It was a while ago, but when I worked in offices during internships I was introduced to work hours that were normal for most people. What is this ‘9 to 5 mentality’ and where does it come from?
Working 9 to 5, the times ware so common that there was a song made about them but although the lyrics are really catchy, it does not mean that working 9 to 5 is common to everyone. As I myself work in the film industry at the moment, I often have nightshoots and work often for 12 hours or more a day. Archaeologists often start even earlier, so they can finish before the afternoon heat strikes. So how come 9 to 5 is considered ‘normal’?
The whole nine-to-five-concept dates back from when 9 to 5 were normal officehours. People worked in offices, day in day out and therefore they worked from 9 to 5. When someone is unwilling to work more than the minimal amount of hours, or unwilling to put in a little extra effort one talks of the nine-to-five-mentality. While this sounds great, having the whole night to yourself, the increasing demand on offices and mostly employees means that this mentality is slowly dying as the economy is slowly changing into a 24-hour-economy, as people demand access to everything at all hours. I myself am mostly just really happy I can reach a helpdesk, or the tax offices in the evening when I’m finally at home and able to do some work that involves my personal life. That does include shopping by the way…
24 hours in a day
The 24-hour-economy, a burden or a blessing? The answer mostly depends on who you ask the question. While the concept might seem new to some, it is very common in other industries. Train- and roadworkers have been working at night (to lessen the burden on traffic) for a while, as well as night shifts in hospitals, police stations, and other professions that require round the clock attention. But what about those jobs that have never required it before? Should shopsbe open 24 hours a day? Should a production office, that focuses mainly on making television series? I can tell you, it is no fun to do night-shoots all the time.
So why do people assume that the whole nine-to-five-concept will end? Let’s start with the actual office hours. As the normal office worker works till 5, and still has to do groceries afterwards it is now common for stores to be open till at least 6 or even later. Staying open until 20.00 is not uncommon in Amsterdam, and as big supermarkets want to get more and more customers they even stay open until 22.00! The end of the ‘open till 5’-era can be traced back to this mentality: I have to work until a certain time and afterwards I want to be able to do everything. So other stores have to stay open as well. I must admit that I am part of this thinking. It is nice to go to the movies after work, or grab a bite to eat, or even being able to buy some books in a store or online with the knowledge that I will be home when they arrive. The end of an era is mostly because we demand more luxury, more possibilities, and still claim that because we are paying customers the stores have to listen to our demands.
But what about that other part of the nine-to-five-concept: the nine-to-five-mentality. Why do specialist assume that this will end as well? While the demands might be traceble to some form of egoistic thinking, the mentality is mostly linked to psychological reasons.
Problem 1 would be our ability to concentrate. You might have noticed yourself, but working for several hours has never done any good. I myself collapse after three hours in, and do need a break before my brain fries. On an average note, only 3 or 4 hours a day are spent productively. The rest will be coffee/smoke-breaks, checking social media, chatting with colleagues, and browsing through mail and online. This of course applies for officework, not physical jobs that already often work in 4 hour shifts. As much as the body needs a break so does the mind, and while those 4 hours might be very productive there is the problem of the work schedule versus the type of person you are. Night owls (people who work better during the evening than in the morning) have a hard time coping with 9 to 5 work hours. Working from home, the newest arrangement, works well for night owls who get to sleep in/start slowly and work until late without security kicking you out. Unfortunately, there are many bosses who claim that your morning-issues are just excuses to be tardy and unproductive.
Everybody has a build-in clock. It is the annoying thing that makes you sleepy, even though it is the middle of the day, and what keeps you up at night. However, everyone’s biological clock is different, and everyone reacts to theirs differently. Because of that it is difficult to create a daily pattern that would fit everybody, as this creates ‘Evening people’ and ‘Morning people’. The differences between night owls and larks can be easily seen in daily live, as night owls tend to start work late but work way past the point where the lark would like to collapse. When working in a normal environment this unfortunately creates an issue, as daily society is completely build around the lark. However, considering the earlier mentioned 24 hour society, it might bewise to use the night owl’s abilities to stay up productively till late. I am typin this article at 23.00 o’clock, and am working way better now than I was at 11.00 o’clock. I’m not much of a morning person/a lark, and I now this. That is why I can do a lot of things after work, but I need at least two hours to get my brain starting. Try explaining that to your boss every morning….