Are We Killing the 9 to 5?

Whether you're into the WFH lifestyle or not, more and more young professionals are looking to ditch the office in favor of their couch, smartphone and laptop.
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Close up of a coworkers working together
Close up of a coworkers working together

Working from home (WFH): Some see it as a Netflix trap waiting to happen, others as an opportunity to work according to their own schedule, resulting in a more productive day. Whether you're into the WFH lifestyle or not, more and more young professionals are looking to ditch the office in favor of their couch, smartphone and laptop.

According to Bentley University's recent PreparedU Project on millennial minds, "The Millennial Mind Goes to Work: How Millennial Preferences will Shape the Future of the Modern Workplace," 77 percent of millennials say having flexible work hours would make them more productive, with 2.8 million workers already considering their home as their primary place of work. Given that millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, experts predict the "death of the nine to five" as soon as 2030.

What's Changed?

This shift to the WFH lifestyle can be attributed to a variety of factors.

We view career success differently than our older peers. Instead of vying for that coveted CEO spot like our parents, PreparedU reports that 66 percent of millennials would like to start their own business and 37 percent prefer to work on their own, a nod to our independent mindset. "Millennials are realizing that starting a company, even if it crashes and burns, teaches them more in two years than sitting in a cubicle for 20 years," explains Bentley University Director of Entrepreneurial Studies Fred Tuffile. This shift in priorities explains the decline in the traditional nine to five work schedule, as entrepreneurship doesn't necessarily require a formal office space.

We also desire flexible work hours. Termed the "always-on generation," 89 percent of millennials routinely check emails after 5 p.m., with 37 percent reporting that they do so every day. With technology being such an integrated part of our daily lives, checking email, a company Facebook page or a work-related Twitter feed outside of the standard nine to five schedule feels like second nature. This hyper connectivity makes us wonder, what's the difference if we're answering emails from our apartment or our cubicle?

The desire for flexible work hours could also represent a larger cultural shift towards a better work-life balance. According to Aaron Nurick, a management and psychology professor at Bentley, "people have been pushing for workplace flexibility since the 1970s and modern companies like Google have been moving in this direction for quite some time. It's typical that any younger generation is on the edge of cultural trends."

A Financially Efficient Alternative

Today's young professionals are saddled with debt and are struggling to make it out of mom and dad's basement. Working from home serves as a financial safe haven in many ways. According to, those who work from home save upwards of $10,000 annually on things like the cost of commute, going out to lunch, professional attire and dry cleaning, snacks, coffee and tax breaks.

Establishing work from home or telecommuting programs also benefits companies. Many businesses are able to save millions on real estate, the cost of relocating employees and the price of managerial workers associated with brick-and-mortar locations. Moreover, employees tend to be more productive while "off the job." According to research by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, removing the time it takes to physically commute to work and the distractions of the office environment enables telecommuters to complete more calls, perform 10 percent more work overall and save companies an average of $1,900 per employee.

However, there's always the question of whether or not this is a positive cultural shift. Are we turning our society into technological recluses, only connected to friends, family and co-workers through a screen? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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