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Friday, March 01, 2013

Not the 9 to 5

When I first set up the website I felt that the name of the site was self explanatory and would be understood by any readers who came this way. Now I am feeling the time is right to explain what Not The 9 to 5 really means.

9 to 5 is a well known phrase, in the west at least, and is a synecdoche, it is a description of a part of the world of work which stands for the whole of work.

Hearing the phrase 9 to 5 will invoke in many people an image of commuters jammed into a train, suited men walking across Waterloo bridge to the City, people head down hard at work in offices. In the USA it will summon the image of the ubiquitous cubicle familiar to anyone who has seen the Matrix or a Dilbert cartoon. In the UK where our buildings are older they may envisage people chained to their desks. 9 to 5 is a fairly neutral statement but it conjures slightly less than positive ideas of work being a chore.

In the pre-Industrial Age 9 to 5 made sense, daylight was available during those hours for most of the year and very little work could be done by candle light. Then the invention of machinery and electricity made it possible to work through the night but tradition and the need to interact with other workers meant that change didn't happen. Now we have connectivity and can interact with workers on the other side of the planet if we wish and 9 to 5 really makes very little sense. People working in London may have to work with people in Tokyo at 7am or San Francisco at 11pm, should they really be asked to work all the hours between? If your colleagues are a thousand miles away is it necessary to be in an office in central London or can you work just as well from home in the country?

In past jobs I have often felt how strange it is that bosses are happy for their staff to clock in at nine and out at five with very little regard for what they did in between. I knew staff who were penalised for not being at their desk on time or for leaving early and yet anyone working beyond those hours was never praised and anyone who achieved a lot in that time was given no more benefit than someone who slacked through the day. Seems a funny way to run a business to me.

I recently wrote on my other blog about ways in which the world of work is changing, hopefully for the better, in that some people believe a business should be measured not just by its bottom line but also on the good, or bad, it does in the world. The way employees are treated and feel about the company would be one of these measures. For now we live in a world in which there is almost nothing that is not business. Your health, wealth and free time are all tied to someone's business somewhere. How you meet, court and marry is now monetised. How you travel is almost never free, even walking costs shoe leather. Without money there is nothing in the modern world.

And yet we are still, by and large, tied to the 9 to 5 day. From shops and schools to doctors and bankers the majority live in the 9 to 5 world. But there are others breaking out.

Teleworkers, using home technology to 'be' at work any time of day. Crafters and inventors working in their sheds building beautiful things, people with big ideas about becoming Free Range, Multipotentialites or Paid-to-Exist. For many people there is no longer a need to be a cardboard cut out, boxed and packaged automaton or cog. And these roles don't need to be for internet geniuses. Any idea, any pursuit, any handmade item can be a success with very little start up funding.

Of course, Yahoo seems to disagree. But I planned this post last night and then saw this on my Twitter feed this afternoon:

 So Not The 9 to 5 is a blog about all those other opportunities, ways of working, places to work and ways to monetise your life for yourself not some remote boss who has nothing in common with you. For anyone sick of being a desk jockey, anyone who wants meaning in their work, anyone fed up of being a nameless cog in a faceless machine, anyone wanting to break out and do things their way, the posts on this blog and the links on the Twitter feed are for you, they may be inspiration, information, advice or other resources but I hope that through them you will find a new way to work - Not The 9 to 5.

Laura. (Don't forget our motto - No Link Is An Island - when you follow a link and arrive at a new website have a clickabout and see what else is on offer.)

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