With an increasing number of organisations trialling flexible working, and advances in consumer technology making remote working easier than ever, the traditional working hours of 9 to 5 are going out of style.

Be it to accommodate other commitments such as childcare, or simply acknowledging that a digital world requires workers to be connected and accessible outside of an eight-hour period, a recent YouGov survey found that just 6% of people in the UK now work 9 to 5.

In fact, the majority of Brits would favour a move away from traditional working hours, with more than half wanting to start and finish work earlier than they currently do.

In 2014, The Flexible Working Regulations established the right for employees in the UK to request flexible working, driving a lot of young people to become freelancers and work from different places. However, this trend is only set to grow.

Flexible working to drive workplace transformation

Video web conferencing provider PowWowNow has conducted research into the workforce of the future, and has found that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials, with 70% of them wanting to work more flexibly.

Through interviewing experts and young professionals, the company has found that an increasing demand for flexibility could drive significant change to how the working day is structured, with the growth of the gig economy contributing to this.

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As well as a change in hours, 64% of millennials want a change in the environment they work in too, favouring remote working rather than an office, facilitated through advancements in technology and the increasing uptake of freelance work, with 43% of Gen Y consider freelancing as alternative to a full-time job.

Jon Loftin, Head of Unified Communications at PowWowNow, says workers’ quick adoption of new technology at home is driving this, and could be further accelerated through virtual reality (VR) and wearables:

“[Wearable tech] could be incorporated in some way in the future. It’s difficult to see an improvement beyond a tablet computer, because a screen is necessary. VR might come into the workplace at some point, it would be helpful when discussing issues with customers, not being limited to a flat image.”

The challenge for businesses

This shift means that businesses today need to respond to these demands in order to increase their employee loyalty. A research study conducted by Deloitte found that there was a strong correlation between flexible working offering and employee loyalty, with over 55% of millennials expected to stay more than 5 years when given more flexibility at work.

One of the main reasons for this switch in working patterns could be down to people not having enough time to enjoy their hobbies. 42% of people told PowWowNow that they didn’t have enough spare time in the week to explore different hobbies.

However, this flexibility may have downside. A lot of companies are now outsourcing freelancers for short-term projects rather than permanent workers, reducing job security.

A change in office culture may also have an impact on the mental health of employees, with the isolating nature of working from home, as well as the blurring of work and home life, may have a negative impact.

Business coach Ruth Kudzi states:

“[Remote working] isn’t wholly positive, because I think there might be personality types where the office provides the only social support they get, and could cause an epidemic of loneliness, which is the most detrimental thing for your health. But for most people, having control over how they work will be massively beneficial. A business needs to take this into account with their employee training plan.”

However, office culture is not entirely dead, with 52% of millennials consider work culture as most important factor when choosing a workplace.