5am: The new 9am – reshaping work-life balance


As organisations adapt to changing needs and priorities, the concept of flexible working has emerged as a revolutionary force reshaping traditional notions of the workday. It’s a recurrent theme in numerous articles on www.makeadifference.media, reflecting the evolving landscape of modern work dynamics.

This article highlights the diverse effects of flexible working and the continuous transformation it triggers in employment practice, as well as its impact on workplace culture and employee health and wellbeing.

“Flexible working” encompasses various arrangements regarding working hours and patterns, such as part-time schedules, flexi-time, term-time options, compressed hours, and the ability to adjust start and finish times. It also includes the flexibility of location, such as the opportunity to work remotely from home.

An increasing number of individuals are seeking job opportunities that provide improved work-life balance. Recent findings from Know Your Money indicate that individuals are ready to leave employers that fail to meet this requirement. Approximately one-third (29%) of full-time employees in the UK have quit a job in the last year due to insufficient flexibility.

5AM the new 9AM: a shift in workday dynamics

As the clock strikes 5 in the morning, a silent revolution is underway in workplaces across the UK. With the enactment of new flexible working laws on April 6, a seismic shift is expected in how employees structure their workdays. According to experts at people management platform Employment Hero, the traditional 9-5 workday is no longer compatible with the demands of modern life, especially for working parents.

Under the new legislation, employers are mandated to consider requests for flexible working in good faith, opening the door for employees to craft schedules that better align with their personal commitments.

This means that the once rigid boundaries of the workday are now giving way to a more fluid approach, where parents can start their workday as early as 5am to accommodate school runs and childcare commitments. Employers retain the authority to decline a request; however, the legislation emphasises the importance of thorough discussion and fair treatment to enhance the process and promote best practices.

The testimony of Employment Hero

CEO of Employment Hero, Ben Thompson, emphasises the importance of adapting to this new reality: “We’ve observed a significant shift among parents, who are opting to begin work as early as 5am, so they can tackle work before attending to their children’s school or childcare commitments around 9am. This early start allows them the flexibility to wrap up work earlier in the afternoon, prioritising family time and avoiding the rush to complete tasks after picking up their children. 5am is evolving into the new 9am.”

Lucy Sharp, a full-time employee and mother of two at Employment Hero, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the transformative impact of flexible working: “Juggling full-time work as a mum of two is hard. If I had to manage 9-5 office hours alongside a commute, childcare expenses, school runs and after school clubs, then full-time employment would literally be impossible for me. I feel very lucky that I’m encouraged to embrace flexible working at Employment Hero. Being able to choose my own hours means I feel valued, and it gives me freedom to enjoy those little but important moments with my kids.”

For the past four years, Employment Hero has implemented a comprehensive remote working policy. During this period of transition to remote work, the company has experienced impressive expansion. Specifically, their workforce has grown fivefold, revenue has surged nearly seven times, and their valuation has risen by approximately $1.7 billion.

Upskilling managers: navigating the transition to flexible work

People Management has argued that for flexible working to be effective and successful, employers must take proactive steps to review and update their existing policies to align with new regulations, as emphasised by Elizabeth Willetts of Investing in Women.

Anticipating a surge in flexible working requests, Pam Loch from Loch Associates Group underscores the necessity for employers to establish efficient processes and train managers to handle these requests promptly and empathetically.

Both experts stress the importance of upskilling managers to facilitate open communication channels and effectively manage flexible working arrangements. According to Willetts, training managers to handle requests with empathy is crucial, while Loch highlights the need for managers to be skilled in delegation and fostering high-performance environments, particularly in remote or dispersed teams. Investing in manager training not only supports flexible working initiatives but also yields broader organisational benefits.

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As businesses adapt to the flexible working revolution, it’s clear that the debate over allowing flexible hours is giving way to more valuable discussions around productivity and innovation. With the new legislation paving the way for a more inclusive and adaptable work culture, employers have a unique opportunity to prioritise employee wellbeing while driving business success in the modern era.

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