The Demise of the 9-5 Workday

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When does work stop? In truth, it doesn't. Email and smartphones have completely transformed the traditional 9-5 work model. Millennials entered the work world during this transition.

I'm not surprised that according to a recent survey by Bentley's PreparedU Project, 77 percent of millennials prefer a flex-work schedule. With Wi-Fi virtually everywhere, you can literally be online and 'accessible' anywhere. We've been able to flex-work during college, vacations, internships, and train with virtual classrooms. Email and internal instant messaging have greatly changed the typical workday.

Working 24/7 isn't the answer. There is a grey area when it comes to flexible work schedules. I believe that employees need to create an open dialogue with their bosses about their schedule. Be honest about what the hours are and what hours would work best for you. Would they mind if you started your day a bit later to hit a yoga class or left early to attend a networking event? The problem many managers face is knowing if they can trust their employee.

As for me, I put in the long hours, the face time, and my work shined. My boss completely trusts my instinct. She also works from her home and wouldn't easily be able to check in on my whereabouts without connecting with the internal office staff. My work, my work ethic and my accountability are what allow me to have a flex-work schedule.

Understanding work needs. If you have a client on the West Coast, or worse, in Asia, you could be clocking in double or triple the hours of your coworkers. Arranging conference calls at 3:00 in the morning or constantly working on projects in the middle of the night can take a toll on anyone. If you become overworked and sleep deprived, you'll be more likely to start looking for positions elsewhere.

Speak up to your boss. Come up with a plan to ensure the work gets done, and you don't come into the office the next day looking like a zombie. Don't assume that your boss has thought of these alternative options already. Most likely, they are worried about so many things that unfortunately, they aren't always thinking about you.

Millennials are always on. Millennials often get pegged as the generation with a terrible work ethic, but in fact, 89 percent of millennials regularly check work email after their regularly scheduled work hours, and 37 percent say they always check work email. Smartphones have truly changed the work landscape. As a community, we have a Pavlovian response when it comes to email. We see the blinking light, hear the ding of a bell and immediately need to check our messages – personal or professional. Time of day does not hinder this need to be "on."

The truth is, millennials work differently than our older counterparts, as each generation did before them; Generation X worked differently than the Boomers. Technology and awareness played a big role in that. Millennials don't have a poor work ethic- it's simply a different approach to work.

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