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It’s time to face the truth: the 9-5 workday isn’t working anymore.

And no, it’s not just because it actually starts at 8 (Dolly Parton lied to us) – it’s due to the simple fact that it is no longer sustainable in the current digital era. While it has always been tough to tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, this rhythm is getting increasingly difficult for millions of professionals whose lives are dictated by the next Slack notification. 

The idea of the 9-5 workday was created in the 1800s and became increasingly popular in the 1920s, in a time where work couldn’t follow you home. Fast forward to the 2010s, and you’d be hard pressed to find a professional that doesn’t spend at least half an hour of their time responding to emails or putting in work on a project. 

So, what’s the answer to this work-life dilemma? 

Flexibility. 

Not the kind you would find at a yoga class, but the ability to work where you want, when you want with a schedule that fits your personal lifestyle. 

Flexible work has often been touted as a tool for companies to help boost productivity and success, but how does it actually benefit the worker? As the tide changes on the world’s perspective of the typical workday, let’s take a look at how professionals can win by ditching the 9-5 and choosing a flexible work style. 

Better Work-Life Balance 

Let’s get real for a second: a true work-life balance doesn’t exist. It’s a harsh truth everyone realizes once they enter the workforce, simply because balancing work and life completely is impossible. Anyone with a full-time job will tell you work doesn’t stay at the office. With flexible work, the worker gets to choose their schedule and when they interact with coworkers, versus being confined to a  time slot. The worker benefits because they can adjust their work to their lifestyle.. 

Nobody’s life moves at a predictable rhythm, meaning that full-time work duties often collide with life’s responsibilities. In a regular job, an employee would need to ask their boss for the time off, get it approved by HR, and scramble to finish any work before their afternoon off. With flexible work, this process is scrapped: the worker simply shifts their schedule to accommodate plans without any worry of needing to clock in or out. 

Increases Productivity 

The average worker is only productive for around three hours a day. That’s right: those five extra hours of wishing you were somewhere else, could actually be spent doing just that. Although flexible work still does require more than a few hours of work, you’re better able to work with flows of productivity, rather than waiting out a creative block in a cubicle. 

Lack of employee engagement costs the US an average of $350 billion per year. For years, companies have held workers in the eight-hour day for the sake of hoping for higher productivity surrounded by coworkers and supervisors. However, this strict schedule doesn’t work well for many people or their work style. A recent study found that 20 percent of employees are more engaged when they have the right amount of balance between their work and personal life. Flexibility gives the worker the autonomy to decide their own schedule and avoid burnout, thus increasing productivity and lessening overall stress. 

Work On What They Want, When They Want 

“Do you have the bandwidth to take on this project?”- the question that haunts the dreams of every full-time employee. In a full-time environment, workers typically have a daily list of to-dos and are expected to take on projects as they are assigned; some are not always truly in line with their skillset or role. With flexible work, there’s no need to take on multiple, unrelated projects- the worker chooses what skills they want to use. 

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While this has often felt like a pipe dream, flexible work is the solution to doing what you love by focusing on the skills you enjoy to use and have talent in. Some workers choose to flex these skills across several organizations in contract roles, which gives them the ability to be their own boss and have a consistent variety of work or projects. Whichever the worker chooses, both can allow them to flex the skills they truly love or have, without the unnecessary feeling of obligation to take on extra things outside their scope.  

While some companies are beginning to offer flexibility as a benefit to employees, there are organizations that have long been working to help professionals find a better way to work, like FlexTal. By giving professionals the ability to choose what they work on and create their own schedule, they’re allowed to create a life that doesn’t revolve around work or make the next project feel like a chore.  

The future of work is flexible, and not just for the benefit of companies, but also to help professionals around the world find a way to work outside of the outdated 9-5. By doing so, we’ll help the workforce enter a new phase where less emphasis is put on the hours worked and more so on the quality of life of the worker themself. 

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