Half of small business owners have no fixed working hours at all

A smiling small business owner works at a laptop with coffeeA new report from Samsung suggests that the stereotype of the typical small business owners as a person who work around the clock is outdated. Around half of full-time business owners in the UK say they have no fixed work hours at all, preferring a fluid workday set up. One-third (31 percent) of business owners also said they commit to fewer than 7 hours as a typical core working day, preferring to work when optimal to their businesses.

While an early start is popular, with an average clocking on time of 8.21am, burning the midnight oil is now less popular, with an average ‘clocking off time’ of 3.06pm, showing the rewards of efficient working practices. One in five of those polled (20 percent) said they only work when they want to, while just 14 percent stick to a traditional 9-5.

Almost two-fifths (37 percent) of entrepreneurs have taken a working holiday without telling clients, with the practise far more common amongst those aged 25-34 (48 percent) compared to just 20 percent of those over 55. That confidence seems linked to technology, with more than half (51 percent) upgrading their work phone so they can operate anywhere, on their own terms. There is, however, a continuing sense of dedication, with 43 percent of small business owners taking less holiday time, preferring to continue to work from wherever they are.

Mental and emotional wellbeing are major considerations, and there is growing sentiment that work should not be all encompassing even among business owners; 71 percent said they put their family life ahead of their business, with 27 percent saying the same for friends. In a sign of how much the conversation has shifted, half (49 percent) said they prioritise their emotional health ahead of their business.

Modern entrepreneurs aren’t just trying to improve their own work/life balance though, they’re encouraging their staff to do the same. Half (49 percent) let their employees change their working hours to fit in with their lives, a third (35 percent) are happy to let their staff choose their working hours so long as they get the job done, and remarkably, almost a quarter (23 percent) will let staff come in late if they’ve been out the night before. That duty of care is being taken seriously, with 36 percent allowing their employees to take “mental health days” if needed.

The owners detailed the biggest changes to their working lives over the last 5 years as:

  1. Flexible hours (36 percent).
  2. Fewer or no face-to-face meeting (18 percent).
  3. Wearing casual clothes (10 percent).
  4. Working from anywhere (9 percent).

Nearly all respondents perform non-work activities during the traditional “working day.” Self-care is clearly a priority, with three-quarters (74 percent) taking time out to exercise and, almost half (47 percent) to develop a new skill, such as learning a language. In a further uplevelling of work/life balance, respondents spend an average of 1 hour and 12 minutes on household chores, and 39 percent spend up to 2 hours playing with their children. More unusual work-time activities include learning to knit, bathing a pet iguana, attending a football match and 46 percent admit to getting their hair done during their office hours. Apparently far more normal is the habit of napping, with one in five (22 percent) taking daily siestas to help them perform better.