When Did 9-5 Become a Thing?


Senior management knows that 9-5 work hours is a myth among fresh meat. 9-5 was brought in during the 70’s when the workforce was booming with opportunities and the 80’s launched massive amounts of venture projects. Today however, with the economy and any position with a whiff of prestige, you can bet you will be getting calls, texts, and emails at all hours of the day and night. Do you have to respond to them all?- No, have some boundaries. Should you keep a watchful eye to discern your “out of office hours”, yes. The new work hours are 7:30am-9pm. You may leave the office at 5pm, but likely you are unofficially on the clock long after.

So today, when I was chatting with a former VP Recruiter with stellar personality who had contacted me just minutes before midnight for a meet and greet, I was thrilled to chat with someone who really understood the complexity of senior positions, how to be flexible, and still have a life. “We don’t do the work phone.” He said smiling, “The work phone is for a position that is usually on some sort of averaging agreement, or a very senior position that entails a sweetened benefit package. You can expect up to 1/3 extra is salary for being on call 24/7 with ample stress leave and an expense budget.” So what happens when your company doesn’t honour the time you’ve put in with them? “You leave. They are taking advantage of you and it certainly will play out in one way or another.” He’s right. It always does. Above all, it helps to really know yourself so you can be honest with your employer. I have a run and crash pattern in my work. I work super hard, I can be on 24/6, (always need one day free or I go crazy), and I do magic at my job, save multiple hundred of thousands in the HR department, and avoid legal issues that would piss off most union reps. But when I work like this all the time, you can bet in 2-3 months, I need a week off. I need time to recoup, obtain a version of sanity, and do some self care. So why is everyone pushing themselves into jobs they can’t handle? Our culture has created a norm, note the singularity in the conjugation. “A” norm. There are several norms for us as people. Some of us can work 8am-84pm and others love a split shift, part from home, and the other part from 2am-5am. But there is a norm for you, you just need to be honest with yourself, your employer, and not trick yourself into believing that there is something wrong with you because you can’t do 24/7 or 9-5.

Today, “thank you economy”, it is an employers market. This is putting an extreme amount of pressure on candidates to succeed in their job applications, interviews, and work performance. This translates into them saying “yes” to just about anything in an interview, and being most agreeable on the job. Issue: it leads to faster burn out, more sick time being taken, more socializing on company time (because they need more time to debrief, and increased moral support), and the stats go up for late time, availability, and bitterness towards their job. Remind me again why some companies bully their employees into saying yes? It really doesn’t work for anyone. How to avoid this?- it’s risky, but either negotiate with your employer, or hold out for a great job. It can cost you, but chances are you and your employer will be glad you did.


One thought on “When Did 9-5 Become a Thing?

  1. The tragedy is that our obsessive lust for material success has brought society to a point where what you describe is in any way viewed as “a norm.” It’s a bit like saying leprosy is a norm. In a leper colony, perhaps it might be, but in the larger context it’s a destructive disease. And so, too, are many of our social “norms.”

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