Herman Trend Alert: 24-hour Work Day

Filed under: Opinion |

Over the next few years, more employers will operate longer hours. In some cases, the motivation will be to gain productivity by greater use of the same capital equipment. In other cases, the drive will be to increase sales by being more available to customers when those consumers want to buy or have goods delivered. Part of this availability issue will be to compete with the always-open nature of the internet.

During the slower economic period we have experienced for the past few years, a greater number of shoppers were able to adjust their schedules to visit retailers during whatever hours the retailers set. As more people become employed again, working at different times based on the needs of their employers, retailers and service providers will extend their hours to be available to those customers. To achieve this expanded capacity, these employers will hire more people and manage working hours in new and different ways.

Manufacturers produce goods using capital equipment. As the demand for their products increases, many manufacturing employers will expand their capacity by adding new shifts of workers to use the same equipment for longer periods of time. Some will extend shifts or add one shift; others will move [back] to round-the-clock operations.

The impact of these changes will include more people working during times they might customarily have been sleeping. More people will work during hours that their families are sleeping. Already, an estimated 30 percent of our workforce is working non-standard hours, including night and shift work. As this number increases, employers will take steps to assure safety, attentiveness, quality, and performance. Some may even provide nap rooms for workers, especially for use during the phase when an employee is transitioning from one shift to another.

When night workers are sleeping during the day and other family members are working or at school, service providers such as repair people, lawn maintenance firms, and delivery companies can not function in the same way. People will be expected to be respectful of signs like “Day Sleeper.” Service providers will adjust their hours to respond to these needs.

From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists, copyright 2004. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com.