Nine to five

I remember a couple of songs from my childhood—Dolly Parton’s Nine To Five and Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel—that featured the idea of working from 9am to 5pm in their lyrics.

Entering the professional world of work was, therefore, something of a let-down for me: the nominal hours were always longer, and no one ever left on time.

However, now, for pretty much the first time in my life, I’m working in a job in which I get in around 9 and leave around 5:30 (plus or minus about 30 minutes day by day) and, well, it’s great.

But here’s the thing: I’m getting more done than ever before. Because I know that I can leave at a sensible time, I don’t need to fill in the hours looking busy. I am busy. And then I go home, and I still have a whole evening to do whatever I want.

The only thing I don’t understand is this: how did things get so bad that getting up, going to work, doing work, and going home become something that I feel is worth celebrating? Is the software industry especially bad, or is the toxic culture of presenteeism and conspicuous workaholism more widespread?

If I ran a company, I’d be sending my employees home on time every day. I’m sure it’s good for business.


  1. James Adam

    Wrote at 2014-06-30 22:11 UTC using Chrome 35.0.1916.114 on Mac OS X:

    My main problem with 9-5 (other than the fact that I’m not a morning person) is that in a big city, you’re competing for transport resources (space, basically) with every other person who wants to work 9-5 and leave on time. For me, that’s not worth it, and I’d far rather work 10-6 (or something even wilder) to avoid the rush hours.

    I can see that some people working later might inadvertently promote the expectation that everyone should stay as late as each other, but I wonder if there are other solutions to help mitigate presentee-ism without requiring your employees to go over the wall into the commuter melée every day.
  2. James Ladd

    Wrote at 2014-06-30 22:36 UTC using Chrome 35.0.1916.153 on Linux:

    >>If I ran a company, I’d be sending my employees home on time
    >>every day. I’m sure it’s good for business.
    Id like to see you do that in the face of loosing a contract or penalties for late delivery – also bad for employees = no job.
    Of course it can be achieved and I like your optimism.

    BTW – Sheena Easton would be a big supporter.
    – James.