Punctuality, long considered a hallmark of respect and professionalism, is facing a radical redefinition thanks to Generation Z. For many older Americans, arriving late is a sign of disrespect, but Gen Z seems to have a different take. They believe arriving ten minutes late is essentially the same as being on time.

A staggering 46% of those aged 16 to 26 see being five to ten minutes late as perfectly acceptable, equating it with punctuality. This tolerance sharply declines with age. Around 39% of millennials (aged 27 to 42) are forgiving of tardiness up to ten minutes. For Generation X (aged 43 to 58), this drops to 26%, and only 20% of Baby Boomers (aged 59 and over) agree.

Seven out of ten Baby Boomers express zero tolerance for any lateness, with 69% firmly stating that “late is late.” In stark contrast, just 21% of Gen Z shares this sentiment, highlighting a clear generational divide.

This shift isn’t just in social settings but extends to professional environments as well. A report from The Mail on Sunday earlier this year revealed that a staggering 93% of Gen Z job applicants admitted to not showing up for an interview. Some even cite “time blindness,” linked to attention deficit disorder, as a reason for their chronic lateness.

A recent study by Meeting Canary surveyed 1,016 British adults on their attitudes towards punctuality. Only 38% agreed with the old adage favored by sports commentator Alan Shearer: “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. And to be late is unacceptable.” Among all age groups, 33% would accept someone being five to ten minutes late, and 9% find it acceptable to be 11 to 15 minutes late.

Laura van Beers, founder of Meeting Canary, observed, “It appears that being ten minutes late is now the equivalent of being on time, especially for the younger generation who are clearly more forgiving about time-keeping. Their attitudes have brought a new interpretation to the meaning of punctuality. Older people are much more likely to arrive five minutes early to make sure they are on time, whereas younger people seem to aim to be not more than ten minutes late to be considered on time.”

This study underscores how younger generations are redefining punctuality, reflecting broader changes in social norms. While older generations emphasize strict adherence to schedules, younger people embrace a more relaxed approach, prioritizing flexibility and understanding.

The clash between traditional and modern views on punctuality is becoming increasingly evident in workplaces and social settings. Older generations, who value timeliness as a sign of respect and reliability, may find it challenging to adapt to this more lenient approach. On the other hand, Gen Z’s flexible attitude towards time-keeping could foster a more relaxed and understanding environment, albeit at the cost of potentially eroding long-held standards of professionalism.

As these generational attitudes toward punctuality evolve, it will be fascinating to see how workplaces and social norms adapt. Will Gen Z’s relaxed approach become the new standard, or will traditional views on punctuality prevail? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: the concept of being “on time” is undergoing a significant transformation, and this change is set to spark heated debates across generations.

In the end, the clash over punctuality is more than just about being late or on time—it’s about the broader shifts in values and expectations that define each generation. Whether you view this change as a breath of fresh air or a worrying trend, it’s an issue that’s sure to keep the conversation going.