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RIP 9 to 5

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USA Today recently reported on its top 2012 business trends. To my great surprise and overwhelming joy, the “death of the 9 to 5″ was a prominent item on the list. Cited for obvious reasons – the proliferation of mobile devices, laptops and wireless connectivity – which a mainstream audience could comprehend, the report failed to underscore the true value of what it means to lay the traditional 9 to 5 to rest and what challenges may lay in its path.

Greater productivity, creativity and physical and mental well-being come to mind immediately; anyone who currently workshifts can certainly attest to one or all of these benefits. But I cannot help focusing on how the mainstream needs to change to make workshifting more commonplace.

For the most part, organizations are wary of workshifters. They save this “special arrangement” for unique situations, which, in my mind, only serves to exacerbate the bias. Instead, organizations who dare to allow some (if not all employees) to workshift should examine the methods, processes and upsides of the workshifting minority and slowly begin to infiltrate the practice and the technology into the greater employee population.

I recently worked on a proposal with a senior level manager at Citrix. We were able to arrange an off-site meeting on a day when he was – you guessed it – workshifting. By way of conversation, he shared with me that the practice of workshifting is not only encouraged but also enforced by the organization, ensuring that employees “walk the walk” and utilize the technology upon which the company’s mission is built. Now, that makes sense since Citrix strongly supports “powering the virtual workforce” – their technology is available for all to adopt, collaborate and then transform their organizations with!

According to Citrix CEO, Mark Templeton, “Three simple words are changing the world: whatever, whenever, wherever.” Amen to that and to the death of the 9 to 5.

Photo Credit: kitch

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Natalya Sabga is a project management professional and operational efficiency expert turned author, consultant and executive education advisor. Fascinated by the study of human behavior, she has parlayed this into a successful writing career. Ms. Sabga is also the author of "From Secretary to CEO: A Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder Without Losing Your Identity" (2010). She is also the President of DNterprises, LLC - a firm specializing in project needs' analysis, and project management from implementation to operation. Ms. Sabga is currently working on her next non-fiction narrative, "A PMP's Guide to Project Managing Your Life," and authoring the blog 'ASK N'.
  • http://www.freedomvoice.com/ Peter Hales

    Great article. It’s good to see companies “practice what they preach” but there is still a stigma out there that workshifting is less productive. Perhaps with increased fuel prices and as boomers grow older, workshifting will pick up more steam and lose the stigma.

    • Natalya I. Sabga

      Peter – I could not agree more about the “stigma”, and it is so counter-intuitive and counter-productive! We can continue to wish and hope and demonstrate that workshifting does not equal lower productivity, but rather just the opposite!

  • http://www.odysen.com/ Matt

    I think a lot of it stems from a general loss of control and all the issues that come with it.  From the employers side, not having the person at their every whim can be something they see as negative.  For  some employees, having your work evaluated for something other than face time can also be an unwelcome change. 

    Eventually, it seems people just perform better with less distractions and as the workplace is usually loaded with distractions (un-needed meetings), it’ll probably always be less productive than when the employee has more control over their time.

    Of course, there’s always exceptions, needing to work in specific locations, access to equipment, etc, but it seems a trend that’s definitely growing roots.