’re being judged or condemned for taking a 15-minute break or grabbing a granola bar. With a flexible deadline, employees show higher rates of engagement and retention.
People who come and go as they please still hit deadlines and produce a high-quality end-product, but now they have an avenue for finding a work-life balance they can be satisfied with. Parents can spend time with kids, digital nomads can travel the world, and students can focus on school.
3. You Can’t Always Take Breaks
Most workers don’t have the freedom to take a breather whenever they feel like it. Employers aren’t required to give you snack breaks or 15 minutes to spend in the sun, and the average American only takes 36 minutes away from work for lunch. That’s a short amount of time to relax and recharge.
A flexible schedule that breaks away from the 9-to-5, like remote work, allows employees to allocate break time the way they want. If you feel tired or unable to concentrate, you can step away from your computer and focus on yourself. Maybe you want to take a bicycle ride and boost your energy, or perhaps you want twenty minutes for a much-needed power nap.
4. You Don’t Need to Be There
Many 9-to-5 jobs are structured on the idea that all employees need to be in the same building at the same time to complete tasks. You gather in meeting rooms and work together to hammer out solutions. However, a well-intentioned meeting can do more harm than good, acting as a distraction and time-sink. Most work can now be accomplished without employees physically stepping foot in the office.
Employees collaborate remotely and across time zones with digital tools like email, text chat, video conferencing, and cloud-based document sharing. These communication methods are easy to utilize and more efficient than searching for a manager in a busy office building.
5. Your Brain Can’t Focus That Long
If you’re working the standard 9-5 job, you’re spending eight hours of your day in the workplace. Are you taking advantage of those hours as much as possible? Probably not. According to research, employees spend the majority of the workday on nonproductive tasks like checking email, reading news articles, and chatting with co-workers.
It’s not our faults — it’s simply not how we are wired to perform. Our brains can only focus for a few hours at a time, with the average employee working for just two hours and 53 minutes out of an eight-hour workday. One employer found that cutting hours to 32 per week led to happier and more productive staff.
An End to the Standard Workday?
Breaking away from the standard 9-5 job comes with a lot of benefits. Not only are employees happier and better able to achieve a work-life balance, but they can also boost productivity and complete more work in a shorter amount of time.
While some office-based employers allow workers this type of flexibility, many are seeking remote work options to accommodate their needs. According to one study, 3.9 million Americans work from home half of the time. That number is only expected to increase as more people realize the benefits of breaking out of the 9-5 lifestyle.