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Is the 9-to-5 Grind a Thing of the Past? Four Entrepreneurs Weigh In

In a world where remote work is the norm, has the 9-to-5 grind gone the way of vinyl records and typewriters — useful in the fundamental sense, but are in fact just largely impractical reminders of the past?

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BY Jared Carl Millan - 26 Sep 2017

Is the 9-to-5 Grind a Thing of the Past? Four Entrepreneurs Weigh In

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

For the longest time, the 9-to-5 office schedule has always been the norm. It’s a tried-and-tested structure by which most adults have lived their whole lives following, day in and day out.

But in the new world order that today’s start-up culture helped shape, a different kind of structure is in place, and it’s one in which a 9-to-5 schedule may not necessarily fit.

Start-up culture is defined by their rapid growth, and untested and high-risk business models. It’s what makes them at once alluring and intimidating to investors. Is there still a place for a regular 9-to-5 schedule in this very dynamic environment?

Fostering productivity

For Jackson Chong, CEO of Panoleh, a platform that connects users to create a virtual model of their properties for showcase, a 9-to-5 schedule fosters a sense of camaraderie between employees, helping them achieve a collective goal.

“There’s better communication and productivity as a result of the shared time and workspace,” says Chong. “A 9-to-5 work schedule inadvertently creates a positive form of peer pressure which can increase competition and, consequently, lead to better performance.”

Additionally, there are people who thrive in a structured environment. Such is the case for Wendi Chan, founder and director of Parlour Group Pte Ltd. Chan relates she prefers set working hours. “Perhaps, I belong to the older generation of workers. Being there at the same time as other colleagues fosters closer working ties and also allows the team to have lunch and breaks together,” she says.

The pretty and ugly side of flexibility

Flexibility plays an important role in the daily life of Kin Ng, academic advisor at Leadership Management Institute. “As an academic advisor, I have flexible hours as long as I can complete objectives within a certain time frame. That allows me to spend other time pursuing knowledge in seemingly unrelated fields, which can bring positive results to my work in LMI,” he says.

Chan, however, has reservations about a flexible setup. “Overall, even though supporting staff may be happier, I feel that this takes away at the bond our team would have when we have a more structured work scheme,” she says, adding that, as a boss, “controlling efficiency and productivity and the deliverables of the team” can be challenging “as Whatsapp is not really the best communication tool for work.”

The future of business

With the way things are advancing, there are people who have little doubt that a 9-to-5 schedule will soon become obsolete; like most things, it is bound to change and adapt to the times. JiaQuan Lu, Co-founder of imaginem, certainly believes so.

“This is not just pertaining to photography professionals, but this also relates to more professional fields,” says Lu. “[What this] means is that it is crucial that labor force policies take flexibility into account, too. Employers have to think hard about how to manage this ever-evolving workforce because it is challenging. Though I’m rather optimistic that the global workforce has already started to embrace the change.”

Ng echoes Lu’s sentiments. Businesses will need to adapt to the current way of life. “In today’s world where business is being done across cultures, time zones, and in many places simultaneously, the rigidity of the 9-to-5 does not allow for maximum productivity and results.”

But there is still a lot that can be learned from the old ways. Different things work for different people. It’s simply a matter of finding what works, and the recent emergence and acceptance of flexibility in the workplace allows both employee and employer to figure out what metrics work for everyone involved. And when they do, the entire team wins.
Chong, who personally prefers a flexible work schedule, puts it succinctly: “A 9-to-5 schedule may have its merits, but the choice boils down to my employees as each individual is different and thrive under different circumstances.”