22/07/2013 07:30 BST | Updated 18/09/2013 06:12 BST

The Disappearance of the Nine -Fivers


The way people work in the UK is changing. The days of 9 to 5 are a thing of the past. As a nation, we are at a stage where services are open 24/7 from gyms, restaurants, supermarkets and dry cleaners - all of them are available around the clock. Well, when there are customers lining up and cash to be made, why would they close?

The impulse to work out at 3am isn't just for gym junkies; normal people are working more abnormal hours than ever before and our body-clocks have adapted to keep up with the pace of modern life. One person's 6am may be the next person's 6pm, depending on their profession.

Businesses on different sides of the world, in different time zones, need to communicate instantly and the digitalization of business with the advancement of smartphones and tablets has meant that the working day has stretched out. It's now acceptable to send emails day-and-night so we're never really switching off. There is always work to be done; neither employers nor employees can afford to put a company to bed at 5pm, and expect it to be ready for work at 9am the next day. We're no longer tethered to the desk; we're more mobile and reactive at all times, and focusing on the social elements of work during 'working hours' means that evenings and mornings are free for paperwork and correspondence.

But what does this mean for the average employee?

It's time to ask your boss about flexible work. This isn't an excuse to stay at home and watch The Jeremy Kyle Show, but more about taking advantage of burgeoning advances in technology and changes in business practice. Flexibility in the timeframe of your working day allows you to have a better work/life balance, provided you still work! For instance starting at 11am, rather than 9am, and finding the best time for you to work as an individual, will also give you time to drop the kids off at school, do a food shop and go to the gym. All before leaving for work.

This is how the new generation of workers have become used to operating. Young millennials have all been working this way through university and have the same expectation of the modern world of work.

So who is encouraging this new working pattern?

Strangely enough, the Government. They've seen flexible work in other countries and recognized its success. They've even put together an online resource, to help you raise the benefits of flexible working with your boss. Research into the effects of new working patterns have shown that they increase employee satisfaction, as well as physical and mental health. Allowing more flexibility in the workplace won't only make staff happier, but healthier and able to get more done in a day. Flexible working is a way of encouraging individual employees to get the most out of their job, so even if you work for a larger firm, don't think that it isn't an option.

A fad, or here to stay?

We've had beanbags at work and the powers that be have fengshui'd our boardrooms. Maybe flexible working is just another working fad? Not likely. It has been enshrined in law the world over and there are now more services to cater for irregular hours than ever before. A Government white paper even stated that flexible working could save the economy as much as £52.4m a year. It is being promoted by the Government to help every office worker in the UK, encouraging them to work at their own tempo. If every employee approached their boss about flexible working, the figure of £52.4m would increase, showing the real power of collective action from frontline staff. The advantages are clear for all to see and thankfully it is getting easier for people to work when and where is most productive.