World Reimagined

Is the End of the 9 to 5 Day Drawing Near?

Workplace with a clock on on a table
Credit: Nattanon / stock.

The pandemic might have wreaked havoc on the way people work, but it also introduced a flexibility to people’s work days that many hadn’t experienced before.

Commuting into an office and working a 9-5 day doesn’t leave time for much else, expect perhaps a short lunch break. But now, having had a taste of the freedom that comes with a flexible schedule, many employees aren’t excited about the prospect of giving it up.

A report by Adobe, entitled The Future of Time, finds that half of enterprise and small and medium sized (SMB) business leaders work longer hours now than they did before COVID-19. The average workweek, it notes, is now 45 hours. And with those added responsibilities, the number of workers who say they want complete flexibility in their working hours has jumped from 17% pre-COVID to 51% today.

“Time pressures exacerbate employee burnout,” the report reads “Employees hold their company responsible for these pressures, and they were willing to switch jobs for better work-life balance and control over their schedules. Employers need to address these challenges or risk losing top talent.”

That echoes the sentiment Salesforce president Brent Hyder espoused last year in a blog post that discussed the changes to the workplace the pandemic had brought about.

"An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks,” he said.

The Adobe survey spoke with workers in seven countries—the UK, U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Japan. And it was the Germans who were most eager to adopt a flexible work schedule. Some 56% of respondents in that country said they supported the idea of flexible hours.

Japan, meanwhile, has the lowest number of people who are currently experiencing a flexible hour lifestyle, with just 12% having that option now. Nearly half of the people Adobe spoke to in that country, however, say they prefer that sort of environment.

The interest in this flexibility also varied greatly by generation. Among millennials, 73% said they would switch jobs for more control over their work schedule, assuming the salary and job description remained the same. That compared to just 46% of Baby Boomers. Gen Z was the second most likely change, with 66% saying they would switch jobs for more control. Gex X came in at 59% who would change.

At the core of this movement is the growing amount of burnout employees are facing as overwhelming stress from the lingering pandemic, economic uncertainty, work responsibilities, inflation and more press down on workers.

Employers are trying a variety of ways to offer relief. These can range from increased empathy among managers to better navigating the work/life balance.

Other companies are exploring a four-day work week, to notable success. Microsoft, in 2019, trialed a program in Japan giving workers the same salary, but only requiring them to work four days. Productivity went up by nearly 40%, the company said. And in the U.K. a six-month pilot of a four-day work week is underway, giving the 30 participating companies access to expertise, tools and resources to make the transition a smooth one.

That study follows a multi-year trial in Iceland (2015 to 2019) that found workers were happier, healthier, and more productive with a four-day week versus a five-day one.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Chris Morris

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience, more than half of which were spent with some of the Internet’s biggest sites, including, where he was Director of Content Development, and Yahoo! Finance, where he was managing editor. Today, he writes for dozens of national outlets including Digital Trends, Fortune, and

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