Maybe you thought it was only you. After all, entrepreneurship has long been known to be a gig with long, unpredictable hours--no one starts a business and expects to work 9 to 5. Maybe you were under the illusion that there were lots of cushy, salaried gigs out there from which you could completely check out when the clock struck 5 (maybe you daydreamed about them in your darker hours).

If so, a new CareerBuilder survey will set you straight. It shows that the standard workday is a dying breed.

The pollsters spoke to 1,000 full-time employees, in sectors like IT, sales, and business services that traditionally often had set hours, asking them about their schedules and work patterns. Well over half of respondents (63 percent) told CareerBuilder that the idea of a 9-to-5 workday is “an outdated concept.” Half respond to emails outside of work, and 38 percent work in a more general way outside traditional business hours. Around a quarter (24 percent) check work emails while hanging out with family and friends.

Is this workaholism …

In many senses, these results are no shock at all. They come on the heels of another survey showing that striking the right balance between work and life is becoming harder, and generally reinforce a tsunami of anecdotal evidence that workers are increasingly glued to their smartphones at all hours (any trip to a restaurant or coffee shop can tell you that). The trend is far enough advanced that we're even starting to see a backlash against this always-on work culture, including companies going to extreme lengths to get employees to periodically unplug, as well as public handwringing by experts about the downsides of continuous connectivity.

But while basically no one is arguing with the conclusion that we're working outside traditional office hours, the question of how big a problem this is--if it's a problem at all--remains hotly contested.

To the extent that working weird hours is a sign of workaholism, pretty much every expert out there warns it's not healthy, including neuroscientists and productivity experts, who warn that never taking a break is bad for both your brain and your productivity.

… Or healthy flexibility?

But not everyone sees working at untraditional times as necessarily a sign of unhealthy overwork. Some stress the flexibility in schedule and location our new gadget-heavy work culture buys us, rather than the fact that our total hours working may be spiking.

And while research shows that ignoring your loved ones to check your phone definitely damages your relationships (even if it's only for a quick glance), others, such as the New York Times' Farhad Manjoo, point out that phone-enabled flexibility in our work hours allows many to be better, more engaged parents overall.

When you weigh all the pros and cons, what's your conclusion--is the death of the traditional 9-to-5 an invitation to workaholism and exploitation of employees, or an empowering shift toward flexibility and self-determination for workers?

Published on: Jul 24, 2015