Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Lisa and Graham served on the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce from 2000 to 2017

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What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week?

Yesterday, I received an invite to a community meeting that takes place next Monday morning at 10:30; the meeting is for people aged over 55 - that's retired people, and also men who are still working (but into their last 10 years), and women who are into their final stretch too. It's a consultation meeting, that's been designed to be inclusive in reaching everyone in the target group, and yet it's happening during the "9 to 5 week", which is when a substantial sector of the target market isn't available, and I queried it.

"There is also statistical information that more and more people are working flexible/unsocial hours ..." says the reply I received. Yes - I was aware of that, at least in anecdotal form. But I still would like to know what proportion of people work something approximating to a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday week; if it's now just 10%, then it's fair enough for non-work meetings to be held during the day. But if it's a majority, then I feel that the meeting times are misguided.

"We are living in a changing world so it is becoming more important for us to be as flexible as possible in the planning of meeting." Indeed we must consider the changes, but we shouldn't schedule our meetings to be at a time that will be good for people in 10 years if the meeting is taking place this year.

Clearly, the meeting organiser and I have a difference of opinion, so I set out to answer the question What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? ... and it's surprisingly hard to find an answer. What evidence / data did I find?

Train start times v loading (Transwilts in white)Here's my first attempt at the question. This is for rail commuters (who are a subset of the working population ...) and I've worked with the assumption that their working pattern will be broadly similar to that of people who travel by bus, car and ferry to work. The diagram shows start of journey times, and it shows that there are five times the loadings at the times people will travel to start work at 9, and on leaving at 5, than at other times of day. So that's suggesting around 80% of the working population on a 9 to 5 day.

What about looking at the times that the shops are busy? I couldn't find a UK study, but I did find this American one which shows trends that I've noticed in the UK - crowds at weekends, and early evening. Quiet in the middle of the weekday. And a bevy of people rushing and making small purchases around 8 a.m. - "on their way to work". So that's evidence that supports my train journey evidence; it's not as scientific, but we could probably conclude that a figure og 60% to 80% of the working population is on a 9 to 5 working day.

This EU study and this longer one look at trends and work hours. "Standard working time arrangements - a five-day week of 40 hours, worked Monday to Friday - is still the norm for most Europeans" they conclude, with figures ranging from between 61% and 77% in the more detailed text. There are also interesting diagrams in the second link concerning the number / proportions of people working evenings and weekends, split doeen by sector. Only in Hotels / Catering do a significant proportion work more that 5 evenings per month, and only in hotels and agriculture to a lot work most Sundays. For Saturdays, you can add 25% of retail staff to the tourism and farming brigade.


Conclusion? Two thirds of the working population still does a 9 to 5 day. And to call a consultation meeting during a normal working day at which you exclude the majority of this group when your publicity says you're looking to be all inclusive is misguided at best, and devious at worst. I have a suspicion that the organizer really only wants to get retired people along, hoping they'll enjoy free tea and cakes and give support for his views to be put forward as the meeting's conclusion. People like myself, wanting to ask questions and make sure things are looked at properly, are something of a nuisance to due process which is concerned at getting tics in boxes ...
(written 2011-03-01, updated 2011-03-04)

 
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