How Social Media Is Helping to Kill the 9 to 5 Work Schedule
The 9 to 5 workday has been a mainstay of traditional office culture for decades, but the mainstream schedule we’ve all had ingrained in our heads since childhood is starting to disappear thanks to new technologies and looser, more casual corporate cultures.
According to Dialpad, 75 percent of employees believe that independence and flexibility contribute or would contribute positively to their own morale and productivity, and empirical research shows this is true (when comparing remote workers and traditional office employees). People have debated the merits of the 9 to 5 system since it began, questioning why it was 8 hours rather than 6 or 10, and wondering whether the block of time should be shifted or broken up—so why is the 9 to 5 schedule only now disappearing?
Some point to technologies like the portable laptop or the modern smartphone for accelerating this change, but few technologies have had as big of an influence on this cultural movement as social media.
Its standards have relaxed a bit, but Twitter’s introduction of the 140-character limit for social messaging helped to redefine how we communicate with each other. Text messages, too, have forced us to become more concise with our messages. We’ve become used to correspondences that don’t take half an hour of conversation to complete, and can be responded to at any time, from anywhere.
Accordingly, many modern workers don’t see the need for extended meetings or a work schedule that demands long, overlapping hours. After all, you can communicate quickly through written messages over the internet.
According to Pew Research Center, our social media connections and instantly available messages are making us more obsessed with instant gratification, and less patient in our daily lives. This instant gratification is making us crave schedules and work setups that are more conducive to productivity (and our own personal preferences). We’re more demanding and more willing to take risks to get what we want, so more workers are asking for flexible arrangements, and more business owners are willing to grant their requests—so long as they can fulfill their goals.
Social media has also connected us with the entire world, allowing any two people from anywhere to communicate practically instantaneously. This has produced two strong influencing factors that have led to a decline in the 9 to 5 workday. First, we’ve been exposed to more cultures, and have gotten to learn about alternative work schedules (and their effects on both productivity and happiness). Second, we’ve come to learn that it’s possible to communicate from anywhere to anywhere, limiting the need to be in one place to communicate effectively.
Newsfeeds never stop updating. People never stop posting. The world of social media is a continuous one, and that’s helped develop a “24-7 mindset” about how the world operates. We check our emails way too often, and the lines between personal and professional life are already bleeding. So why draw arbitrary lines at 9 and 5?
New Ways to Think About Work-Life Balance
Social media has also allowed us to connect with people who share our mindsets, opening the door to new passions, new friends, new hobbies, and most importantly—more reaffirmations for what we already believe. The dark side of this equation means we’re creating more echo chambers, where we’re less exposed to dissenting viewpoints and diverse populations, but the beneficial side is that we’re doing more with our lives and have stronger convictions for what’s important to us. Work-life balance is simultaneously more important and more visible to us than ever before, and that makes us demand more flexibility from our jobs.
So what does this mean for your workday? Chances are, if you don’t already have a flexible time arrangement, you will soon. According to Statista, 27 percent of companies offer flex-time, and that number is poised to grow indefinitely for most professional positions. If you’re granted new work privileges that break the 9 to 5 tradition, or find work at a job where it’s already broken, you can thank social media for the change.