PhotoIt used to be that just doctors were on call 24 hours a day. Now, it seems that we all are.

Employment site CareerBuilder decided to look at how Americans work these days. How many of us, it wondered, stick to the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule? Now that technology allows us to work from almost anywhere, the typical workday appears to be changing.

The survey targeted 1,000 full-time workers in information technology, financial services, sales, and professional and business services – industries that historically have kept more traditional work hours. Harris Poll asked the questions.

According to the results, 63% of workers in these industries believe “working 9 to 5” is an outdated concept, and a significant number have a hard time leaving the office mentally. For example, nearly 1 in 4 – 24% – check work emails during supposed “down time” with family and friends.

Is working 5 to 9 the new 9 to 5?

Today, work might mean just staying connected. Fifty percent of the workers in the targeted industries said they check or respond to work emails outside of work, and nearly 2 in 5 – 38% – say they continue to work outside of office hours.

It should be noted that very few people who took the survey complain about this new work paradigm. Sixty-two percent say they stay connected by choice because often, it works to their advantage.

“Workers want more flexibility in their schedules, and with improvements in technology that enable employees to check in at any time, from anywhere, it makes sense to allow employees to work outside the traditional nine-to-five schedule,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “Moving away from a nine-to-five work week may not be possible for some companies yet, but if done right, allowing employees more freedom and flexibility with their schedules can improve morale, boost productivity and increase retention rates.”

I think, therefore I work

While we seem to be working longer hours, work also seems to be more loosely defined than in the past. For example, it isn't always about completing a set task – sometimes it's a thought process.

About 20% of those questioned say they think about work issues just before going to bed and 42% say work is the first thing on their mind when they wake up in the morning.

Men are more likely than women to report working outside of office hours, check or respond to work emails outside of work, and check on work activities while they are out with friends and family.

Older workers are more likely to work outside of normal business hours than younger workers.

How healthy?

There is one question that the survey does not address– how healthy is this trend? Don't we need to unplug every once in a while?

When Gallup delved into this issue last year, it found that, for the most part, workers don't see working around the clock as a burden.

It's not like they're on a factory assembly line. Instead, they are more apt to be working a problem and exchanging ideas with colleagues.


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