Working 9 to 5 has become such a cliché that it just isn’t effective anymore – that is, if you are to believe companies like Pivotal Software, which has become a talking point for their unusual start-time of 9.06am.
That’s not 9am, or even 9.10am – at precisely six minutes past nine, a gong or cowbell sounds to signal the start of the day. At this call-to-action, all employees gather for a brief standing meeting (no longer than 10 minutes), before they start their day’s work.
In the information age, companies such as Pivotal and its Silicon Valley friends have found the formula for success, and it involves a far more agile method of working than many are traditionally used to. Fewer shop fronts, fewer suits, fewer years of experience required to shoot to the top – fewer ‘traditional’ rules in general.
These sort-of new companies have become better at listening – listening to what works for their business, listening to what works for the employees, and never doing anything just because “that’s how we’ve always done it”.
When it comes to working hours, the standard 9am to 5pm seems to be another formality that is becoming outdated. One report found that the ‘millennial’ generation would be more likely to choose a job with better flexibility in their hours than better pay, with others noting that freelancing, self-employment and flexible working were all on the rise (which might be why companies that choose creative benefits for their employees are on the rise).
And, no, starting at precisely 09.06 on the dot isn’t exactly what you might describe as flexible. But it does signify a corporate shift that eschews workplace ‘traditions’ in favour of what produces the best results for the business.
“We thought that if we made it 9am, developers psyching themselves up for the day would think, ‘well if it is 9am I’ll be late,” Pivotal founder Robert Mee told the BBC.
“So then we thought, ‘why don’t we make it 9.05am,’ but that is too precise, as programmers don’t like over-optimising, so we went with 9.06am. Then it became something fun.”
Pivotal currently has 20 offices worldwide, which is proof that you don’t have to be a tiny start-up to instil company policies that break from the norm.
Beginning at 09.06am is just one way to mix up a humdrum working pattern, but ultimately you need to think about the strengths of your business and employees, being brave enough to break the cycle and find a winning formula. Just six minutes can make all the difference.