This article was published on February 3, 2011

Did the 9-5 Just Die?

Did the 9-5 Just Die?
Niall Harbison
Story by

Niall Harbison

Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the world and engage with their customers using the free tools available to them.

I’ve noticed that people have started working in a different way in the last couple of years. The 9 to 5 is something much consigned to the past as we all live in an uber-connected world that is changing by the minute.

We get annoyed if we can’t get good online customer service within minutes. Most of us answer multiple work emails while sitting on the couch using our smart phones. The services that we use now all live in the cloud and we are only ever 1 click away form getting to something work related. This huge advance in technology also comes at a time when we are all having to work harder for less money given the economic climate and at the same time our connections are growing larger thanks to social networks.

So what are the shifts in technology that are bringing about this change in work culture and is the traditional 9 to 5 dead?

The Cloud

It used to be that you could leave work and the moment you walked out the door that would pretty much be it but cloud computing has changed that. Most of us can access our emails, documents and calendars from anywhere in the world meaning that we don’t actually have to be in the office to work. On the upside it means when bad weather or family issues hit you can work from anywhere but on the downside it now means that your couch, garden, kitchen and holidays are all places where you can do as much work as at your actual offices desk.


Mobile technology has improved massively in the last couple of years to the point where most of us are walking around with a personal computer in our pockets. Where we were once limited to SMS and calls we can now do everything from editing documents, making movies and doing research on our mobiles. The fact that most of us have our work emails on our phones means that we are tied to work 24/7 no matter where we are, for better or for worse.

Increased Networks

Most of us who use social networks like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook have far bigger networks of people that we know now than we did a few years ago. This means that there are more people to network with, more people who have questions and many of these people are peoply you work with. Our personal social networks are increasingly mixed with our professional networks and that means more work out of normal working hours. It might just be a subtle DM or a Facebook message but the fact is your social profiles now feature many professional contacts as well.

Change In Consumer Behavior

There has been a massive shift in recent years in how brands and businesses deal with consumers. Having a 9-5 customer service phone number simply doesn’t cut it any more. You can’t shut down your social media channels on a Friday at 5 just because it’s the weekend– if anything your consumers are more active in their spare time online. The smart companies are becoming agile to deal with the changing landscape and what this means for staff and employees is yet more flexible working hours and a move away from the 9-5.

Are Our Brains Built To Handle This?

I for one find it very tough to switch off. Unless I somehow lock my laptop and phone in a cupboard I am going to be working. I’m not sure that our brains are built to process the amount of information that they have to handle on a daily basis though. Work is creeping into our social lives and our down time. We are more connected than we have ever been and are expected to process more tasks than ever on a daily basis. If anything this trend is going to accelerate as technology improves still further but I just don’t think our brains are like computers that double in power every 18 months. Just how much information can we absorb?

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