Cloud and mobile apps free us from 9-to-5 working

The advent of mobile apps and cloud services has brought flexibility to workplaces around the world, as nearly three quarters of bosses have no problem with employees arriving late for work, confident that they will have been working elsewhere. In fact, the evolution of employer attitudes to flexible working has even outpaced the expectations of the workforce: more than half of employees still believe their bosses will take issue if they aren’t at their desks on time.

The findings emerged in a study of 1,000 US, British, German, French and Irish employees and employers, which found that 73 per cent of bosses have a relaxed attitude to time keeping, as they trust their staff are working long before they get to the office. The average boss is willing to turn a blind eye to employees being up to 32 minutes late and let staff spend up to a quarter of the week working from home.

This has been driven by the growth in the use of mobile technology. Three quarters of employers now give mobile tools to their teams to empower them to get their work done wherever they are, and relaxed attitudes to working patterns move in correlation to the availability of mobile tools. However, just 11 per cent of workers are able to access everything on the move that they can in the office, meaning there is still room for growth.

The survey highlighted a blended approach to the work-life balance with workers starting and ending their working days well beyond the time spent in the office. However, they expect to be able to carry out more personal tasks during the working day and to extend their breaks to give them the freedom to enjoy social activities or complete chores.

The survey showed that the days of working 9 to 5 are long behind us. The average person starts checking their work email at 7:42 a.m., gets into the office at 8:18 a.m., leaves the office at 5:48 p.m. and stops working fully at 7:19 p.m.

Mobility makes it OK to be late

73 per cent of bosses are relaxed about time keeping

Mobile technology makes bosses more supportive of flexible working than employees realize.

Nearly three quarters of bosses are OK for the members of their teams to arrive for work later than their set hours as they believe that their employees will have been working long before they get to their desks.

This is in fact true: 60 per cent of workers check their email before 8:30 in the morning and 60 per cent check it after 6:30 in the evening.

On average, it was shown that employees could show up for work as much as 32 minutes late before their employers started to believe they were being taken advantage of.

How many minutes late can your employees turn up to work before you start to think that their behavior is inappropriate?

Graph 9to5 Tardiness

What is an acceptable number of days for someone who is not a designated home worker to work from home per week?

Graph 9to5 Working From Home

On average, how many minutes work have you put in by the time you reach the office?

Graph 9to5 Work Before Arrival

British bosses offered the least flexibility, wanting employees at their desks no later than 24 minutes after they were due to start, while US employers were the most tolerant of late arrivals, forgiving staff for being 37 minutes late, on average. German bosses were most likely to demand absolute punctuality with 40 per cent requiring on-the-dot attendance.

Women are 20 per cent more likely than men to want their staff in on time, while men are twice as likely as women to allow team members to turn up more than two hours late.

In addition to later start times, bosses are flexible about days when employees aren’t able to come in at all, with the average employer letting staff work from home for a quarter of the business week.

Technology drives change

72 per cent of employers provide tools to help employees work remotely

Nearly three quarters of employers give their staff tools to enable their teams to get their jobs done wherever they are.

As you would expect, there is a correlation between the ability to work flexibly and the amount of time that an employee puts in after hours. For example, the Germans, who are the least likely to be given remote working tools (31 per cent aren’t able to access anything away from their desks), are the most likely to stop checking their emails at 5:00 p.m. (34 per cent).

What resources can your employees access remotely?

Graph 9to5 Remote Access

What time do you look at the last of your work/work emails on a normal working day?

Graph 9 5 Last Email Check Uk Ie

Just 11 per cent of employers allow their teams to access everything that they need to do their jobs remotely, limiting the extent to which they can benefit from flexible working.

Early-morning emailers

What time do you tend to log on to your work email on a normal working day?

The urge to check emails first thing in the morning is overwhelming for many, with the report finding that one in five will have logged in to their email by 7:00 a.m.

Men tend to be more likely than women to reach for their smartphones from bed with over 40 per cent checking messages by 7:30 a.m. compared with 25 per cent of women.

Graph 9to5 Email Login Time

There are also differences internationally with some countries preferring a gentler start to the day. Compared to a quarter of Brits who log in by 6:30 a.m., just 13 per cent of French employees are checking the smartphone at the same time of day.

Flexibility is about give and take

Employers expect workers to be available after hours

While the majority of employers are fine with their staff starting their days later, in return they’re looking for flexibility over when they wind down for the night. Because of their relaxed attitude to attendance, many bosses are now comfortable with calling after hours. Eighty per cent say that they think it’s acceptable to call staff in the evening.

What is the latest time that you would feel comfortable to call your employee about a work issue?

Graph 9to5 Latest Call

French bosses are the most considerate when it comes to calling and stop earlier than employers in other nations: the average French cut-off time is 6:57 p.m. By contrast nearly half (48.2 per cent) of British bosses have no problem calling after 7 p.m., and in Ireland the average too-late-to-call time is 7:36 p.m. Hate to be employees of the 1.4 per cent of bosses globally who have no issue with calling after midnight!

8:18 to 5:48 is the new 9:00 to 5:00

Blended working causes a shift in working patterns

The days of working 9 to 5 are being replaced by new working patterns that see employees not only working more when they’re out of the office but also spending more time at their desks, too.

Just as workers underestimated the amount of flexibility employers are willing to give in terms of start times, employers are also underestimating the amount of time that workers spend completing tasks in their own time. Further evidence that flexible working is growing faster than anyone appreciates.

As a whole, employers thought that their employees were putting in an average of 55 minutes a day working away from the office. In reality, employees had clocked up a mean of 46 minutes of extra work before they had even reached their desks in the morning.

Graph 9to5 The New 9to5

In addition to logging on early, employees are also logging off late, with the average employee not stopping work fully until 7:19 p.m. Workers in all the countries surveyed spent between nine and ten hours in the office and 11 and 12 hours checking mail, but there are regional differences over when and where those hours are put in.

Brits start and stop the earliest (7:17 a.m. for the first email check and an office departure at 5:32 p.m.) while the Irish start and stop the latest (8:39 a.m. office arrival, 8:02 p.m. for the last email check). But the Americans are online the longest—11 hours and 56 minutes.

Overall, the global results show that the average person starts checking their work email at 7:42 a.m., gets into the office at 8:18 a.m., leaves the office at 5:48 p.m. and stops working fully at 7:19 p.m.

It’s not all work, work, work

What’s deemed OK in the office is changing

The research found that it’s not just working hours that employers have become relaxed about, safe in the knowledge that employees are working elsewhere. A large number of tasks that may have been considered taboo in the past are now seen by many as acceptable practices at work today.

Regular breaks (53 per cent) and extended breaks (37 per cent), having a chat (36 per cent) and carrying out chores such as paying bills and shopping online (13 per cent) all featured highly on the list of personal tasks that employers are fine to be featured in their workers’ days.

US bosses are most likely to be OK with their employees taking time out to catch up with their friends. American employers are two-and-a-half times (41 per cent) as likely as the Brits to allow workers to make personal phone calls from their desks and twice as likely (21 per cent) to allow the use of social networking sites.

Despite typically working the latest, Irish employees are the most likely to be allowed to leave early to hit the bars, with bosses 50 per cent more likely than average to be OK with this. Brits, on the other hand, are the least likely to be allowed to check out early to get to the pub and half as likely as Americans to be able to linger over a long lunch.

Having already put in the hours before reaching their desks, employees are also feeling justified in enjoying a bit of flexibility in the workplace and over 90 per cent are adding personal tasks to their office to-do lists.

Top 30 personal tasks employees feel it's OK to do at work:

  1. Leaving early for the doctor or dentist
  2. Personal phone calls
  3. Regular tea/coffee/water-cooler breaks
  4. Chatting with colleagues
  5. Sending a few personal emails
  6. Taking a long lunch
  7. Online banking
  8. Leaving work early for a child’s performance at school
  9. Paying a few bills
  10. Listening to music
  11. Having breakfast
  12. Reading newspapers/magazines
  13. Using social media
  14. Calling customer complaints
  15. Researching things you want to buy online
  16. Brushing teeth
  17. Researching holidays
  18. Online shopping
  19. Food shopping online
  20. Showering after cycling/running/gym
  21. Looking up recipes
  22. Playing the lottery
  23. Reading online gossip
  24. Writing personal blogs
  25. Interviewing for new jobs
  26. Starting a business/side jobs
  27. Organizing music playlists
  28. Watching sports
  29. Video conferencing
  30. Online dating

Mobility drives freedom

Mobile and cloud services have changed working life

More benefits are yet to be realized. The survey found that there is a direct correlation between being given the tools to work anywhere (such as mobile access to files) and the inclination of employees to continue working past their set hours. Germans, who are given the least access to information on the move, are the most likely to switch off as soon as the working day is over.

There is also a direct correlation between the amount of freedom given to workers in the office and how much personal time they give up to complete work tasks. The British, whose bosses allow them the least freedom in the office to carry out personal tasks, spend the least time working when they’re out of the office.

In conjunction, allowing flexibility in the office and providing workers with the cloud and mobile applications they need to carry out their roles from wherever they are, encourages workers to give the most. Americans, who are given the most flexibility during their working hours, spend the most time working out of hours as well as the most time in the office.

Equally, employees see benefits in return as they are better able to juggle the demands of their personal lives by working from locations and at times that suit them best.

The concept of working 9 to 5 seems to have eroded from the consciousness of the respondents to the survey with neither employers nor employees expecting work to be contained in this way anymore. However, neither group fully appreciated the scale of the flexibility that the other was prepared to (or currently did) offer.

Finally, the report suggests that both employers and employees still have more to gain from the growing role of technology in the workplace. The findings showed that just 11 per cent of people had access to enough tools to completely carry out their role remotely.

Of course, it’s never going to be possible for everyone to do their job from everywhere, but there appears to be a great deal of untapped opportunity for mobile and cloud tools to drive more benefits both for employers and employees.


In 2012, Mozy surveyed 500 employers and 500 employees in the USA, UK, Ireland, France and Germany regarding the use of technology and working patterns within their organizations.

The survey was conducted independently by Vanson Bourne, on behalf of Mozy, the world’s most trusted provider of online backup solutions.

Click here to find out more about Mozy and its tools for mobile data access and online data backup.