Wave goodbye to the nine-to-five worker

The majority of global bosses are happy for staff to turn up late for work, according to new research. Mobile technology, including smartphone apps and cloud services, now means that bosses are surprisingly supportive of a flexible workforce - more than most employees realise.

The majority of global bosses are happy for staff to turn up late for work, according to new research. Mobile technology, including smartphone apps and cloud services, now means that bosses are surprisingly supportive of a flexible workforce - more than most employees realise.

The findings found 73 per cent of bosses have a relaxed attitude to time keeping, as they trust their staff are working long before they actually get to the office. Yet this will come as a shock to most workers as more than half of employees are under the impression that their bosses definitely will mind if they are late.


The average boss would be willing to turn a blind eye to employees being up to 33 minutes late and let staff spend a quarter of the week working from home. However, British bosses are the strictest, wanting late-running workers at their desks no later than 24 minutes into the working day, whilst US employers take the most relaxed view, tolerating their staff turning up to 37 minutes late in the day. Irish employers are the second most lenient with 63 per cent allowing lateness – 30 per cent will accept only up to 15 minutes late and 25 per cent up to 30 minutes late. Anything over an hour is generally unacceptable by Irish employers. However, 54 per cent of Irish employees surveyed did not think their employees accepted late arrivals at all.

Mobile tools

The death knell of the nine-to-five worker has been rung by mobile technology, with three quarters of employers giving employees tools to get their jobs done wherever they are. However, just 11 per cent of employers tool their workers up to be able to access everything on the move - which would allow people even more freedom. 70 per cent of Irish employers provide access to email and only 25 per cent give access to all company resources.

Email in bed

The study confirms the long-held suspicion that the urge to check emails first thing in the morning is overwhelming for some: by 7.00am, one in five employees worldwide has already checked their email. Some nations, however, prefer a gentler start to the day. Compared to a third of all British employees who log in by 6.30am, just five per cent of Irish employees are firing up their email at the same hour. The study shows that Irish employees are the latest to log in with 75% logging in from 8.00 am, 60 per cent of those from 8.30am and after.

Give and take

Whilst the majority of employers are happy for staff to start their days later, in return they’re looking for flexibility from their employees and when they wind down for the night. The fluid approach to working hours means that many employers are now comfortable with calling after hours, with 80 per cent saying they think it’s acceptable to call staff in the evening. The research shows that French bosses are the most considerate and stop calling the earliest; 43 per cent draw the line at calling after 7.00pm. 55 per cent of Irish employers draw the line between 8:00pm and 9:00pm, while 16 per cent of UK employers, on the other hand, think it is acceptable to call workers between 10.00pm and midnight!

The real nine-to-five

Employers demonstrate further evidence that behaviours have changed beyond recognition by underestimating the amount of work that employees are doing away from their desks. As a whole, they believe their employees spend an average of 55 minutes a day working away from the office, when infact, the average employee has already clocked up 46 minutes before they even arrive at the office. 39 per cent of Irish employees surveyed work an hour or more before arriving into work, with 65 per cent of Irish employers thinking that workers put in less than an additional hour a day in total.

What does the new nine-to-five look like? The global results show that the average person starts checking their work email at 7.42am, gets into the office at 8.18am, leaves the office at 5.48pm and stops working fully at 7.19pm, meaning employees are “in work mode” for nearly 12 hours a day.

Taking a relaxed attitude

Bosses are taking a laid-back approach to more than just punctuality, as personal tasks creep into the office day. 45 per cent of Irish bosses (37 per cent of bosses globally) are happy for employees to take longer lunches, and half of Irish employers surveyed (in contrast to a quarter of global employers) are OK with staff downing tools to enjoy office banter and regular tea breaks. And Irish bosses are twice as likely as British bosses to allow employees to leave early for the pub at the end of the day.

Thirteen per cent of employers even claim they are fine with employees carrying out personal tasks like online banking, food shopping and paying bills while at their desks - with the American and Irish bosses being most relaxed (22 per cent and 20 per cent) and the British being the most stringent (8 per cent).

On the flip side, over half of employees think nothing of leaving work early for a doctor’s appointment, with nearly one in five (18 per cent) eating breakfast at the desk, or taking time out to research holidays or do their shopping (21 per cent).

Top personal tasks creeping onto the Irish office to-do list

Leaving work early for the doctor or dentist (67%)

Personal phone calls (61%)

Regular tea and coffee breaks (41%)

Online banking (41%)

Sending personal emails (40%)

Chatting to colleagues (39%)

Taking a long lunch to get a few things done (33%)

Leaving work early for a child’s performance at school (28%)

Having breakfast at work (28%)

Paying a few bills (26%)

Using Facebook and Twitter (20%)

Listening to music (19%)

Researching things to buy online (15%)

Researching holidays (13%)

Reading newspapers and magazines (11%)

Calling customer complaints (9%)

Brushing teeth (9%)

Online shopping (8%)

Showering after cycling / running /gym (8%)

Playing lottery (6%)

Interviewing for new jobs (6%)

Looking up recipes for dinner (5%)

Writing personal blog (5%)

Online food shop (5%)

Starting business/side jobs (5%)

Reading gossip online (4%)

Online dating (4%)

Watching sport (4%)

Organising music playlist/book clubs (3%)

Skyping friends/family (2%)