another reason 9to5 doesn't work

ross and i are in a war against the 9to5 work schedule. i think we’re just two soldiers in a battle that’s been going on for a long time, but we’re definitely in it. 

the obsessed with design episode with lauren hom touched on another reason why i think 9to5 work schedules don’t work.

around the 20-minute mark in the episode, lauren discusses how her work schedules changes from day to day. for creatives*, it’s just unreasonable to assume that everyone is productive between 9a and 5p everyday. lauren said that sometimes early morning is great. other times, you get a flash of creative inspiration and you want to work all night. when you have a 9to5 job, you have to squash those potentially productive hours to sleep so that you can show up at your desk and putz around trying to make yourself look productive. at one point she said “i felt like i was spending most of my time trying to look productive instead of actually being productive.” i feel her on that one and there are plenty of studies about regardless of how many hours we clock, we’re still can only achieve a certain level of productivity.

now, the 9to5 work schedule made sense as a protection for workers who were being overworked (more history in my other post over here). having a maximum number of hours in a day you could expect someone to work is great when everyone makes widgets or is supervising people making widgets. but knowledge workers no longer make widgets in that way and as automation continues to expands, fewer and fewer people will work jobs that having them working in a widget-making sort of way (did you see that mcdonald’s is automating more and more parts of its stores now? i think the line that it’s because of the fight for 15 is a myth; they were gonna do this anyways, but it’s really great story to blame the workers for their own job loss instead of the fact that the automation is more profitable…)

more flexible work hours would allow more people to be productive when they’re maximally productive. i think it would also have the effect of making “vacation” time less important as a balancing force. because who needs vacation when you can vacation a little every day? i’m not saying that taking long stretches of time off isn’t important (they really are and those long breaks are where i find some of my best inspiration and have major breakthroughs), but i do think that the vacation as an antidote to working is problematic. people are happiest when they’re doing meaningful work. pitting vacation/leisure tie against working time to me is not actually what we want to be doing.


relevant resources:

*note: “creatives” is a term i don’t like, but still use because it’s easier, conveys meaning quickly, and i haven’t found a better word. i don’t like it because i think all people are inherently creative and that creativity is the only thing people have to keep themselves doing meaningful work when the robots come, heh.