Cross-posted from The Green Suits:
Thirty years ago, the average careerist knew that his or her day broke essentially into three separate but equal parts: one-third sleep, one-third work, and one-third everything else. But during that time, “A-Types” set the agenda; the average work day ballooned in size while the sleep and everything else component parts shrunk.
In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, a careerist was expected to outperform. And almost always that coincided with longer hours working. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for a business executive to log long hours. In fact 20 years ago, my typical early career work day averaged 11.5 hours.
Yet, despite the sacrifice, such dedication paid off. For some entry-level executives, long hours meant lots of overtime pay which added up quickly. For more experienced executives, long hours did not go unnoticed by their senior-level and C-level supervisors.
We hard workers enjoyed more promotions and pay raises.
Back in the day many executives earned a lot, but their ample rewards came with great downsides. Marriages and relationships suffered or ended. And few of us took all of our well earned vacation days. So, it is no wonder that–with too much eating-on-the-go and all the added stress on mind and body–we got sick a lot.
Until the start of the Great Recession in Fourth Quarter 2007, most executives worked long hours–the longer, the better. But the steep economic downturn proved to be a game changer; emerging from that cycle, executives now work hard, but all are expected to work smarter and live a more balanced life.
And so enters The Malleable Workday.
An important trend we see in today’s workplace is to adoption of a work day that values quality of work, but also quality of life. Millennial experts and authors Morley Winograd and Mike Hais conducted extensive research on the 90 million-strong cohort which is driving this pivot; their findings show that Millennials are effecting change not only in how long we work each day but also how our work time arrays on the clock.
Morley explains the paradigm shift from a Millennial perspective:
“[Work] is [now] a part of life, It isn’t distinct from life. And it is something that one can do over the course of the day when one does everything else one does in life, whether it is socializing with friends on line, interacting with family, Skype chats with children at school. All of that should be one thing and it shouldn’t be a set of distinct things. It should be THE DAY.”
I cannot imagine such a scenario 30 years ago. But today’s hiring managers are embracing malleability as illustrated by this comment from a hiring manager we know at a marketing insights services company:
“As long as our talent complete their work, satisfy all commitments, and meet and beat our expectations, they may arrange their workday as they please.”
Of course, like all paradigm shifts some of us will adapt well while others–more comfortable with uniform structure–will not. Still, we believe this trend will grow to become our New Normal, because more talent entering the workforce want purposeful work and a work/life balance.
And that, indeed, is a good thing.