This Week's Herman Trend Alert

HR in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 23, 2005

Working 24/7

We expect to see a significant increase in the number of people working non-traditional hours---evenings and nights---in the next few years. As employers respond to global relationships, where people in other parts of the world are working at times that require night work by local employees, this trend will grow. More night work will be seen as companies, particularly manufacturing facilities, seek to utilize their equipment more hours each day. Extended hours generate a greater return on investment, but require people to work during those extended hours.

At this time, an estimated 24 million Americans work in jobs that require non-traditional working hours. We do not have reliable data to fully understand and appreciate the impact of round-the-clock employment on a global basis. We do know, however, that there is a growing number of jobs in countries like India that provide telemarketing and call center support services to the United States, Canada, and other countries.

People who work at night, living a different schedule than those who sleep when it is dark, experience a lifestyle that is often incompatible with others in their families or in their community. Going to the dentist, for example, is difficult for someone who is awake when the dentist is asleep…and is asleep when the dentist is seeing patients. Going for a walk in the park may not be a good idea at night, and exercise facilities like gyms have not traditionally been open 24 hours.

Concerns for shift workers include hypertension, meal and snack management, caring for pets, and maintaining family relationships. Their social life is different, as is shopping, banking, and enjoying quality sleep. The science of lifestyle and body changes is called "circadian rhythm." Circadian Technologies ( conducts important research on the way people function in time-alternative lives, even publishing a helpful calendar "Working Nights" for families.

This information will be valuable to the growing number of families affected by members working in shifts. Engineers, factory workers, helpdesk personnel, healthcare and public safety workers, logistics specialists, and even retailers will be affected by these workplace changes in the years ahead.

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