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March 13, 2017

How Cloud Technology is Killing the Notion of a 9-to-5 Workday

Image courtesy of (BrianHolm) /

For more than a century, the 9-to-5 workday has been considered the norm. It’s what the entire workweek is scheduled around and people have become accustomed to maintaining consistent 40-hour schedules. But as cloud technology grows, it’s becoming increasingly evident that this scheduling system is both outdated and irrelevant.

Saying Sayonara to the 9-to-5

“In 2017, when knowledge workers don’t need to be physically present to get their work done, nothing feels quite as arbitrary as the 9-to-5,” Dialpad explains in this blog post.

“With mobile and cloud technologies allowing individuals and teams to connect and collaborate around the world at the times that deem best, the 9-to-5 feels downright archaic.”

It’s not just the fact that the traditional work schedule has been around for decades that makes it so archaic. It’s the fact that it negatively impacts a number of key areas that are supposed to contribute to employee success. These include:

  • Creativity. When you force an employee to work a set schedule, it can be very limiting. There’s no outlet for creative expression or the freedom to try something new. Eventually, the proverbial creative juices stop flowing and people become accustomed to just going through the motions. This is especially dangerous in fields like marketing, advertising and design.
  • Productivity. According to Dialpad’s own research, 75 percent of employees believe the independence and flexibility that comes with remote working will improve happiness, creativity and productivity. That’s because today’s workers are so focused on the restraints of the 9-to-5 schedule that output isn’t prioritized.
  • Balance. According to Heidi Parsont, who runs a recruiting firm in Alexandria, the No. 1 thing today’s job candidates want is work-life balance. In fact, it’s the primary reason why people start looking for new jobs in the first place. Corporate America hasn’t yet caught on and the 9-to-5 is the antithesis to balance.
  • Efficiency. The 9-to-5 holds the average worker back from reaching their optimal level of efficiency. Instead of focusing on work and work alone, employees are worried about arriving on time, taking a lunch break exactly at noon, and getting everything done before clocking out at 5 p.m. on the dot. The emphasis is on time, not work. This holds everyone back and kills efficiency.

If you’ve worked for a company that follows the 9-to-5 work schedule, then you probably have your own gripes to add to the list. It’s not a very good setup anymore and doesn’t reflect modern needs and attitudes.

Three Technologies That Make it Possible to Work From Anywhere

According to a recent CareerBuilder Survey, three in five workers believe the 9-to-5 workday is a thing of the past. And while people may assume it’s millennials who are fighting against the notion of the traditional workday, it’s actually the more experienced professionals leading the way. When it comes to the typical eight-hour workday being a thing of the past, the survey shows that a higher proportion of professionals age 45 and above believe this is true.

The good news is that the 9-to-5 is gradually disappearing. According to data from the American Time Use Survey, the number of college educated Americans who work in an office on an average day has declined from 80 percent in 2003 to just a little more than 74 percent in 2014. Over that same period of time, the number of American workers with a BA who do substantial amounts of work at home has risen from 32 percent to 39 percent.

While these shifts can be attributed to any number of causes, it’s clear that the rise in remote working – and subsequently the death of the 9-to-5 workday – has a lot to do with the cloud and other remote technologies and systems.

1. Project Management Platforms

Part of the reason the traditional workplace and eight-hour schedule has been around for so long is that it makes it easy for everyone to be on the same page. If you need to hold a meeting, you know everyone will show up. But as soon as project management platforms started using the cloud, everything began to change.

Today, there are numerous project management platforms – including Basecamp, Producteev, and ActiveCollab – that allow remote teams to share files, communicate, and stay up-to-date on new developments, regardless of where they are or what devices they use.

2. Cloud-Based Phone Systems

We mentioned Dialpad at the beginning of this article, so we might as well discuss cloud-based phone technology, which is totally changing business communications for the better.

With a cloud-based phone system, employees are no longer tied down to their desks. They’re able to move freely and easily without risk of missing calls or disconnecting at the wrong moment. Whether it’s an airport lounge or a backyard patio, a cloud-based phone system works just the same. From a business perspective, it’s also exponentially more cost-effective.

3. Smartphone Apps

The Smartphone is one of the best things that’s happened to the business world. While most people talk about it in terms of engaging consumers, it’s had a much more profound effect on the way employees work.

We already mentioned project management platforms, but it goes far beyond that. Just check out this list of remote working apps to get a picture of the depth of tools that now exist. And many of them are totally free.

Predictability Goes Out the Door With the Cloud

Some people like predictability. These are the folks who stay with the same company for 20 years and follow the same routine every morning before going to work. But then there are people who would rather switch things up and enjoy some flexibility. It’s these people who are using the cloud to ditch the 9-to-5 and reclaim their freedom through remote working.

So, what does the future of the American workplace look like? “We’ll see more democratized organizations,” believes Phil Jones, managing director of Brother UK Ltd.

“Pyramids will be de-constructed in favour of high-speed molecular based organisation structures, focused on agility, speed to market and counter-measure activity. The workplace will become the ‘workspace’ with less defined areas, more ‘turn up and work’ environments.”

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who still clocks in and out at the same time every day, maybe now’s a good time to speak with your boss about flexibility or start looking for a new job that allows for it? The technological infrastructure is in place, but it’s your decision to choose whether or not you want to catch up.


Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.