The traditional 9 to 5 workweek originated when Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, implemented a five-day, 40-hour schedule for his employees. It was the beginning of what’s become the normal routine for the majority of people around the world.
However, employees and organizations alike are realizing the outdated nature of this structure and waking up to the countless advantages of more flexible working arrangements.
So what are the alternatives, and is it time to start negotiating your way out of the 9 to 5 grind?
6 alternative arrangements to the 9 to 5 workweek
In today’s digital economy, 9 to 5 and facetime culture simply isn’t necessary for organizations to succeed and employees to remain satisfied in a modern work structure.
Here are some ways companies can rethink their working arrangements to remain competitive and attract and retain talent while improving life for their employees.
1. 40 hours a week spread over 4 days
The simplest alternative to the 9 to 5 working week, this model means employees work 40 hours spread over four days, typically working 10 hours each day.
This means organizations can access the same amount of labor and employees have the benefit of a three-day weekend - and more time to do the things they love.
The four-day workweek has gained a lot of traction over the past few years and businesses that have adopted this model consistently report positive results.
Recent research carried out by Henley Business School found that companies that adopted the four-day work week reported that staff were happier, less stressed and took fewer sick days. What’s more, 63% of businesses agree that providing a four-day work week has helped them to attract and retain talent.
2. 32 hours, 4-day workweek
With this version of the four-day workweek, employees remain on the clock for eight hours each day and are expected to get the same amount of work done in a shorter period of time.
This model is based on the notion that 40 hours a week isn’t necessary and that people work better when they have a better work-life balance.
Many people would prefer to work more productively in a shorter period of time if they have the perk of an additional day off each week.
Telecommuting is when employees work remotely on a predetermined basis, whether that’s every day of the week or a select few.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, when working from home became the norm, telecommuting has quickly become a standard choice for many organizations. Despite the sudden switch to remote working, 83% of employers agreed that the shift had been successful for their company, according to research by PwC.
Moving forward, many employers continue to embrace remote or hybrid working models. The numerous benefits of telecommuting include:
- Less time and money spent commuting
- Better work-life balance
- Increased flexibility
- Productivity gains for employers
- Business cost savings (on office space, hardware requirements, etc.)
Flextime is a flexible work arrangement that enables employees to schedule their working hours around their individual needs - allowing them to choose when they start and finish.
With this model, individuals can better manage other commitments, such as childcare and hobbies outside of work. It also means they can choose the time they go to work to avoid rush hours.
The main benefit of flextime for employees is that they have the freedom and flexibility to better manage their time. This leads to more satisfied employees, improved productivity levels and better staff retention for companies.
5. Annualized hours
Offering annualized hours means that employees are required to work a set number of hours each year, but it’s up to them to organize their own schedules.
This approach can benefit people who need to manage other arrangements alongside their job, such as school or university, childcare, caretaking or other commitments.
6. Set responsibilities without set hours
Perhaps the most extreme departure from the traditional workweek, this approach would completely remove the element of having set hours or days.
Although this arrangement hasn’t taken off yet due to its radical nature and the variables that need to be considered, it would allow workers much more freedom in choosing when they work.
Workplaces would need to set clear expectations before leaving it up to employees to get the work done. It goes without saying that this working model requires employees and employers to be extremely diligent when it comes to time and task management.
Is it time to embrace alternative workweek arrangements?
A profound reimagining of the 9 to 5 workweek is underway, and although it’s unlikely that the world will see a complete departure from the office, companies are certainly paying more attention to the tangible benefits of other options.
Moving forward, we’re likely to see further shifts away from the outdated working model towards arrangements that are mutually beneficial for employers and employees.