This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 8, 2000

9 to 5 No More

327 days until January 1, 2001

Remember when we described the workday as 9:00 to 5:00? It wasn't that long ago. Of course, many people worked on shift jobs that were 7:00-3:00, 3:00 to 11:00, and so forth. The pattern has changed and will change even more in the years ahead.

The workday is now "24/7" . . . another expression gaining in popularity. With a booming economy, there is much to be done. Work can't all be finished in the traditional eight-hour day. Globalization influences working hours. Co-workers, suppliers, and customers in other time zones around the world want to communicate on their time, not yours. The labor shortage has exacerbated the situation, motivating employers to encourage people to work as long as it takes to get the job done. High-tech firms are often characterized by long work hours, even round-the-clock marathons to complete projects. Workers wanting flexibility in their schedules-for childcare, commuting convenience, or their biological clocks-are starting earlier and later and working earlier and later.

A recent phone survey of 3,000 Canadians revealed that only half are starting or ending work at the same time each day. Fewer than four percent reported a standard 9 to 5 day. The symptom of this evolution of working hours is the metropolitan commuting pattern. Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa are experiencing heavier late evening traffic as a result of people working longer days. Heavier early-morning rush hours are seen in major metropolitan areas in a number of countries.

Childcare providers who insist that parents pick-up their children by 6:00 will become few and far between. Some facilities are even shifting to the 24/7 mode. It's increasingly difficult for working parents to commit to a specific pick-up time, even though most would prefer to have a more established schedule. Families are eating later in the evening, changing the homework, nutrition, and relationship schedules of children-including students. Current and future generations may be much less schedule-based than generations of the past. This fluidity has its advantages, but will also take a toll on personal and family interactions and expectations.

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