There have been debates on what range of age does the ‘millennial generation’ falls on. Some argued that the millennials are those who were born from the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s, some others expanded the range including those born from the early 1980’s to early 2000’s. Regardless of the age range, many experts and researchers agree on what kinds of experience this generation share: the rapid technological advancements in the turn of the millennium which also brings about social and behavioural changes. This is the generation that experiences one of the greatest changes in the history of humankind. They experience the switch from landline to mobile phones and scheduled to on-demand entertainments among others.
However, many researchers and experts on the sociology of generation does not solely focus technological aptitude as the distinguishing characteristic of the millennials, but also their attitudes and behaviours in many life aspects of adulthood, including navigating work life. A research published by Florida International University describes millennials workplace profile as highly valuing creative and meaningful work, as opposed to the previous generations’ stable and steady work regiment. As a consequence, many views that a change of work regimen is deemed necessary in order to suit the needs and values of the millennials. One idea resulting from this hypothesis is flexible working hours.
Flexible Working Hours: A Reflection of the Millennials Attitudes and Behaviours
Technology allows us to change the ways we are working, as well as one of the main arguments in support of flexible working hours. Internet and cloud technology have increased mobility, meaning that employee’s physical attendance can be minimised. 8-hour work day regimen was introduced by Henry Ford in 1914 as a change to the 16-hour work day. Technology again played a big role in this change, due to the exponential increase of profit and productivity resulted in the development of assembly line process. The premise of this change was that, if we can still achieve the same (better yet, more) productivity and profit in less time, why should we spend more time working?
Other arguments supporting flexible working hours that distance themselves from technological advancement are based on allowing employees to focus on their personal well-being, through creativity and increased social life. As previously mentioned that millennials value creative and meaningful work, it is believed that monotonousness of 9 to 5 work regiment hinders creative processes while flexible working hours is believed to allow more room for employee’s creativity, which is an essential skill for jobs in the 21st century. Another argument in support of flexible working hours is that it allows employees to have more time for their social and personal life. A research conducted by Pew Research Center in 2014 concluded that adult millennials tend to be more detached from institutions and instead more connected to friends. Flexible working hours may mostly be desired by millennials parents which promises them more quality time with their children, especially now that the trend in sharing equal parental contribution is increasing among millennials.
Is Flexible Working Hours Going to be the Norm Anytime Soon?
Unfortunately, since the idea of flexible working hours is still relatively new, evidence on its long-term benefits are yet to be uncovered. Other than that, while giving us advantages of working mobile, technology might be used to justify employers to demand their employees to be ‘always on’, which makes work-life balance appear to be illusory. On top of it, Asians still value hard work through showing up early or staying overtime, would flexible working hours suit Asian Millennials? In 1930’s, 20th century British Economist, John Maynard Keynes predicted that monotonous working regimen will soon be left behind. Would flexible working hours be the answer to Keynes’ prediction in the near future or would 9 to 5 stay here a for a little longer.