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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Connected Workers Leave 9-to-5 Workday Behind

Connected Workers Leave 9-to-5 Workday Behind Credit: Saurabh13/Shutterstock

Smartphones, laptops, cloud computing and Wi-Fi are quickly turning 9-to-5 workdays into a thing of the past, new research finds.

More than 60 percent of workers in information technology, financial services, sales, and professional and business services — industries that, historically, have had traditional work hours — said they believe working 9 to 5 is an outdated concept, according to a CareerBuilder study.

Even when the office is out of sight, work is far from out of mind, the study found: Half of the workers surveyed said they check or respond to work-related emails outside of work, and nearly 40 percent said they continue to work on projects and other assignments after they leave the office.

Additionally, 20 percent of those surveyed said work is the last thing they think about before bed, and 42 percent said it's the first thing they think about when they wake up.

Although a constant connection to the office may seem bothersome, more than 60 percent of the workers surveyed said they perceive it as a choice rather than an obligation. Providing employees with the tools to remain connected to their work outside the office is allowing many employers to give employees what they crave: flexibility. [5 Ways Flexible Work Options Benefit Small Businesses ]

"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 9-to-5 schedule," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. "Moving away from a 9-to-5 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."

There does appear to be a generational divide in exactly what type of work employees are doing after hours. The study shows that half of the 45- to 54-year-olds surveyed continue working on projects and assignments after they leave the office, compared to just 31 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds.

However, younger workers are more likely to stay connected via email than their older counterparts. More than 50 percent of workers ages 18 to 24 check or respond to work emails outside the office, compared to 46 percent of employees age 55 and older.

The study was based on surveys of 1,078 full-time employees age 18 and older in the IT, financial services, sales, and professional and business services industries.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.