Research suggests that ‘standard’ working hours won’t exist in 25 years

The standard ‘9 to 5’ working day will be a distant memory in 25 years. The emergence of truly global markets will mean that working hours become more flexible and more employees will be required to work through the night.

This is according to new research from Office Angels, the leading office recruitment agency, to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The study explores the likely evolution of working practices and culture within the UK over the next 25 years.

Working routines are predicted to change dramatically; almost two thirds (65%) of employees believe that working hours will become far more flexible and over half (53%) predict that standard working hours will be a thing of the past altogether. Almost three quarters (71%) of workers believe that an increasing number of people will work from home in 2036, thanks to new technologies such as cloud computing, smart phones and video conferencing. The survey also shows that workers expect job shares and multiple careers to be commonplace by 2036. This has huge implications for employers, in terms of managing a disparate workforce and in maintaining levels of engagement with staff.

Almost half (48%) of employees surveyed, predict that employees will even have to work through the night, thanks to an increase in working across global markets. Whilst this will present challenges for both employers and employees, this new flexibility in working hours may well have significant advantages for those currently struggling to balance family responsibilities with those of their job. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some workers (35%) predict that this ‘always on’ working culture will lead to increased levels of stress, with longer working hours and the constant accessibility afforded by new communication devices, like smart phones, leading to heightened pressure and tighter deadlines.

David Clubb, managing director of Office Angels, said, “Standard working hours are already dying out, with many employers expecting staff to be ‘online’ and available outside of standard office hours. At the same time, there is a huge push amongst many employees for better work-life balance. It’s a very fine balance but what this survey tells us is that there is a real appetite for more flexible ways of working. Rather than seeing this as a nuisance or threat, employers need to consider the benefits of flexible working, such as reduced fixed costs, increased goodwill amongst existing staff and the widening of the talent pool from which the organisation can attract candidates.

“However, there are obvious challenges to implementing a successful flexible working policy and culture within an organisation. It requires very careful planning and investment to ensure that staff have the right technology and tools to work remotely. We are advising forward thinking companies to recognise that flexible working is the future and that businesses need to define and implement their strategies now in order to retain and attract the very best talent.”

Respondents in the survey also predicted that over a third of employees (36%) expect more people to job share in 2036, leading to increased freedom in working hours, whether through flexi-time, term-time, or part-time working. Almost half of workers (48%) predict that “jobs for life” will be a thing of the past; workers will have a series of careers, with new skills being learnt on a continual basis.
On the back of this research, Office Angles is offering advice to businesses on the advantages, practicalities and challenges of implementing flexible working across their organisations.