Monday, June 1, 2020

Ditching the 9 to 5

Ditching the 9 to 5

Why co-working strikes the balance 


On the 1st of December in 1913, Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line, reducing in the production time of an automobile from 12 hours to just two and a half hours. Ford was able to meet the growing demand for motor cars, rolling out 10 million Model T cars off the Highland Park assembly line a decade later. Along with the affordability, the Ford Model T became the most significant car of the automotive age. 


Ford implemented a 40-hour work week for Highland Park and established the US$5 per day wage in 1914, which was double the average pay. Ford created a template for the work model of the industrial era. The modern working trend of nine-to-five, five days a week, is a direct consequence of Ford’s system of over a century ago. 


The truth is, the ‘nine-to-five’ model is becoming archaic. The eight-hour workday, when put in the context of the industrial age, struck the perfect balance for factory-based work. Someone had to be physically present, working on a specific task to be passed onto the next person. 


However, in the digital age, hours at work do not necessarily equate to work getting done. American labor statistics show an average of 8.8 hours of work, yet studies show that the optimal ratio for productivity is 52 minutes of work, 17 minutes of rest, and repeat. 


Demographic trends regarding the workforce show a passing of the torch, where half of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by 2020. Also, according to a 2015 workforce insight survey by Kelly Services, 51% of millennials say their current or most recent employer’s organizational structure promotes collaboration and inclusion. It suggests that as millennials begin to step into leadership positions, working dynamics will start to change more dramatically. 


Millennials are demanding to be in a more flexible environment than older generations. With millennials placing more importance on factors such as a company’s remote working policy, time for side projects, corporate social responsibility, and personal growth, we will see a shift in attitudes both personally and professionally.


One type of work environment that millennials have come to embrace is co-working. According to Colliers’ The Flexible Workspace Outlook Report 2019, most major cities around the Asia Pacific have seen dramatic increases in co-working spaces, with Singapore seeing as much as a tripling of the sector since 2015. This report and many more have pointed out that co-working will grow beyond being a trend. 


Changing the traditional work environment to a co-working environment has proven to be a good investment for both their financial and human resources. Co-working helps strike a balance to usher in a better, more productive work culture. With half the world connected online since 2015, flexible working arrangements will soon be a norm.


One great example is the Australian developer, Landlease. In Singapore, it moved a large project team to a co-working space to experience and learn. For its upcoming property, Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ), it plans to have collaborative zones throughout the complex for its tenants’ benefit. Then in PLQ, it is also launching its own co-working space, completing the cycle. 


This roadmap is an excellent one for others to follow. Firms can try out co-working with project teams, especially red teams who can benefit from increased creativity and independence. With some insight, there is a possibility to convert existing spaces to be collaborative and revise policies towards flexibility. Then after seeing the benefits and cost savings, decide to leap to free oneself from traditional leases and go full co-work. 


With this undeniable transition towards co-working, forward-thinking companies can improvise, adapt, and overcome without uprooting all at once. Moving forward, companies have to acknowledge that co-working is a global phenomenon. It will become a mainstay to the modern workforce and leave the traditional non-to-five in its wake.


About the Author

Peter Justin Yu is the Campfire Singapore General Manager. He is a digital public relations strategist and inbound marketer who passionately champions the future of collaborative spaces at Campfire. Previously, he was the head of public relations at various successful startups like Dropmysite (reverse-IPO) and Folr (multi-million dollar acquisition). He specializes in creating meaningful and long-lasting conversations about game-changing businesses that go after grand ideas.

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