By Daniel Hunter

A survey conducted on behalf of RingCentral UK has found that Britons are working increasingly longer hours as increased customer expectations and flexible working patterns consign the traditional 9-5 to history.

According to new research, a third of us are now working more than 10 hours a day, with a short or no break and are bringing our work life into the home by responding to work emails, texts and calls at 10pm in the evening. More than half (55 %) of those surveyed now work more than 40 hours a week.

Whilst the European Working Time Directive states that the maximum working week should be 48 hours long, the competitiveness of today’s business world and rising client expectations are causing our work patterns to extend longer. In fact, over half of businesses (51 %) believe that customers are becoming more demanding when it comes to getting hold of the right person the first time and getting an urgent response to queries (55 %).

Research conducted by YouGov and commissioned by cloud-based business communications systems firm, RingCentral, found that as working patterns change, more and more companies are seeing the importance of managing a geographically dispersed workforce (68 %), and also believe that providing employees with the ability to work flexibly (78 %) or from home (60 %) are important for employee productivity levels.

The days of fixed office working hours are history. The research reveals that we are now much more open to working in locations other than the office, with 93 % working from home for part of the week and 76 % working while travelling. At the same time, with customers now expecting responses within just three hours, over three-quarters (77 %) of us respond to work emails after 6pm while two-thirds (67 %) of us answer work calls in the evening.

The way we work also affects productivity levels, with 93 % of employees stating that working from home is productive compared to 86 % who consider working in an open-plan office productive. Overall, employees are most productive when working from clients’ offices (95 %).

Lars Nordhild Rønning, General Manager, EMEA at RingCentral UK, said: “Business life has changed dramatically, and companies need to embrace technology that can accommodate these changing work patterns, driven by mobility, agility and client responsiveness. Working life no longer relies on location and traditional office hours, but much more on the customer service you can provide clients, irrespective of where you are.”

Higher than ever client expectations and competing on customer service are two key drivers that have fuelled the evolution of working life. The key factors required most by customers are:

- Good value and reliable service (60 %)
- Getting an urgent response to queries (55 %)
- Consistency (52 %)
- Getting hold of the appropriate person the first time (51 %)

Companies are recognising this trend, and are now adopting more customer-centric working practices. Over a third (37 %) of businesses spend up to five hours a week at client offices, while 83 % frequently spend their time visiting customers or communicating with them via phone and email when out of the office.

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