modern careers

Why the 9 to 5 Office Worker Will Become a Thing of the Past

The Natural Productivity Cycle

In your personal life, when attending to business or working on side projects, how often do you spend 8 consecutive hours in front of a computer? It doesn’t make sense because we lose the ability to concentrate effectively within a few hours.

Everyone goes through alternating periods of high and low mental acuity. There are days when I work on personal projects for well over 8 hours, but the time is always divided into multiple sessions. I might spend a few hours coding a design, a few hours writing, and a few hours reading feeds, moderating comments, and responding to email.

I work this way because it aligns with my mental energy cycle. Any more than 3 hours in front of a computer and my eyes start hurting and I become restless. I lose the ability to do my best work. Instead of forcing myself to continue, I switch to an activity that allows my mind to recharge. These breaks maximize productivity by eliminating down periods. It’s counter productive to force work when the mental energy isn’t there.

The Problem with an 8 Hour Work Day

A continuous 8 hour work day is a relic of the past. It makes sense for physical labor and manufacturing work, but with information workers it doesn’t account for the mental energy cycle. The ability of a factory worker to think analytically is irrelevant, he’s either cranking widgets or he isn’t.

In the case of the modern information worker, nearly all tasks involve creative or strategic thinking. The way someone answers an email or interprets a piece of information can differ drastically depending on his or her energy level. Nobody does their best work 5:30 in the afternoon after they’ve been sucking down coffee all day to stay awake.

I can’t speak for all workers, but I’ve observed that productivity levels generally peak twice a day — first thing in the morning and shortly after lunch. The most productive period is the beginning of the day. People are capable of creative tasks like writing and solving complex technical problems. After a couple hours of intense work, energy levels drop and workers downgrade to less demanding tasks like responding to email and tinkering with existing creations. Towards the end of the cycle, the mind is so cluttered and drained that workers resort to “work related activities” that appear productive but don’t contribute to the bottom line. The afternoon cycle is similar but the productivity peak isn’t as high. For different people the peaks and valleys will vary, but overall I’d estimate only 3-4 hours a day could be classified as highly productive.

This number isn’t caused by slacking. You can’t force an information worker to be highly productive when the energy isn’t there. Workers can try their hardest, but the work just won’t have that creative edge. The low ratio of highly productive hours to total hours worked is the result of the continuous 8 hour work day.

When workers reach the low energy part of the cycle, they can’t recharge with a non-work activity. The only option is office purgatory. You can’t be highly productive because you’re mentally fatigued, but you can’t recharge because the 8 hour work day requires the appearance of constant productivity. The result is millions of unproductive workers trapped at their desks when they’d rather be doing something else.

Alternative Work Arrangements

The obvious solution to this problem is planning around the mental energy cycle by breaking the work day into multiple segments. The traditional office setting doesn’t accommodate this because there are few available recharge activities. People can’t do household chores, run errands, or engage in recreational activities without leaving the workplace.

Some companies have tried to make the work environment more accommodating by offering meals, fitness centers, and special areas for relaxation. Although these amenities are certainly an improvement, they’re expensive for employers and only partially satisfy employees.

The solution that makes the most sense is a remote work arrangement because it reduces employer costs and allows employees to adjust their work schedule to their mental energy cycle. When a worker becomes mentally fatigued, they can go off the clock and engage in recharge activities that are personally productive like exercise or relaxation. When energy returns, the worker can start working again at a high level, effectively cutting out the low productivity period of the cycle. Employers don’t pay for unproductive time and employees get to work in a more natural pattern that adjusts to their personal lives.

Why isn’t everyone doing this already? Many workers already are, and as commutes get worse and communications improve, the number will continue to increase. Of course there will always be a need for office workers in businesses (like doctor’s offices and law firms) that require daily customer interaction, but for most companies it really isn’t necessary.

There is also the argument that people need to collaborate in person. This is steadily becoming less essential. Most office communications are already done through email or instant messenger. Face to face meetings are certainly necessary, but for the vast majority of lower and mid level employees meetings are the exception and could be conducted via phone/video conference or condensed into one or two days a week.

Another common objection is that employees will abuse remote work arrangements by slacking off. I’m inclined to believe that most adults value their employment enough that this isn’t a problem. In cases where supervision is required, web cams and other technology can used to monitor a worker.

I suspect the real reason remote work arrangements are still the exception is inertia. Companies are used to doing business in the office and are reluctant to change. There is also the presence of office politics. If one person is given a remote arrangement, jealous employees will complain. Doesn’t it make sense to give everyone what they want and save a boat load of cash on office space?

I may only be a kid in his 20’s, but I can tell when something just makes sense. I perceive an increasing number of people are noticing the same phenomena. Forty years from now we’ll be telling our grandchildren about the olden days when everyone’s mommy and daddy went to work in an office.

298 Responses to Why the 9 to 5 Office Worker Will Become a Thing of the Past

  1. ab says:

    “Employers don’t pay for unproductive time and employees get to work in a more natural pattern that adjusts to their personal lives.”

    Doesn’t work that way. If you get paid for your most productive time, you would get paid twice as much. If you would only get paid for 4 hours instead of 8, you would only receive half your salary.

    There is no substitution for meeting face to face. Remote work arrangements -never- work out as well as keeping your staff in the office. Even open landscape offices work out much better than offices with a separate office for each employee. Monitoring employees doesn’t work, unless you are keeping slaves in 24h-factories that is.

    My ideal company would be open lanscape. Every worker would be obliged to go there to work 4 hours between 11am and 3pm to work on their project and share knowledge. Sharing knowledge is what makes it all happen. There would be no salaries; workers would all share the total income and stay motivated to perform at 100% the 4 hours they do work. There would be no slackers, people would be going 100% because it would be worth it.

    An interview could go like this: “We have selected you because we think you are very good at what you do. Good enough to work here. We have a new project we think is worthwhile doing, and wonder if you are interested in joining a team to participate? We have many talented people working with this technology, and the infrastructure is already in place.”

    Currently, people drone away for 8 hours sitting in cubes performing at 10-20% efficiency because they don’t profit from their work they do. Efficient? No. Sufficient? Yes.

    If a worker is at least somewhat bright and interested in his field, he will start his own business. He will start his own business so he can pride himself at utilizing his 100% and also RECEIVE the true worth of his 100% productive time. Working your ass off for someone else basically gives you a silly crap bonus on the paycheck, not something you do for 30 years. Webcam at home or not.

  2. Dave Noble says:

    I’ve been working from home for years now, with dispersed teams spread across the globe. It does seem like people gravitate toward spreading their work through the day. I’ve attributed that to working with people in different time zones, and the flexibility of being able to attend to personal business during the day. But I think you’re right that sometimes people need to recognize when their creative field isn’t fertile, and they may need to let it be fallow for a few hours. That doesn’t mean that offices and workdays being abolished completely, but hopefully people will evaluate their teams’ schedules with an open mind.

  3. Steve Olson says:


    You’re not just a kid in your twenties, you’re a smart man. But I will say you have amazing insight for you age.

    I work in cubicle land managing knowledge workers, and everything you said is true. Even the top performers really only turn in aboout 6 hours of highly productive work, most everyone else is at 3-4. There are many reasons for it, but part of it is certianly the fact the we humans are not made to sit in front of computers for hours on end.

    I tell the people I manage that we don’t pay them for the hours they work… we pay them for the results they achieve, so I am very flexible with their hours.

  4. John Wesley says:


    I really like your vision of the ideal company. My own is very similar, especially the part about total income being shared.


    It’s great to hear the opinion of someone who works from home. I agree the “office worker” will never be abolished completely, but that doesn’t make as interesting a title. :)


    Thanks a lot. It means a great deal coming from someone who work in management. I’m glad to know I’m making sense to someone, although I’m sure many will disagree.

  5. Nice article. As a self employed IT consultant I spend a lot of time in offices, and a lot of time in front of a computer at home. My work day is spread out among the 24 hours depending upon when the problems occur and when I can access systems around other workers. (I am forced to do a lot of work at night, remotely, when everyone is off the network.)

    For the clients I work with, remote or telecommuting is a big issue . The big problem with remote workers in a large corporate environment is the bias against the workers when it comes to responsibility and promotion.

    Remote workers don’t get the water cooler time. They don’t get the chance to be seen “sweating” and they don’t give off the same vibe of “100% commitment” that the cube dwellers give out. Often they will not be given career making projects or assignments because of that perception.

    Also a remote worker gets less of a chance to be seen as a manager by more than just their team. You don’t get as many chances to look “managerial” in front of others.

    The water cooler, the break room, gym, the impromptu cake in the conference room for someone’s birthday . . . those are where promotions are made.

    Finally, it has been shown that remote workers are often the first to go when there needs to be cuts and layoffs. It is easier to axe the person on the other end of the phone or email as opposed to the guy that you see a dozen times a day.

    If you are career minded, remote working may be counter productive. A recommendation for any remote worker would be to be in the office at least a day or two a week to see and be seen.

  6. Jared says:

    I normally work 4 days a week in the office and one day at home, it never ceases to amaze me how much more work I get done at home despite the fact I work less hours. My daily routine at home is to wake up around 8:00am which is the time I would normally be getting into work (2 hours after I would be getting up if I were heading into the office.) Before showering, breakfast and what not I sit down at my computer, answer my emails and begin programming. I will program until my stomach tells me it’s time to eat or I start getting distracted easily (usually occurs around 10:30-11am.) At that point I will go have a shower, have some brunch, come back down around 11:30-12 and start the process again which will last until about 1:30-2pm. Then for the rest of the day I’ll answer emails and calls but I don’t get any real work done unless I’m unusually motivated.

    Yes despite working only about 4-5 hours a day I accomplish more that day than I do most of the week I’m in the office. I thrive in solitary environments when it comes to working, but I realise the advantages of coming to the office, I see it as a more business social than a place to get work done. I go to meetings, I interact with my co-workers and superiors, I make my presence felt in the company. Then I spend 1 of my 5 days, at home, doing the actual work that needs being done.

  7. Chris Quick says:

    I enjoyed your post. I think you’re hitting on a trend in our culture that is beginning to catch on as technology and the changing structure of the modern workplace allow employers to better accommodate workers’ personal and family needs. I personally will be starting an “alternative work arrangement” next fall following the birth of my first child. It’s a change that both my boss and I are looking forward to. I will be able to juggle work and family responsibilities more effectively and my boss won’t have to pay me to sit at my desk and “look busy” when my productivity starts to wane in the afternoon. I highly recommend Dan Pink’s book “Free Agent Nation,” a readable and intelligent analysis of this same topic.

  8. shenpen says:

    I disagree. The problem with working from home or the general concept of getting paid for results instead of time is how to quanity results? In an office environment, if you get too many tasks assigned, which forces you to work overtime, you are entitled overtime pay or extra holidays. With a contract where the pay is not based on time, what keeps your boss from throwing every day 12 hours worth of tasks on you? Thus in the end you will need to quantify workload by some other means, such as lines of code written or something like that which is stupid. Although quantification via time is stupid too, it seems less stupid than other measurements. And if you quantify workload by time, you have to be in the office otherwise how do you prove you are overburdened and entitled to overtime pay or holidays?

  9. shenpen says:

    s/quanity/quantify/, sorry

  10. Beth says:

    I loved your post! As you can see by the various replies you got, some people are still stuck in the “must be in an office mode.” I am in sales, and trust me – a good day for me is about 3-4 hours. But, because I produce results, my boss couldn’t care less.
    When people get out of the “control mode”, workers actually get more done with less complaining about how much time they have to work. Watching people work really doesn’t make them work harder – it makes them think og ways to get out of work more creatively.
    I look forward to the day when this is the norm rather than the few forward thinkers in the world…

  11. Dylan Emrys says:

    I loved this post as well.

    I work from home, or wherever I am. My husband and I reguarly travel to our rental house for maintainence and filling the rental rooms…and we work on our properties.

    What gets me is that my daughter – who is in school – is bound to the five day week, and we often pull her out of school because our jobs need to be done elsewhere. I’ve had this same thought about the 9-5 job, that I have about the structure of schools. As we find we don’t need that daily structure, we will be finding that kids don’t either, and hopefully schools will be set up differently. Some already are. I believe the two are connected: Parents need schools primarily as “day care” now, and kids are beginning to need schools to be flexible.

    Great post!

  12. Sara says:

    Ricardo Semler is the man.

  13. Ianternet says:

    wow – this is great I created a similar article which is on, but this is so true, so many people are just getting tired and are looking for other alternatives

  14. Shannon says:

    Good post! My experience is aligned with this. I work from home 2 days a week and am always highly productive on those days, even though I probably put in fewer hours. I attribute my productivity to two causes: fewer interruptions and being free to follow my natural mental cycles. On average, I work around 6 hours on my telecommute days and 9-10 hours on days I go into the office. In the office, I put in face time, go to meetings and spend time with the people I supervise.

    If everyone only came into the office for meetings, we would be forced to condense meetings into smaller timeframes and they would become more productive as well. Right now, as far as I can tell, meetings are merely excuses for filling up the 8-hour day.

  15. John Wesley says:

    “Meetings are merely excuses for filling up the 8-hour day.”

    I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I wonder if it would be possible to move to a more productivity based employment model, rather than the hourly system.

  16. Shenpen says:

    My questions still stands, nobody even attempted to answer it: if you work from home, how do you PROVE that you already have enough tasks for 40 hrs for that week and therefore you shouldn’t been given more or if you are given more then get overtime pay or something like that?

  17. Shenpen says:

    (Maybe it depends on which profession your work in. My experience as an ERP developer is that there are always more customization requests on the waiting list and it’s essential to make people know if you are already busy enough or you will be buried under more tasks. And the only way to do it is to be there. In fact I found often people don’t even respect if you are busy in the office, because everybody believe their request is more important and urgent than others so usually I have to go to customer sites and turn off the phone to be able to actually finish anything. It isn’t very pleasant as it adds something like 3 hours of driving to 7-8 hour workday but otherwise nothing would ever get done. Is your experience so different from mine?)

  18. John Wesley says:


    I don’t think there is really anyway to prove you have enough tasks to fill 40 hours because people work at much different speeds. Thats the problem with time based wage system, it rewards the best and worst workers equally. Instead, you could make the job require a certain amount tasks be completed, with anything more receiving extra pay.

    In the situation you described, where workers need to constantly be given new tasks, a remote working arrangement might not be effective.

  19. bob smith says:

    Try having kids, then you can see why the 8 hour day is necessary. There have always been jobs that don’t require the 9 to 5 (farming and prostitution… the two oldest jobs). Slow and steady gets the job done.

  20. Tony Wright says:

    GREAT post. I can’t say how many times I’ve underestimated a project because I was assuming 6-8 hours of productive time in a day… It’s just not realistic.

    We’re actually working on a web app that will do a darn good job of measuring productivity across your day… For both individuals and teams. Would love to get your thoughts on it (

  21. GFS3 says:

    Great post. The problem, however, is a political one. We’re moving the direction of more work each day — not less.

    What we need is an employee bill of rights. Like this one:

    You have a cool blog here. Keep up the good work.

  22. PaulJ says:

    I don’t think the 9-5 deal is going to change, until most of the Baby Boomers have retired or died off, they’ve been forced into the 9-5 deal for the last 30-40 years, they can’t seem to let go of it. Most upper management types think that every employee needs to be in his or her desk by 9am every day, because that’s how they were taught. You also have to remember that most of these people have kids, mostly grown up kids now, but still kids. A 9-5 day is ideal for people with kids, they get the kids ready for school in the morning and get home in time to make dinner.

    Personally, on my normal day, I don’t do any productive work until about Noon. Thankfully my current boss is not an old drone, he just turned 40, which for some may seem old, but for a guy in his position, he’s pretty young. Further, he doesn’t really care how I get my job done, just as long as it gets done. This is a very rare situation!

    Prior to starting this job, I interviewed with a start-up run by some “progressive” baby boomers .. well .. they thought they were progressive, anyway. I responded to the job from Craigslist, the ad boasted “Over 50% Telecommute”, after the second interview, they were telling me that, “YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE IN THE OFFICE AT 8AM EVERY DAY.” Well, I guess they just needed to find some other sucker. After that I interviewed at a non-profit company, in DC, they REQUIRED their employees to show up between 8:30am and 9:00am every day, again, a company run by Baby Boomers; that was one of the main reasons I didn’t take the job .. that and they didn’t pay for sh*t.

    At my current job, sometimes I come in at 6am, sometimes I come in at 11am. Some days I work 6 hours, on others I’ve worked 11 or 12. I’d recommend to you, talk about hours when you interview; if they seem very stern on you coming in at 9am, you probably don’t want to work for them, as they will probably be very inflexible about many things. Try to find bosses who are younger guys between 30-40; you don’t want to work for anyone who is too young, as they will have no experience. I worked at another company which hired all of these 20-something-fresh-out-of-college guys, who really thought they were good managers; needless to say, that job didn’t last too long.

    If you want to work flex hours or telecommute, be sure to bring that up in an interview. Do your research, find out if your state offers any telecommuting programs to benefit companies, bring the figures with you to the interview. Another good thing to bring up is comp time, which is if you work a 12 hour day, you get to take that 4 hours off at another point and not have it count against your vacation.

    Good Luck!

  23. David Truss says:

    Try teaching Grade 8 students after only a 40 min. lunch and you will see the value of a shorter, more focussed work day… unfortunately teachers also serve as babysitters so there is not much else for a student to do when they get to go home at noon. Still, there are some schools that allow considerably more freedom in a day that manage to get (many) students through the ‘necessary’ curriculum.

    Your idea that, ‘In cases where supervision is required, web cams and other technology can be used to monitor a worker.’ is fraught with 1984 Big Brother overtones…

    I would worry about quota style expectations for ‘remote’ workers, as this method works well for a limited few people of the world, whereas for many they simply seek to meet the minimum requirement. Conversely, some people can do in 4 hours what others need 8 to do.

    Does the modern-day-analytical-thinking information worker, need to ‘punch in’ 8 hours to be deemed valuable and worthy of their salary?

  24. HardwareGuy says:

    Ohhhhh…so that’s why I read bloglines for 5 hours a day and only code for 3.

  25. Elijahblue says:

    Yea.. I said the exact same stuff back in the 80’s. (Worked at a progressive silicon valley company then). No go. Work at home and not in office is a great dream but companies just won’t do it. Not even sure that’s the issue. Collaboration and agile/extreme programming require close physical proximity. I think it’s going the other way: MORE time at work, not less. At least, if you write code for a living.

  26. subcorpus says:

    enjoyed the article.
    so true … but need more alternate methods to really get employers going …
    employers have a thing for SEEING employees work …
    hehe …

  27. Dee says:

    Nice post, John.

    I work for a multibillion software biggie. I am comfortable with my environment but I am not utilising my abilities to the fullest, I know. My friend who works in the same company keeps on complaining about his congested glass cubicles. He stays with me and I find that he is always reluctant to go to work every morning. We both are into some other part-time business too, which we do after our office hours. it needs more exertion from our side but we feel glad to do that. going to our business office is fun, we enjoy what we do there.

    Like you said, sitting in our cubicle staring at the screen continuously for 8-11 hours is very tiring. Everyone will feel really exhausted. I know certain IT firms in India which allow its employees to work from home. Its relaxing and energizing. You dont need to monitor them using webcams and all. Company will be allowing the guys to sit at home and work only if they find them to be challenged and committed . Also, if they are delivering the stuff within time, who cares what they do at home?

    And face-to-face meetings are unavoidable. Still many manage with VC[video conferencing] etc.

  28. SpaceDog says:

    Here’s an interesting article on Best Buy’s corporate work environment.
    It supports a lot of what you’re saying here.

  29. ab says:

    Same here, tried it but its only suitable for special tasks. Been working as a consultant designing and programming in different offices for ten years now.

    Putting people very close together has been the most efficient way to get projects finished on time, ie open landscape office (no cubicles or separate offices). Close communication is the key for everything, and it also overcomes procrastination and digg.

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  31. sarah says:

    Thanks for this article. I’m in a 9-5 job for the first time and I’ve been beating myself up about not getting enough done. I’ve aways been very productive on projects when I was in charge of my own working hours, so this a new experience for me and not one I’m eager to repeat in the future.
    It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this.

  32. Andrew says:

    A well articulated article. I think you’ll find that the people who’ve agreed with this are the people who have worked from home and found the amazing benefits it brings and those who disagree are having trouble opening their mind to the fact that the common way is not necessarily the best way.

    I’ve been working from home most days for the past 3 years. I find that I dread going to the office because it’s so much harder to get work done there, it’s only really good for catching up on the social side of things.

    Students have always complained about getting up early and, at long last, a scientific study has proven that their bodies aren’t suited to it. It won’t be long before a study proves that sitting at a desk for 8 hours, doing the same thing, is not the best way to keep you happy or get your best performance.

  33. Alrayyes says:

    Nice posting (although painfully obvious for anyone who’s ever worked in an office). I agree with you 100% as I too am a 20 something year old, however there is one flaw to your logic:

    To get in a full 8 hours of work every day, while only getting paid for “productive” hours would mean 12+ hour workdays. This means that personal/office time is serverely intertwined.

    While this isn’t a problem when you’re young, I can see it being a problem when you have a wife & kids who don’t live the same lifestyle you do. Kids go to school from 9-3 and the wife will start bitching that you don’t have time for her at night.

    This I think is one of the reasons that we’re still following this ridiculous 9-5 schedule. It’s unhandy if you want to be productive, however if you want to spend time with your family it’s more efficient to be mediocre.

    It sucks, but I don’t see a solution to this. I for one love working at home and living by my own schedule. Work hard, play hard. Unfortunately not everyone sees it this way.

  34. John, I started thinking about the title and realized: The 9 to 5 worker is already a thing of the past. It’s form is still in place, but the reality is quite different.

    Huge numbers of workers of all types are connected through communication devices ’round the clock. The difficulty with this lies in your premise that we’re only productive a few hours at a time (and yes, I agree). So what happens is: People do their mandatory 8 hours and then continue to work off-and-on throughout the evening and very early morning. And as Alrayyes points out, it impacts life at home.

    What strikes me is this: I think most everyone knows that circadian rhythms and productivity cycles are true. Yet rather than manage to results, it seems easier to continue that which we know is not productive (9-5) vs. changing to a different model where possible.

    I’m wondering what it will take–and how long–to legitimize new ways of working. At this point I sure don’t have a solution for large companies who need standardization for issues of control and tracking.

    I wonder what it will take to ultimately make this happen.

    Good post, John

  35. I disagree at the point of having a camera watching me at work, even if I’m at my home office. That isn’t really a good solution.

    I use to think that most people haven’t the discipline to organize theirselves to work at home efficiently, and companies will really loose performance in the next years, until we get prepared to handle this kind of work.

    Technology companies such as Microsoft, Apple and IBM could develop creative ambient, giving workers freedom to choose and responsability to respect.

    In the last 200 or 300 years, we were educated to believe that personal life should adjust to work. Now you tell that work should adjust to personal life. Not one neither another, balance both is a responsible response. But responsability ins’t a true value to the youth (look, I’m 27 y.o.). Parents must change the education their children get at home, so their children will change their work ambient next.

    Sorry for my awful english, bot I’m really interested in that important discussion.

  36. Tawnya says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I quite often work from home and to be honest I feel like I work more efficiently. My team does all of our communication in Campfire, via emails, occasionally Skype, and on an individual basis IM. Sometimes its overkill but we’ve got developers on our team in Taiwan, and Canada so it doesn’t matter if we’re in the office or not our commutation is documented and doesn’t always have to be real-time. When I’m home I can work through the morning, take the dog for a walk come back do more work take a break.. then work into the evening. I usually prefer working in the late hours anyway. It also cuts my hour commute (one way) so I can get started working earlier or spend that extra hour working. Anyway you get my point. (Also I like not having to change out of my pajamas all day on occasion.)

  37. Medical Secretary says:

    Not very realistic outside of your field. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to tell a patient: “The office is closed until after lunch because the staff anticipates a mental peak around noon, so your chronic pain will just have to wait.”
    Some things matter more than workers’ feelings. Sad but true: the workplace just ain’t for pussies.

  38. Steven says:

    I just finished up reading a book explaining this concept: “The 4-hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferris. Your information appears to be motivated by the exact same lines as his text, and I suspect that you may have gleaned information off the book as well. But if you haven’t, it’s a magnificent read.

  39. Shenpen says:


    “Instead, you could make the job require a certain amount tasks be completed”

    The problem is, it’s inherently impossible to correctly estimate the time a given task requires if we are talking about knowledge work, because the work itself consists of finding solutions to problems we don’t fully understand before we solved them. Fred Brooks proved it for programming but it also applies to any kind of programming work. Quantification of knowledge work never really works – f.e. if you have a call center and tell people they have to take a fixed number of calls, they will try to find a way to end those calls earlier. If you tell them to solve a given number of calls, they will tend to give faux “works as designed, even if the design is broken” “solutions”. The only way to get that call center to work correctly to pay them by time, thus to remove the pressure and basically let them take as much time as they need to actually solve the calls. But if people are paid by time they need to be able to prove how much time they worked.

    People who are more effective and thus use their times more efficiently are usually simply be able to negotiate higher per-time salaries.

  40. Shenpen says:

    Sorry, it’s too late here and I’m sleepy – instead of “it also applies to any kind of programming work” I mean “it also applies to any kind of KNOWLEDGE work”

  41. Nathan says:

    I think Shenpen’s concern deserves a lot of attention – we’d all love the flexibility to work according to our own schedules, but we also NEED time off. When the work day ends at 5 (or 6 or 7, as that seems to be creeping farther back), at least you know the rest of the day is yours. But if you work just on assignments? What limits can be imposed on how much work you’re assigned? When do you get to stop being an “employee” and start being your own person? And if people are judged by productivity and can work as much as they want from home, the people who do the best are going to be the people who work more and more and more. The modern employment structure is bad enough for families and personal development and growth now. Do we need to make it worse? Flexibility is great, but on the worker’s terms, not just the employer’s.

  42. Marie says:

    I agree. But there are other workers with only one kind of task for the rest of the day. I think the only solution to that kind of boring work is to have short breaks to refresh the mind.

  43. I agree with a lot of what was written here. I suffered an illness a few years ago and find it difficult to concentrate for a full day now – so little breaks are a fantastic way of recharging.

    I now work from home and break the day up with household chores etc. It means I spend a longer time “working”, but as I have done the evening stuff during the day, it really doesn’t matter – and I am considerably more productive.

  44. AEN says:

    I think we think alike. I completely agree and that is why I freelance. I cannot stand 8 hours in an office with over-caffeinated zombies all around me. I’m just wouldn’t be creative and my mind wouldn’t be in the best state.

    I agree every individual has their unique “mental energy cycle”. Some people like me perform the best in the silence and peace of the night and some people are optimal in daylight. Even so it fluctuates. Somehow sometimes I would like the day more. Very often after an intensive project, I would need at least a full day or 2 to recharge, even if it’s a weekday. I cannot do that if I had a 9-5 office job.

    Great article! I really enjoyed it.

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  48. Al says:

    This is a great ideal. However, business is unlikely to change to reflect human need and output. The problem is that, for many businesses, they work the hours they work because the businesses they deal with keep the same hours. I can’t see the UK publishing house I work for, for example, changing anything anytime soon! But it’s an insightful read nonetheless, and the only criticism i have is that I don’t think productivity really rises just after lunch. It’s a time when our bodies are pouring chemical energy into the digestion process, and we tend to be sleepier, perking up around 4pm when energy levels rise again. Bring on the siesta, I say :)

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  50. Jamie O says:

    I’m slowly orchestrating vocational change to bring about the ‘ideal situation’ I want. Something that has between 5 – 20 people working on shared contracts, a cheap but comfortable common office space where our development servers would live, we could entertain clients for face time, and have a keg and BBQ in the back for the social elements of work that are a must to making us feel more than just meat for the grinder. Everyone would have a vested interest in the long-term success of the company – as it would really just be an umbrella name under which multiple private contractors are offering their shared services. The ideal location for this would be a farm property with woods in the back. Forget ‘boadroom’ meetings, how about we meet out by the stream on the rocks and brainstorm ideas for that next advertising campaign we’re pitching?

  51. Dan says:

    ab said: “Remote work arrangements -never- work out as well as keeping your staff in the office.”

    Please tell that to my wife who has worked from her home office for over three years. She a senior-level IT recruiter for Cisco Systems.

  52. prohappy says:

    Yeah! I am so for it. It is senseless sitting at a desk for 8 hours where you could be productive for 4 hours at the desk and change the environment to be productive at something else (maybe a part time business).

    You have my vote for 9 to 5 office worker is rapidly going to be something of the past. Thanks to communication technology.

  53. Edwin says:

    Excellent article. I agree completely with you, 4 hours should be the way to go. That’s why you see so many people falling a sleep at work, they just can”t wok efficiently after 5 or 6 hours at work.

  54. ab says:


    Knowledge sharing doesn’t happen if employees are working from home, thats why. I’m happy your wife has found a way to work from home that is fine with her, but she wouldn’t be on my projects.

  55. Matt says:

    I disagree with the post, but it’s only because of the way our programming team works. It’s a small team, and we’re all responsible for larger things like DBA and architecture. Collaboration is key, and some of our best ideas come from two people standing in front of a white board with someone else overhearing and chiming in.

    Our office has a work from home policy for those months that you’re pulling support, but having done those, I’ve never felt more disconnected from my team.

    In order for the work-at-home-on-your-own-cycle process to work, there needs to be a lot of discipline and some separation. Try explaining to your 2 and a half year old who is potty training why they shouldn’t pee on your office floor while getting your assignment done.

    Try explaining to your wife why you’re not listening to her because you have to answer this email on your blackberry. Then explain to her that no, you really do prioritize her over your work.

    You have to ask yourself one thing when you work from home: Do you have an office in your house, or do you have a bed at your office? If you have a bed at your office, do not work from home. You will never stop working.

  56. Tawnya says:

    ab said: “Knowledge sharing doesn’t happen if employees are working from home”

    Actually thats not necessarily true. I work for a software development company. Like I said before we have developers all over the world and we use something called campfire to do our mash ups as well as most of our communication its all documented so it essientially records our minutes for us so we can go back and search through archives should we need to.

    I do agree that there are some types of businesses that this would never work for such as Doctors offices’, retail stores etc, the author of this post did mention that as well.

    P.S. I didn’t mention it before but great post!


  57. zach says:

    Chinese officer workers don’t mind being slaves. Actually they enjoy it.
    But, the smart ones, working at a multi-national corp., that become office managers have the opportunity to embezzle millions of dollars and escape to Canada.
    More power to them.

  58. Ricky says:

    I see it as, the more hours you work the more cash in your hand. The people themselves choose if they become the 9-5 worker.w

  59. jerome says:

    Even production or “factory workers” as you describe them go through peaks and valleys of high productivity.Most successful manufacturing environments moved to the 4day split shift work week years ago,some even use a 3day multi shift format.Don’t belittle the manufacturing sector,without them you wouldn’t have a keyboard and mouse to goof off with at work.Not to mention the moving vans all the mommies are careening around in.Have fun.

  60. John Wesley says:


    I never intended to belittle the manufacturing sector or other non-white collar works. I was only trying to make the point that information work is different, though I’m sure you’re right about other types of workers having productivity cycles too.

  61. jerome says:

    Not to worry,I was speaking in a collective sense.What I find interesting are the psychological benefits of not being involved in a traditional 9-5 work scene.People,that I have observed, have become more productive and seem to possess a higher sense of self esteem when they have more free time to pursue personal activities.The workplace and the individual benefits from this. Maybe our society as a whole could become a little saner if the masses didn’t consider themselves “wage slaves”. Just my input,I liked your article very much.

  62. Scott says:

    There isn’t any one, best workstyle for all people because it’s not an either-or issue. And there is no way to quantify knowledge work regardless of whether the knowledge worker is at home or at work. Some will disagree and state that knowledge work can be measured, but it is clear from Deming’s red bead exercise that individual performance is at the mercy of the system within which the individuals work, and not something directly within the individual’s ability to control. How do you quantify Gerstner’s turnaround of IBM? You can talk about it, you can state many of the things he said and did, but which of those things made the difference? And exactly how much difference did each make? No, there is no way to quantify these things, though we often assume that we can, we create “metrics” and then we think we know something when we’re really deluding ourselves. Processes can be quantified and measured, but people’s individual performance cannot. If you want something more recent than Deming, I refer you to Robert Austin’s “Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations.”

    Many people, perhaps most, need to be at specific places at specific times. Doctors, nurses, police, many service workers who deal directly with customers; the job requires that they be there. But there are many who do not need to be at any specific place at specific times, and I think it would be best for other work arrangements to be made in those cases.

    The Federal Government is making the telecommuting option mandatory for many agencies including mine. Mandatory means that it must be offered to anyone who is in a job that does not require them to be at work to do their jobs all the time. For some it might mean working at home or elsewhere 3 out of 5 days. The US Patent Office is moving most of their patent researchers out of the office and into their homes, providing them with secure connectivity and equipment. There has been a lot of resistance to these moves, mostly from management who were afraid that they would not be able to monitor employee’s work. Most managers in my building stay in their offices and go to meetings or spend their time with other managers, so they aren’t really monitoring employees who are at work anyway. The resistance is disappearing both due to legislation and also to the results — the majority of managers who manage employees who have switched to some kind of telework situation have rated the switch a success and have seen an increase in productivity.

    Personally I have done my best, most focused work when I have gone in around 10am and left before 2pm. It’s not something I expected, and I don’t know why it should be this way, but it is. So I’m on board with the idea that people can only really do focused mental work for about 4 hours at a time, and often less.

    As for face-to-face meetings and knowledge sharing, I don’t think it matters either way. Face-to-face is important for creating a bond with others and having a sense of comraderie, but it’s not necessary for everyone.

  63. Max W says:

    the thing is, most of the work that is done today produces TOTALLY UNNECESSARY GOODS. In the process, the rich get richer, the poor poorer, the environment gets f-ed up, and people work tons of hours instead of spending time with friends, family, and in the community.
    If everyone worked 1 or 2 hours a day, we could feed, clothe, house, and provide basic neccesities to the entire population of the world. Imagine having to work only 1 hour, and doing whatever you want in the rest of the time! The world would be so much better! The only reason that working hours have stayed the same (they have actually risen) as productivity has increased is to make the rich richer.

    Farmers in the middle ages worked an average of 3 hours per day in the fields.
    Hunter/gather societies worked an average of 2 hours per day
    we work an average of 8-9 hours per day in the US, much higher in Japan and China.

    Why has productivity gone up so much and yet we still work all the time? Wasn’t the promise of technology to liberate us and give us free time?

    I say f*ck this system of wage labor. It needs some serious revision.

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  68. phillipsguy says:

    When I read the responses about balancing other life activities, I thought efficiency from the employee’s point of view is to maximize return on their time. Therefore, if you can work less and collect more benefits, then you are winning the game!

    As to face-to-face compared to telecommuting, people interrupt each other all the time. Any work requiring deep concentration is better done in the least distracting environment. My own pattern is to start on a project and obsess on it for hours or days. Then I feel drained and I coast for a while until something else seems important to me.

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  71. Fran says:

    I agree. It’s a good idea to vary the things we do to avoid getting bored. We know that continuous work for 8 hrs. is not all work but consist of other things.

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  74. Alan says:

    I agree. We certainly don’t have to force ourselves to do the same task if we have other tasks that awaits us. But in case we don’t have any other task, I think a short break is necessary.

  75. Shenpen says:

    OK let’s try to find a broader viewpoint that contains both sides of the discussion. I agree to that the ideal way of working is to become self-employed or freelancer. In these cases whenever somebody gives a task to you, you usually give a quote on how much hours it will take and charge for the time. In this case there is no danger of extra work without extra pay. In this case nobody cares how much you actually work, because you charge your quoted time, usually, even if the actual time is somewhat different.

    However in an employment contract with a fixed pay it just cannot work, you have to be able to prove how busy your are, or else you will be buried under work.

    So the real deal is that I agree that the 9-5 type of work was actually developed for the clerks, factory workers, or bean counters of the old times where being there practialy equals doing the job and therefore does not really fit a knowledge-based economy. But the point is, the concept of employment itself is what does not fit a knowledge-based economy. In the long run, knowledge workers should be self-employed. But as long as you are employed for a fixed pay, working for home will automatically mean working too much for no extra pay.

  76. edoj says:

    I go to the office for the free coffee !
    A few thoughts:
    I think it all boils down to trust or the lack thereof. If the boss doesn’t trust EVERYONE, is it fair to let just me work from home? When you can’t trust everyone, rules must be made and enforced. Otherwise, we’d all be driving 100 MPH down the highway.

    Sure, a webcam sounds big brother-ish, but is it any different than them peeking into my office whenever they walk by? Either way, they’ve seen where I’m at with their own eyes. I think webcams or videoconferencing would help employers warm up to the idea of employees working from home because they can see what the worker is doing and how they are feeling. However, some homeworkers might want to know when they are being watched… but would a trustworthy employee have anything to hide anyways (aside from working in their underwear)? At the office, I don’t decide who or how often I’m checked upon by people walking by and if I close my door for too long, they might wonder what I’m doing… Closed door = shut off the webcam.

    Maybe employers understand the lack of productivity in the office, but see it as a cost of doing business. They simply don’t have a better way to monitor people and have them instantly available. So the other problem is communication. Cellphones and email are great, but isn’t still faster, cheaper, and easier to yell out “James! I need those TPS reports now!”?

  77. Tawnya says:

    edoj says “If the boss doesn’t trust EVERYONE, is it fair to let just me work from home? When you can’t trust everyone, rules must be made and enforced. Otherwise, we’d all be driving 100 MPH down the highway.”

    A couple of things if the employer can’t trust an employee why bother to keep them employed? If you can’t trust your significant other do you stay together? I mean the unwise thing to do is stay the smart thing is to go.
    The employer is paying the employee and for what? Micromanaging should be left in elementary school not in the workplace.

    The Employer hand picked the employee, most cities don’t get to choose who is driving on the highways, I for one agree with the speeding laws because it sets a precedence and because we don’t really have a way to know who is behind the wheel licensed or not. .

    That person could be say a minor without a license, a fugitive, someone who has had a bit to much to drink or whatever. The roads need to be micromanaged by cops because they don’t get to hand pick who in reality can get behind the wheel.

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  80. I am growing my company as completely virtual
    and i believe the majority of companies will be completely virtual in the future.
    Is just a question of tools for remote working

  81. John Athayde says:

    In regards to remote work, It depends on the employee. I have many designers who are three times as productive when working from home. And I have some who say that it took them all day to draw something in illustrator that takes no more than 2 hours (e.g. tracing a product for flash). It really depends on the individual. You’ll also find out who your star employees are and who you should look at removing to increase quality.

    The company I work for already allows me to work remotely due to my touring schedule with my band, and with an EV-DO card from Verizon, I’m basically plugged in 24-7 with my MacBook. We use web apps such as basecamp for project management and have our file server setup behind a VPN. The only difference of being on site is speed to the server on large file transfers.

    The tools and the pipeline are critical. Once you have these in place, people can work from anywhere.

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  87. John Jackson says:

    Working 9 to 5 takes all your freedom away.

  88. Steve says:

    9 to 5 IS A THING OF THE PAST.

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  92. daveo says:

    You are so right. Basically I work 24 hours a day – if something needs to be done at 10 p.m., I am on it. If my company ever told me I had to sit there and warm a chair between 9- 5 – well they can kiss my ass. Shenpen, your comments are just depressing. I hope I never have to work around anyone like you. Living in Silicon Valley and seeing the horrific traffic caused by people who have to be at the office all at the same time…. God, how stupid is that?

  93. Leion says:

    I work at least 11 hours a day. I am drained. How I wish my company can adapt your way of work but if everyone works from home, how can we come together and discuss things?

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  97. Jeff says:

    I work at home, but I’m not very productive. I spend a lot of time contemplating things and doing research. Sometimes I take a nap. Sometimes, actually usually a couple of times a day, I go to the cafe.

    But when I am working, my productivity can be anywhere over the spectrum. From a painful trickle, to a modest trot, to a floodgate of unbridled creative machismo.

    Mostly I work at home because I hate having a boss. I love getting to just do whatever I want. It’s worth the money. I also like it because it is comfortable and I can take a full hour for lunch (which I usually spend watching Charlie Rose – what a great show).

    Internet porn is the devil though.

  98. Anand says:

    Telecommuting seems more feasible for folks who are programmers or those who manage them.
    As an IT infrastructure services professional,i feel someone should be on-site in case any network device goes down to avoid absolute business downtime and to support users who are working on-site.

    Just my 2 cents.


  99. Jay Style says:

    11-3, ideal work hours with a minimum of a half an hour lunch in between!

  100. Zen Davis says:

    i hate work, i wish i were rich!

  101. Henry says:

    Is exercise ‘productive’? If your mind gets tired, exercise and especially relaxation can’t possibly help. With these I’ll bet you are still at the office…in your mind. Truly escape with a real activity, say for example, work. Build something, tear something down, pick up the leaves for that old neighbor. Do something that you can see the physical results. Use your muscles in a way that could make them sore. It makes sense to do somthing physical (something hard and I don’t mean sports) that does not allow the intellectual part of your mind to interfer. If you slam the 8 hour work day…then you are slamming the very people that make it possible for you to slam your door or slam the toilet seat up or down. Use your brain…what are your solution for these people? Not conserned about their day?

  102. Henry says:

    Is exercise ‘productive’? If your mind gets tired, exercise and especially relaxation can’t possibly help. With these I’ll bet you are still at the office…in your mind. Truly escape with a real activity, say for example, work. Build something, tear something down, pick up the leaves for that old neighbor. Do something that you can see the physical results. Use your muscles in a way that could make them sore. It makes sense to do something physical (something hard and I don’t mean sports) that does not allow the intellectual part of your mind to interfere. If you slam the 8 hour work day…then you are slamming the very people that make it possible for you to slam your door or slam the toilet seat up or down. Use your brain…what are your solution for these people? Not concerned about their day?

  103. Idetrorce says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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  106. Arif says:

    hello people it is me Arif

    just wanna no how to become and office worker

    how long doese it take?

    how much u earn each day/wekk?

  107. Duff says:

    Totally right on here, John.

    The only thing I’d add is that sometimes working at the office can keep me on track if I’m feeling distracted. But just as often, the office is a chaotic zone full of distraction. I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely fairly often.


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  110. JJ says:

    You may be a kid in your twenties, but always remember- us kids in our twenties, we are the now, and we are the future. I agree with you 100%. In the near future, very few jobs will require commute, with the exception of retail and a very few others. Like you, I also believe that the only reason people still work in offices is because it’s what the big companies (and the people as well) are used to. It is definitely far more practical to work at home.

  111. JCorrales says:

    I couldn’t agree more

  112. RaAr says:

    Working according to your mental situation true but every day for us given a set of targets work to finish, that have to complite even we want to work or not, so we have to arrange our mental situation such that task provided us towards complition of it. One good way which I use to do that is relax in between not more just for 5-10min, just go for cofee or have a chat with some one or rome around the office which ditach you from work for short period and bust your energy to work more efficienty or creat some idea to finish work in short period of time.

  113. frank says:

    how long doese it take?
    A while

  114. Laura says:

    I agree completely, it’s a counterproductive way to work and only suits a few people. SO I set up a website to collect info about other types of work. I’ve added a link to this blog – hope that’s ok!

  115. Martin says:

    It’s an excellent post. But I would say that the 9-5 is in part due to politics. I could go on an on about our despicable dependence on oil but I won’t. Has anyone considered how much tax we pay whilst sitting in the rush hour? Also Looking throughout history, working times have gradually reduced regardless of productivity, the accumulation of wealth will dictate that we all don’t NEED to work 8 hours a day. The result will be better childcare, education, health. Thus the importance and necessity of central governments to structure and maintain society will dwindle. The west needs to restructure, and working times no matter how small will play a part. It’s all about control and governments are very affraid to lose that control

  116. Sam says:

    I am amazed that companies are still resisting teleworking as an option for their employees. I am less productive in an office than I am at my home. I am free to concentrate on my work(web programming), and take breaks whenever I want. My personal life has taken a new dimension, as I’m able to go to the doctor when I need to, without worrying about asking for time off. I work my best late in the evening, and I work with people in different time zones, so I am more accessible to them, than if I had to drive in the office, and sit in traffic trying to get home. The effectiveness of teleworking should be measured by productivity, not by monitoring if a person is at a desk for 8 hours. If the employee isn’t productive, then get rid of him, or make him stop teleworking.

  117. owl6595 says:

    Hi all–
    Great article and terrific responses and feedback. I work from home quite often, and I sometimes feel guilty simply because I am comfortable. If I wash a dish or two on my break I feel I am goofing off. Yet in the office, people are walking down the long hall to the bathroom, chatting to each other across the cubes, and talking on phones and emailing friends throughout the day. I agree wholeheartedly that the work is what should be measured–not the time.

  118. jevine says:

    you all did not answer my question

  119. farouk says:

    some people have even productivity that is below the 4 hours, i think its because of procrastination

  120. I am so for it. It is senseless sitting at a desk for 8 hours where you could be productive for 4 hours at the desk and change the environment to be productive at something else (maybe a part time business).

    You have my vote for 9 to 5 office worker is rapidly going to be something of the past. Thanks to communication technology.

  121. Gary says:

    Hey Jared:
    I am not sure how old you are but By Je$!$ thanks for the insight.For some reason you sound 34’ish Recently due to a company Rig theft I was left out of work for well 2 1/2 months to date, and now only back to work. Office hours had to be cut to 1/2 and my office manager was moved to his basement for his convenience , connected to the office by remote access. He loves it already, and I noticed,,, well truthfully, , , He does more work in one half day at home than I think I have ever seen him get done in 2 busy days at the office. And he seems a hell of a lot happier , especially on those Cold Northern Mornings here in the winter.

  122. echo says:

    I’ve been coding professionally for several years now and done the 7 to 4 thing and the work from home thing. And every time I work better from home. I’ve had teams all in one room and teams spread out around the world. We work better from home. Every time.

    Retire now boomer, clock punchers. We’ll be better off without you.

  123. Gen X says:

    I’ve been in the IT industry for 20 years. I’ve owned my own businesses and I’ve worked from home a lot. I do like it and I can certainly be very productive accomplishing a well-defined task when working from home. However, having been a manager of IT projects and other knowledge workers many times over the years and having experienced many work from home scenarios I am against office-less, work-whenever-you-want jobs.

    There seems to be an assumption made in this blog topic that employers only want some amount of productivity and that if this amount can be reached by individuals working from home on a work as you like basis then that should be good enough. Well, it’s not. We’re looking for more. If that’s all that mattered then U.S. IT workers simply would not exist. We’d simply use lower paid foreign contractors.

    We know that we’re not getting 40 productive hours per week out of every individual. It’s unfortunate that we must operate a facility and hire managers of managers of managers of workers that each work 40 or so hours per week in order to run the company, but we’re not doing it because we’re control freaks. We’re doing it because it’s what works in the long run.

    Here are some of the other things we’re looking for besides productivity from workers that are well enough above the minimum wage pay scale.

    1) Communicating a vision and cultivating a corporate culture. Face-to-face communication is by far the most effective way to communicate, as has been mentioned several times on this blog topic. Search for communication studies and stats on your own and you’ll find stats such as this: 7% verbal (words – blogging, email, letters, etc.), 38% vocal (speaking – volume, pitch, rhythm, etc.), and 55% body movements (mostly facial expressions). I’m not just talking about communication in meetings here. I’m talking about from the top down every employee acting under the vision and culture of the company so as to nurture that vision and culture in everyone.

    2) Loyalty (or at least longer employment and lower turnover). Labor costs are usually the most significant cost category for a company. Employee ramp up and transition times are periods when we often pay more for the individual than then individual contributes. Employee turnover must be minimized in order to contain overall labor costs. One of the ways that we do this is to foster community which like communication is best done face-to-face. Loyalty is certainly tougher to come by in the present world but I think it would be hard to deny that an employee will have a greater tendency to do what’s best for the company and to stick around longer if he/she has friends at the company and feels a sense of community and belonging.

    3) Did we make a good hiring decision in the first place? Distinguishing a good hire from a bad one in the job interview process alone is tough. Having 30 to 90 days to closely work with new hires is what it takes to ensure that a good hiring decision has been made.

    4) Cross training. Also seen in this blog topic, learning and teaching occur most effectively face-to-face over a long work week of overlapping work time. A productive worker who works from home, only communicates as needed, and yet gives us the 20 hours or so of truly productive time we are looking for each week is OK but it does nothing for bringing other less productive workers up to speed. If a superstar leaves the company without documenting his contributions or bringing others up to speed then the hit to operations can be catastrophic.

    5) Working from home tends to decrease team communication and therefore increases the risk that miscommunication, bad assumptions, bad ideas, etc. will cause work hours to be spent on tasks that do not truly accomplish company goals.

    6) As a manager, you simply must observe your staff working from time to time in order to see who’s spending more of their time at the office working towards company goals including teaching others, observe what’s being done and facilitate course corrections as needed, listen to chats about work topics to perhaps help, teach, or nix something that should not be worked, identify prospects for promotions, etc.

    Having written against office-less, work-whenever-you-want environments, I should say that I am however for the occasional work from home day for well defined tasks done by employees that have proven that they can deliver. I like the idea of everyone expecting to be in the office on a set schedule, and having the obligation to be available to do so, while selectively granting days to work from home when it makes sense.

    If you think of yourself as an individual worker who trades time for money then perhaps much of my argument in this post does not make sense to you. You are probably already formulating your counter arguments. But if you think like a business owner or a manager with the long term viability of the company as a fundamental goal then you might just open up to the idea that it is best to have employees that work in close proximity.

  124. Owl6595 says:

    Dear Gen X,
    I respectfully disagree with a few of your points. People have different ways and preferences of communicating more efficiently.
    To say that face-to-face is a more effective way to communicate may be true to a degree, but it really depends on the circumstances and what you are trying to communicate.
    I agree that facial expressions, body language, and so on are important in the communication process, primarily in personal relationships. In romantic relationships, obviously, you will bond better face-to-face, probably because your goal is reproduction. (to be blunt)
    However, in a work environment, why is face-to-face so imperative? Wouldn’t it depend on what you are trying to achieve?
    I choose to deal with companies over the phone in my personal life. My cell phone company, for example. I get much better service over the phone, it’s quicker and more convenient, and my goal is usually achieved almost immediately over the phone. If I were to go to the cell phone company store, I would probably be dealing with a young sales person who is not as focused on existing customers as they are on potential customers.
    When I worked in my office for over 11 years, I was physically available to my co-workers. However, we all still communicated via phone and email, we all sat alone in cubicles most of the day, and a lot of the face-to-face interaction was spent making small talk.
    For the type of job that I do (mainly reconciling accts and independent testing), I found being at the office to be rather distracting and counter-productive at times.
    I am a very sensitive, alert, outgoing person. I get easily distracted by phones ringing, people talking to me or near me(either personal or business), popcorn burning in the microwave, and even the temperature in the office can be very distacting to me. I work much better at home where I can control the temperature, the smells, and the sounds around me.
    As far as management keeping on eye on the employees’ productivity…they usually didn’t. They sat at their desks a lot, with their heads buried in paperwork, and if they glanced up at their employees, they would see people working–or appearing to be working. How can you tell if someone is daydreaming, shuffling papers, talking on a personal call, etc in a large office of cubicles?
    My manager now is in another state, anyway. So even when I go into the office (once a week), I never see her. If she would like to check up on me, she can see on my “messenger” whether I am active or inactive and for how long.
    When it comes to loyality and cross training, here are my feelings: I am loyal because I love my job and I love working from home for my family’s sake. I have always been loyal, but now moreso than ever.
    As far as cross training, my co-workers and I have gotten very good at efficiently training each other by teleconferences and sharing our desktops using a program. It works really well.
    So, overall, I personally see more advantages working from home. Better for the environment, too.

  125. Gen X says:

    Thanks for publishing my views and giving them consideration. It’s great that you have a work from home job where you feel like you’re part of the team, you are loyal to the company, and you are able to contribute to the other goals I mentioned. In contrast to the office experience you described there is no contest.

    Ever see the WALL-E Disney movie? It’s a warning about destroying the environment, on which we can both probably agree is an important concern, but it’s also a warning not to getting too tied to technology and too far removed from human interaction. There is one scene in particular where two people are video conferencing each other without realizing that they are actually sitting next to each other.

    Anyway, thanks for posting my view. I enjoyed reading this topic and will stay tuned to updates from others.

  126. Owl6595 says:

    Dear GenX,

    Yes, I have seen Wall-E and I agree with what you said about not getting too tied to technology and far removed from human interaction.

    I think like all things in life it’s about BALANCE. For example, if you live alone (for whatever reason) and don’t have a lot of face-to-face interaction in your personal life (Sandra Bullock in “The Net”) then working from home may not be a good idea.

    But for someone like myself who has a pretty big family and social circle, I feel that working from home is a nice break from too much human interaction. I only wish I could have had this opportunity sooner, when my 2 kids were younger. I used to get so drained by my co-workers, and then I’d come home and want to be alone but my family needed me right away. I didn’t have much energy left for the people who meant the most to me. I gave them my attention but I was often irritable. I got quite burnt out at times.

    I also think technology can connect a lot of very lonely people. I’m sure there are home-bound people who love being able to connect via email and websites.

    There are times when I see people emailing and texting and talking on My Space and think they should just get together Face to Face. But that isn’t always feasible. Sometimes it’s MORE intimate to communicate through technology. People are sometimes more likely to share thoughts and feelings.

    Just more of my late-night opinions.

  127. Gen X says:

    All good points. Balance indeed is key. I can also understand how technology might give an introverted person a way to socialize that is more comfortable than direct contact, and tech-communication is certainly better than none.

    It seems the more we tech-communicate the more we seem to agree. :)

    My reason for posting here is to counter the claim “Why the 9 to 5 Office Worker Will Become a Thing of the Past”. I’m going to come off like a complete geezer by writing this — I am 42 — but “in my youth” :) I can recall many occasions where I brashly predicted a future of much change. Older people just didn’t understand the ways of now and the future. In hindsight I don’t think that any of my predictions were correct. (One of them was that the US would adopt the metric system. Ha! Americans align with the rest of the world!?! No way!! Another was the death of the COBOL programming language. Now I know that COBOL’s going to outlive me unless I go along with the planet in one big uh-oh event!)

    I can align with the idea that current and future technology and management styles will allow for *more* telecommuting and flex hours, but the death of set hours and an office location for office workers… nope. I predict it will still be the norm 20 years from now for the reasons I originally stated.

    I don’t mean to keep kicking this topic around ad infinitum. I’ve enjoyed the conversation. Who knows… perhaps you’re closer to my thoughts on the “death of” point, too, but you’re smart enough to know that a blog topic with an extreme position out of the norm will invite more participation than one with a popular point of view. 😉

  128. Owl6595 says:

    Hi Again GenX–
    This has been fun. I love this topic. And I’m right there with you in age so don’t worry. :-)
    I guess I look at this subject matter as more about having options. I wasn’t really taking the original author’s “death of 9 to 5” literally.
    I’m not really one for making predictions because in my life some really weird things have happened that I could never have predicted (good and bad) so I have learned that the future is not for us to know–not yet.
    There’s no way back in the 70’s and 80’s that I would have guessed that we’d ever have the types of communication devices we have now. It really makes ya wonder about Roswell (?)
    So who knows what we’ll see in the next few decades.
    The irony is that the more techy we all get, the more important the “arts” become. After all, HUMAN creativity is probably one of the few things you can’t replicate with a machine. Not art from the soul, anyway.
    I think the joke’s on all the parents who told their kids “You’ll never make any money in the arts! Learn about computers!” and the computer jobs are going overseas.
    I’m really getting off topic. This has been fun. I think overall we are all fortunate to have so many opportunities to work any many types of environments, whether home or office or both.

  129. asdf says:

    can’t work at home
    all i do is play games

  130. Sadly, my normal base work day is 12 hours, but I usually get stuck working for at least 15 to 16 hours. :(

  131. Adam says:

    Of course the problem being the dollar
    and the American Business model, most
    businesses these days run with limited staff
    and treat employee’s as a liability. One that
    is easily replaced, and it’s true. I think the
    more of us that follow our hearts and start
    our own businesses the more big business will
    change because they won’t have any staff.
    let’s start a revolution people

  132. BT says:

    I worked for 5 years at various 9-5 jobs, beating myself up every day because I couldn’t seem to stay focused all day. Blaming myself when really, no one can focus on a computer screen for 10 hours.

    Finally I decided to change things and I quit. I work from home on several different things (freelance, my own small business, some web design). I make my own hours, I have more money than I ever did working for someone else, and I have never been happier in my life.

    There is nothing more pointless to me than the stress and trouble caused by rush hour commuting. Why in the world do we have things designed so that we all have to suffer through 2-4 hour daily commutes? What a waste of energy and time. There should be big tax breaks and benefits for companies that provide flex time, work from home options, or anything that helps alleviate the rush hour gridlock.

  133. Owl6595 says:

    Dear BT–
    Wow, I couldn’t have said it better. Your comment here almost made me cry. I’ve been telecommuting for several months now after DECADES of fighting terrible rush hour traffic which robbed me of time with my family. I have been feeling so guilty lately, simply because I am comfortable in my yoga pants and the temp in my home is perfect and because I can feel a breeze and hear my wind chimes while I work. Yes, I throw a load of laundry in during my break. Yes, I have the tv on as background noise when I am doing data entry only. Yes, I drive my daughter to school twice a week before I clock in. But I put in 8 hrs or more per day, I clean and organize my office off the clock, I haven’t take a single sick day, and I am productive because I am happy and not distracted by lame office conversation. Thanks for alleviating some of the guilt. Sometimes it’s hard being a “pioneer.”

  134. Jesus P. says:

    This is interesting. Make sure you reag it all.

  135. stumbling stumbler says:

    to be perfectly honest, this is not the way to run a workplace. . .at the end of the day if your shift is (like you pointed out) eight hours long then you need to be productive for that eight hours.

    as for the claim about the eight hours being acceptable for manufacturing and not information: if we have to work under stressful conditions for that long (even though the stress is slightly different) then why should hiding in an office get a break when they don’t feel “productive”?

    if I were to take this attitude at my job I would be looking for work rather quickly, and to be blunt about it, your post sounds nothing more than someone in an office who’s a little upset because they’ve actually been held accountable to some set standards instead of being allowed to do whatever they feel like instead of work.

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  137. casper says:

    I’m surprised to know we are most productive in the beginning of the day. It makes sense, we don’t get distracted at the beginning of day and easier to stay focused.

  138. Keith says:

    Stop thinking like an employee and then maybe you’ll get why all that stuff doesn’t matter. Getting paid based on results is way better than paid vacations & overtime and all that stuff people call “benefits”. Getting paid on results allows you to do whatever you want and whenever you want. Think about it…..Are you a results creator? Or a work processor? One makes way more money than the other and can pick any benefit they want. Make sense?

  139. Chris Phone says:

    True enough we don’t use our full capacity at work, and I have to agree with several of the previous posters in that humans simply aren’t made to do one thing repetitively for hours on end. Funny, the rest of the world has caught on many years ago. Go to Spain for instance, and try to get your banking done around 2 p.m. Good luck. Siesta is a way to give people a break so that they can come back refreshed. Maybe we should copy that?

  140. HGH says:

    Quite interesting facts mentioned, thanks for sharing.


  141. I could not agree with this article more…

    The problem for those working online full time is getting away from the computer every couple of hours.

    Set task time limits and take those breaks and you will be more effective.

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  143. KeithB says:

    An interesting post.

    I have just left a job after 30 years of 8 hour working days – initially it was 9-5 but then shift work. Whatever the hours, I rarely got 8 hours work in each day and much of that was not very productive, anyway. I do now work from home and can see the differences. In fact, I am struggling to cope with the work I now have to do!

    In an office environment, too much time is wasted through pointless meetings and office politics. I used to work for a CEO who, when he found out a manager was in a meeting, would demand ‘Yes, but is he achieving anything in this meeting?’

    At home, I work an hour and have a 15 minute break. The initial reason is I have a back challenge and need to flex my back after an hour. It also gives me a mental rest as well as I can do a little housework or gardening in that break, so I come back refreshed and so more effective. But it is too easy to be distracted.

    I’m not sure I can see a time yet that 9-5 working hours will be removed as it does work for some industries and, in any case, as has already been said, there is too much inertia against it. However, you do start the thinking about at least flexibility in hours worked and what jobs could be covered from home.

    Anyway, time for my break…..

  144. HGH says:

    Wouldn’t that be nice, not to have to drive for an hour in rush hour traffic anymore.

  145. Dove says:

    you are an idiot, and you are part of the problem. I had a longer response prepared, but this one just made more sense.

  146. Dove says:

    oops sorry that was not for you Dave, it was for the guy above you with the rat-brain 100% income sharing 4 hour workday idea.

  147. ITG says:

    Honestly this 9-5pm job and 3 hours effective working theory applies only to the Jobs in the USA and Europe. If you see people in China and India they work more than 12 hours and almost 10 hours they get most productive work in a day. thats why we see outsourcing now a days….and cost is less on the top of it….

  148. sheep says:

    I personally would rather have a set salary then having to worry about filling out time sheets. And I would rather worry about getting the work done then being in the office by 8:00am or risk getting fired because I come in at 8:01am. sometimes I’m late to work, but when I get to work I’m ready to work, unlike everyone else who wastes the first 30-60 mins of company time making coffee and eating pastries. Which employee is worth more? One who is ready to get to work when they get there, or one who needs an extra hour to get settled in?

  149. Satesh says:

    BEST SITE EVER WRITTEN I AGREE COMPLETELY I am in my 20’s as well and fully agree and understand every single point. Well written. That is why companies like GOOGLE and MICROSOFT are the best because they encompass this. Remember life is all about work because that is nonsense you have to enjoy life but if you love work then do that but don’t set the precedent for others. WORK TO LIVE NOT LIVE TO WORK. Baby Boomers things are a changing :))))))) you can’t do anything about it!!!!!!!!

  150. You're an idiot says:

    maybe you should do real work. instead of posting this up. obviously you are ranting because you don’t like your job. i am fine working my 8 hours in, but just like the VERY first post, you work what you earned and you obviously deserve nothing for your complaining.

  151. owl27 says:

    So true, when you think about the impact it has on you, your family, and society. Imagine the money that is saved, the fuel that is saved, and the TIME that is saved. But you could go a step farther and say that perhaps there would be fewer auto accidents and acts of road rage with fewer cars out in rush hour traffic. Priceless.

  152. HGH says:

    The value (and hence pay) of work depends directly on what its output is worth to the market/society. Certainly some people/efforts are more valuable at 1 hour than others could ever be at 8 hours. One of the main reasons that “hourly wages” are typically found at the least value-added positions of unskilled labor.

  153. Mike says:

    While I feel that the article was dead-on about the rise of alternative work arrangements and the failings of the traditional 9-to-5 world of the cube, the most fascinating thing was reading some of the responses.

    Most have been positive but a few have been from people who are still clinging to the notion that work with traditional hours/in an office is the best way, and that form of work will never go away. Sometimes we cling to outdated trends/ideas because if there were something better out there, we might not be “good enough” embrace it. So we attack it and pretend to enjoy what we have.

    I work as a self-employed web developer, completely remotely with my own hours. I wouldn’t have it any other way – and I’m far more productive than I would be were I trapped in an office every day. I certainly don’t need “babysitting” by my employer, and I’m sure many of you out there who are also trapped in the 9-to-5 world don’t need it either!

  154. Jonathan says:

    An 8 hour work day “makes sense for physical labor” but is too much for mental work?

    This writer needs to shovel snow for just one hour, and then tell us whether 8 hours makes more sense for physical work than for mental work.

  155. Jeremy says:

    If you can do your work remotely *just as effectively* as at the physical office, then so can someone in Chindia at 1/10th your salary.

  156. Evie says:

    I disagree Dove, it is quite possible to create that type of work environment and ~ if one has the ability to carry oneself until funds start flowing ~ preferable :-)

  157. Evie says:

    I am with HGH and Owl :-)

  158. My usually really do not abandon responses but that to be able to this time! The spouse and i saved ones internet site upon reddit!

  159. sainath says:

    if i am handling new projects. And that also will be compleated within the day.because of production people will not provide the productds in time. i am working daily 12hours a day. And also our management also not give the correct plane.

  160. deviant says:

    Well done.

    If people had a little something to call their own, they’d all work harded.

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  162. Luke Rieve says:

    I am a pretty serious adventurist and will admit that I am anal about my tools. If there’s one nuance that I dislike, it is when my equipment break. That’s why I always get quality gear to outfit myself and be ready for most anything the trail throws at me.

  163. HGH says:

    Absolutely you are right. I will agree with you. You are sharing very good information. Most of the people are working 8 to 9 hours continuously. So they lose the ability to concentrate effectively on the work, then they will get sleep. Your article is too good. Keep going on…

  164. Thank God I’m a SoldierGirl4Real! I joined the military when I was 17. I am currently still serving because I love the Military Concept of Work. There are no 8 hours in the office. The branch I serve, allows me to be flexible in my schedule. I am an Information Technology specialist(Telecommunications)where I install wiring for voice and data connectivity along with additional tasks. I have a traveling kit such as a laptop, toolkit, tool belt that I manage with. I have a desktop which I have to dust off every friday because my time is spent on doing multiple things that are within my scope of work. I shedule change based on my agenda for that day. My employer is family and friends oriented. If you can see me now, you would not believe what you see. I am 46 years old feel and look like my daugher who is 23 years old. What the military taught me was God and Country! Not Money and Time! Balance is the key to flexibility when organized!

  165. CORRECTION!!!

    Thank God I’m a SoldierGirl4Real! I joined the military when I was 17. I am currently still serving because I love the Military Concept of Work. There are no 8 hours in the office. The branch I serve, allows me to be flexible in my schedule. I am an Information Technology specialist(Telecommunications)where I install wiring for voice and data connectivity along with additional tasks. I have a traveling kit such as a laptop, toolkit, tool belt that I manage with. I have a desktop which I have to dust off every friday because my time is spent on doing multiple things that are within my scope of work. my shedule changes based on my agenda for that day. My employer is family and friends oriented. If you can see me now, you would not believe what you see. I am 46 years old feel and look like my daugher who is 23 years old. What the military taught me was God and Country! Not Money and Time! Balance is the key to flexibility when well-organized!

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  168. Kevin says:

    I agree entirely with the points you’ve made. Having people sitting 8 hours at a PC is unproductive – as well as hell for those forced to do it.

    The problem is to change the attitudes of employers. Employers don’t want to give people freedom. They want to maintain control over their workforces. It doesn’t suit them to change the existing arrangements. And if anything the current talk is of everyone having to work more hours.

    At least some companies allow flexible starting and finishing, but this is still often done with the idea of a time account.

    And the last company I worked for as an employee – a big US multinational – were extending the hours worked by everyone, using all sorts of daft arguments to support their claim. Such as time spent talking to colleagues, time spent walking to and from the site entrance – yes incredible, but true. We joked that the next round of work time extensions would be based on making us work longer to over our own ‘toilet time’. (We were all office workers by the way).

    They did all this despite their being union agreements about the length of the working week in force. Not worth the paper they were printed on. Basically employers do what they want.

    Its very hard to change attitudes in these situations. Hell, I was even considered exotic for insisting on having a standing table to work at, rather than sitting down all day. The health and safety team came round to advise people on the right ergonomics, height of monitor etc for each member of staff, but when they got to my high standing table they were stumped! And yet standing is actually healthier than sitting all day.

  169. Jim Baugh says:

    I’m only really productive for about 1/2 hour a day; so I hope I can get a future job that offers this. I really need it.

  170. ecommerce says:

    I will be so happy if this happens as I am one of the 9 to 5 working professional and experienced everything as you explained in your blog post that favoring to employees. Virtual office or working from home is a great solution of this problem and i am waiting to happen this as early as possible.

  171. Rich says:

    Hey everyone. I hated working a 9 to 5 job. It completely sucked. Everyday waking up and slopping off to work. By the time I got out all I wanted was a drink. It made my life dull and boring. I wasn’t happy with it is what the problem was. Then I learned a few things and changed that. Get what you need to quit your 9 to 5 today. Start being happy for once. Imagine waking up and not having to even commute. It is possible and I how you decide to get started soon.

  172. Dzilla says:

    9 to 5’s suck. I’m so glad I don’t have to wake up and go to a job that I’m not happy at. I made the decision to make a change in my life and I know anyone can do it. If you have a computer and internet access you just about there already. I didn’t think it was possible. But it is. Don’t go work for some jerk making a meagerly wage with no real opportunity to excel. Start being your own boss and make your own hours.

  173. Gary says:


    About the revolution thing. I want it to happen. I don’t think it will. There is a part of me that wants to do something big. Something huge. I guess I want meaning in my life. I am ignorant and do not know much about revolutions.

    Our lives consist of the following: waking up, eating, sex and sleep. (Give or take some parts) There is nothing else we need. We need food, mates and shelter. Money is not part of the life cycle. It is about value.

    I value my life, Adam. I am scared but I want to do this. I want to be free. I want to be an animal again. I want to run into the desert naked. I want to take my clothes off and be naked in the desert. Like an animal.

    Your laughing. It’s funny. But it’s only funny because you have been taught through socialization that people wear clothes, go to work, get married, get divorced, retire and play bingo the rest of their lives.

    If you think that is how I should live, then I ask you to kill me, Adam.

    I want to be free. If I am going to die, then god damn it, Adam, I am going to live how I want. I have nothing to lose. I am losing time. One man on one planet with one desire.

    We always talk but we never do. We’re so afraid of change. Why is that? Why do we do that? And we always kill those who are for change.

    I know what I want. I want to run free in the desert. Naked. Like the way it was meant to be. I guess I am crazy.

    That is my revolution, Adam.

  174. Stan says:

    I am a software engineer and i sit in front of the computer for 8 hours a day for the last 9 years.

    I can tell you from first hand experience I am having the worst time of life, most days I am productive for about 2-3 hours before i get pulled in to a meaningless meeting with project managers. Office politics is bullshit and having to ride the subway in NYC during rush hour has given me a panic disorder that i’ve been dealing with for the past 4 years.

    Human beings are simply not meant to operate 9-5 (just ask Spain) it is simply ludicrous. If I could walk outside my house and walk across the street to my office then 9-5 would be a little more bearable, but what makes work that much more stressful is the commute. I cannot believe that we spend 2-4 hours PER DAY just to get to and from work, that’s almost half the entire workday….that is time that could be used for relaxation and with family.

    I have developed severe anxiety and mild depression from work and the funny thing is when I picture my life without work and just working for myself I feel instantly better..that’s a big sign in my opinion.

  175. B. Simpson says:

    I was nodding in accord until you made this ignorant statement:

    “The ability of a factory worker to think analytically is irrelevant, he’s either cranking widgets or he isn’t.”

    I do wish you had to work in a factory where you had to be concerned for not only your safety but the safety of your colleagues. Until you have actually done such work, you should not presume anything and reveal your lack of life experience and say such things.

    However, this statement rang as obvious:

    “I may only be a kid in his 20′s,…”

    After I read that, I understood your confusion, kid.

  176. Eva says:

    Have you ever timed how long a person with an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can stay on a computer and focus on a video game? How does your “natural productivity cycle” fit that scenario?

    In all work environments, perhaps one of the biggest factors affecting attention span and productivity is how much a person loves that type of work. Working in an office can be difficult, but working from home can be worse for some people. Either way, problem solving and effective communication are keys to improving work flow.

    I’ve worked an Administrative Assistant job both in-office, and remotely. I’ll take remote (being introverted as I am), but it’s had it’s challenges. Sometimes, I miss the efficient office design, the face-to-face interaction with people, and being “in the loop” or knowing of what’s coming up before it hits.

  177. Ang says:

    This is really an enthusiastic discussion. The thread started since 2009 till today the new dawn of 2011.

    Most seems to agree with the writer. Have anyone think of it from a manager or business owner’s perspective? What will you do?

    9-5 working hour sucks. But change is the biggest enemy to people, especially when your money, ur life, ur family and ur living standard as a business owner is at stack.

    I totally agree with the peak hour of productivity theory because i’ve experienced it myself. However, for some type of jobs, it’s possible to remain productive for the entire working period because it’s not that they don’t need to be creative, but it’s more of being able to stay strong in term of physical power and alerted, then it’s a job well done.

    I have to say this to all of you, every job requires a certain level of creativity within a pre-defined constraint. but when it comes to Technology, what ist the limit of creativity required? As a boss, i would say to my staff, give me ur brightest idea of not only among ur peer, but also other business competitor so as to earn the Outstanding tag.

  178. Mark Dacoron says:

    This is something that I think about all the time. Jobs are always there but the time isn’t anymore. But we need to work to make money.

  179. kennedy says:

    As a desk jockey myself, I can completely and utterly empathize with this article. But here in America, we do things backwards and whatever is the most inefficient way to do things. We waste so much time and money and so many resources when we don’t have to. You will not find one employee who works and is productive their entire shift, that is a fact.

    We wonder why we are fat, lazy, tired, miserable, stressed, on drugs or alcohol, don’t have time for anything and wonder why our kids turn out bad…we don’t have the time. Between commutes and the hours we out in, we don’t have time or energy for our other commitments. Weekends are no longer enjoyed because we have so many things to catch up on from the week. I don’t know why we keep doing this to ourselves and why no one questions it. We are just sheep and go along with everything and it’s killing us.

  180. Scott says:

    This post is utter garbage. I work 12 hour days, on my feet, with an hour lunch-55 hour week followed by a 66 hour week. I can just about guarantee that you wouldn’t make it a week working for me. I’m what you ignorantly term “physical labor and manufacturing work”. If by that you mean I have 2 master degrees, on site at an oil field equipment maintenance facility as an electrical engineer who also troubleshoots and maintains circuits then you are correct. I work on 5 or 6 different issues a day, all requiring my full attention and dedication. Sure, I step back and take a break to think about an issue every now and then. However, according to your theory, my job is mindless-so clearly I’m wasting my time.

    I would go on, but you said at the end you are “in your twenties”. So, now I know you are stupid AND young. Its pointless to type any further.

  181. Yosuf says:

    Hey HollywoodDream if you work 12 hours a day and sometimes up to 15. consider getting a new job. no one should have to work that long. I hope you find something better soon

  182. Sam says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I had the luxury of a job that allowed me to work from home as needed and I was so much more productive. Trying to write that next article can be hard, and sometimes all I needed was to walk my dog and clear my head. Stuck in an office, there is so much politics — step outside to clear your head and 3 people will stop you on the way to ask you to do something for them, and then when you get back another 3 people will complain that they couldn’t find you.

    I’m sick of working in a world where showing up at 7:59am and leaving at 5:02pm is rewarded more than quality work.

    Once I work up the nerve (and funding), I’m going to leave the rat race and run my own business! And my employees will work from home (saving me tons of money on overhead!)

  183. Johanna says:

    Good blog post! I was fortunate to have a job where my boss put this idea into practice (I believe it’s ROWE?). As long as we completed 40 hours a week (some things you can never change), we could work whenever we wanted.

    Companies have no idea how much money they waste on building offices, providing supplies / services, and paying employees when they’re not at peak performance!!

  184. Unknown says:

    I used to love working in an office in front of a computer screen, now all I want is to do physical activities – run, cycling, sports eat well and sleep

    Isn’t there a job out there who balances all of these activities, I remember our parents used to tell us not to watch too much TV or Play video games, not healthy sitting in front of a screen for too long.

    Sitting in front of a computer screen for money is no fun.

    now that I think about it, any job that you do for someone else in return for money is no fun.
    Money should never be the reason you do any job in the first place.

  185. Elle says:

    Great post! have to share my experience and would love any feedback as this is something I struggle with still to this day.

    Firstoff let me start by saying I’ve been a 9-5er, a freelancer, a contractor, designer, consultant, etc. I have had all different types of work environments and I have taken with me the good and bad I’ve learned from all of the. I like to say I have a good work ethic because any environment I can pretty much adapt to.

    However, during my longest 9-5ish stint, I was at a studio working my butt -at least 10-12 hour days. When I quit, I swore I never would do that type of working arrangement again. So I started my own design studio with that intention. I remember saying, “I won’t make my employees work a strict 9-5, as long as they get their work done, I don’t care when they are in the office”. Employees loved it, thought it was great, everyone was happy. And that was all fine and dandy for like a month. Because what started happening was people were showing up at 11, 12, 1pm, and then they would leave at 6pm because that is what they considered the end of the day. They started asking for more time to do things rather than making their deadlines (on specific things I would do myself that I know don’t take that long), and they got comfortable. Not sure if it matters but all of my employees are under 30 and most of them have not had a corporate or 9-5 job before. Seeing as that I am not much older than them, I figured the flexible work option for reasons you discuss above was the best approach.

    In my situation it really didn’t work. The next thing I did was implement the “as long as you work 40 hours a week, manage your own arrival/departure time”. That as well lasted about a month, and then people were back to their old ways coming in late and leaving early. My next attempt was, “as long as you put in 8 hours a day I don’t care when you arrive/depart” With that, another problem started happening. Once I got to 10 employees, I had some who were used to the 8 hour day so they would come in and put in an 8 hour day, but there were others who still couldn’t get it. The 8 hour a day people got mad at the non-8hr a day people, and it caused tension in the office about our culture not being fair. Some perceived themselves as harder workers because they were in the office for more time.

    My third approach to solve this problem was to give a window of time to arrive and depart for the day. The window was 2 hours, and based on the time you got in during that window determined when you would leave based on 8 hours. Again, that worked great for about 2 months this time, and then people started disregarding the window and would leave at 6pm no matter what time they arrived in the morning–because again, that is what they considered to be the end of the day. I was faced with the early arrival people frustrated again.

    As you can see I struggle with this. I WANT so bad to have that flexible environment you speak of–not only for myself but for the people that work for me. But because of different personalities, work styles, etc, I have struggled with success of it in my business. I really don’t want to have a 9-5 office but sometimes I feel I have no choice–not only to be fair, but to actually get the work done!

    Lastly, I did try the remote location as well. This was the most epic failure of all! I ran into problems with people sleeping during the day and not being available, or out and about running errands when I needed them for a conference call. It was torture trying to track people down!

  186. Chunks says:

    To be perfectly honest, you’re part of the problem. It’s easy to do manual labor for eight hours a day. Manual labor generally means you can turn your brain off. It’s for that very reason that I’ve so often thought about quitting my computer-desk job and going out on a construction gig. Why? Because braining my way through a day, every day, being expected to pull through a traditional 8 hour day is wearying, to say the least. If you’ve heard of the term “rage-quit” before, then know that I struggle every day to not rage-quit my rather well-paying job and throw myself onto the mercy of an otherwise hopeless job market. I’d rather be physically tired/exhausted at the end of the day than mentally so, since the latter is only making me increasingly angry and depressed.

    p.s. I’m betting you’re Republican… just a hunch.

  187. Chunks says:

    Two words:

    You’re an idiot.

  188. Daniel Tan says:

    I myself have moved from corporate world into work from home environment. It definitely gives more flexibility, though it is a challenge to get work done on occasions. Like you suggest it is becoming new reality for lots of people, sure we will evolve to be able to get more and more creative and productive.

  189. Tony says:

    Definitely agree with you on this subject. I’ve done manufacturing work for almost 20 years and it wasn’t hard to keep going but then I started to work from home and you have to take breaks. Mentally impossible to be in front of the computer for 8 hours and be productive. Very interesting take on this.

    Great post!

  190. Nathan says:

    This isn’t the type of work he is talking about, try working in an office for 8 a day, at the same desk, without leaving the office for errands for a year and then you can comment.

  191. KR says:


    I find both the blogpost and your response very interesting. Your comment is valuable to this topic as it provides empirical evidence on the subject, so I am interested. When your employees broke your rules, did you have any sort of private meetings with them or discuss the possible consequence of being fired? I believe that lack of communication inhibits any solution, and I desperately want a solution to the 9-5 work life. I think that schedule works for anyone who is truly happy with it, but I am not that person, and neither are many others. Different people have different styles and approaches.

    I am inclined to think that if you clearly stated in a written or verbal agreement that X-number of unmet deadlines would be grounds for termination, your employees would be positively responsive, but I’ve been wrong before.

    Your response would be very appreciated.

  192. techbiscuit says:

    I’d argue that games don’t take much mental energy to begin with. Some games are designed around constant problem solving and thinking, but most games balance gameplay between problem solving and action (which turns out to be mostly action) specifically for this reason. Many people will get bored and stop playing if they have to think too much.

    So, giving an ADD person a game that is constantly moving, constantly providing a new experience is not a very good comparison.

  193. beblebrox says:

    The above poster has a very old-fashioned and outdated view on work. Frankly, an employer should only care about getting the work at hand done in a timely and professional manner; the hours put in or when those hours are put in, should not be their concern. Technology and communications have begun to free us from the old Chaplinesque Modern Times view of being slaves to the machines. The traditional office should not be the modern sweatshop with the employee chained to the computer instead of some industrial loom or assembly line machine. I am a partner in a business that is done entirely from our homes. The amount of time I put in on a daily basis is entirely dependent upon what needs to be done. Some days an hour or two is all that is required, some days twelve or sixteen hours is not enough. In the end it all balances out. I have to admit, that morning commute down the hall to my home office is a killer! That two or three seconds I waste every day just kill me!! 😉

    BTW Chunks: I happen to be a Republican, albeit one who leans heavily Libertarian. It doesn’t make me a Neanderthal; I just like to keep as much of what I earn as humanly possible.

  194. nomad says:

    Not only will 9-5 be gone, but so will most of the jobs. Automation is replacing the need to hire people. Remote working is just one step closer to not needing to hire someone. This is great for the company, they can pay you less while they automate their online web business, then then can let you go for good.

    Be careful what you wish for!

    The less complicated you make it for the employer, they will no longer have to justify paying you a full wage or keeping you full time. The ultimate goal for the future employer will be to find an excuse to hire little or no employees. It’s already begun.

  195. Bob says:

    I think all jobs shouldn’t be 8 hours long, nobody can concentrate for that long period day after day … even if it’s labor work, people will get tired … I would be happier with 2 part time jobs that are completely different from each other. This will be the future as companies can’t afford paying full time staff and we just get any jobs we can.

  196. Drew says:

    I don’t want to give all my productive hours to my job. I’d like to have a few for myself.

  197. Karen says:

    I’m not opposed to changing the consistent 9 to 5 time structure, but, as a feng shui consultant, I have consistently seen people who do not have a dedicated office space – whether it is in a commercial office building or their home – not have or lose out on business opportunities (AKA money.) Energetically, the roaming, “Starbuck’s office worker” who does not have a real, honest-to-gosh desk is “seen” as temporary, perhaps “part-time,” or perhaps even “unstable.”
    I have amassed enough proof from clients over the years to believe that making this one environmental change and no other – simply building a permanent “office” ANYWHERE – you can bring to you a more stable job and higher income.
    Can we turn around the economy by creating more stable workplaces? I say, “if you build it, stability will come.” Out of work? Give this tactic a try. And if you go to my website and sign in, I’ll send you a free webinar that shows you exactly how to set up that desk!
    Hope this helps!

  198. Vincent Dipasqua says:

    I get paid by the hour

  199. Screw9to5man says:

    I first heard about this remote working idea when I read Tim Ferris’ book “the four hour work week”, and to me, it makes complete sense. I also agree that employee’s should be paid for the results they achieve and not the hours they put in. However, this does not mean that people should be on those ridiculous commission only contracts where they only get paid if they make a sale, but if we take a sales job as an example, maybe you could pay someone for the number of calls that they make, as opposed to the number of sales they make  or the number of hours they put in. 

    People would be free to work at their own pace and be a lot happier. 

  200. Jyotiyarlagadda says:

    I use to work in my office, but due to depressions in my life i am not getting as much motivation to do my job greatly, some times my aged seniors, and colleagues behave so stupidly that i always think to quit my job. I am now a days sitting at my home as i had got some allergies from sun. I fear going out to my office and outside. please advice me some suggestions to get job in good enviroment.

  201. I agree with this… I find myself least motivated in the office when I am trudging through a section of work that has been removed from the overall picture. I complete a unit of work and pass it on and never find out what the result was.

    Very demoralising.

  202. Remote work arrangements are a great idea, depending on the business.  Call centers, for instance, can easily be done from home with little to no change in company structure.  Some other businesses will find it impossible to go to this arrangement, though I can’t quite come up with any specific ideas other than those physical labor jobs you mentioned already.  

    I think that some people would take advantage of this system to do less work, but that would be a minority.  There are already those people in the current system.  Is it easier to work from home?  Maybe for some.  For others they may prefer the office setting.

    Some people may not have the discipline to get up and create a routine to “go to work” while working from home.  There is also something to be said for having an office to go to.  It makes you feel like you belong somewhere.

  203. Ash says:

    I work 2 days from home and I am definitely more productive then, than on the days that I come to work driving around 50 miles each way. By the end of the day I am exhausted and makes me simply crash for the day. When I work from home, I am able to stay energised and keep my mental focus on not just the Job at hand, but on other tasks as well.

    My current Client manager wants me to work 4 days from home.. as she understands that I am way more productive then when I drive and get to office. But unfortunately, the a*hole mgr that I am tied to thinks that Working from home is equivalent to slacking. There have been times when I have practically proven that its twice more productive to WFH then in office, but he will not understand. Thats cause hes still old world and thinks that you gotto sit next to ur programmer to get work done. what a arse.

    Anyways.. Great article.

  204. Givans1980 says:

    I love this post! When I am reading, linking, writing and emailing, I find myself struggling to stay focused if I don’t break my activities up during the day. Sometimes, I will do article writing for and feel like I am just getting to the point where I can’t focus one more minute so I will change to a different job or task. Even that helps me keep productive but the best way, when it is possible, is to cook dinner or go grocery shopping or even just read to my kids for a bit. Then I am ready and raring to go again.

  205. Ererw says:

    I do more work from home. When I go into the office it’s just to talk to hot coworkers.

  206. Adwello says:

    We are experiencing a major shift in the way people interact, live and work because we are being constantly exposed to ever new philosophical ideas through the global internet. Suddenly we can bring Tibet into our living room, or chat to people across the globe. We are discovering new beliefs and being challenged by the rut of our own concepts. More people are staying at home to create a new income online so in time our work patterns will break far away from the traditional 9 to 5 and this can only be beneficial to the ecology of our planet!

  207. Bryan Admin says:

    One point missed is that your talking about 9 to 5, as in the 70’s. My mother worked in an office pushing papers 9 to 5 and this allowed her to buy a house and raise 3 teenage boys on her own. 9 to 5 is not eight hour days, it was 7 hour days – plus 2 fifteen minute coffee breaks (6.5 hours total). I could not buy a house and raise kids on the 8 to 5+ that I work today. And, I am not responsible for just one thing, as my mother was, but we are now piled high with all kinds of crap that would have taken multiple employees to do in the past, and companies are happy to pile on more to save a buck if they think it is almost possible.
    I would love sleep in and to come in to work at 9:00, and I would love to have a paid lunch included in that 9 to 5 – and two fifteen minute breaks, as was the case in the past. I would also love to work on the same amount of tasks that my 9 to 5 mother was working on.
    It would be a far more lax office working environment and less taxing on ones over-processed multi-tasking brain.

    Leisurely walk into work at 9:00. 
    Take a fifteen minute break at  10:45.
    Continue work at 11:00.
    Take an hour lunch at 12:30.
    Continue work at 1:30.
    Take a fifteen minute break at 3:00.
    Work at 3:15.
    Leave at 5:00

    Total hours worked= 6.5 hoursI think it would be great for everybody to return to the 70’s 9 to 5 model, or the 7 to 3, and mixing it up with working from home, etc.  – BUT, all within that 9 to 5 model with paid lunches and having a similar number of work responsibilities.

    Why should I do more and more work and receiving less and less benefits to save the company money when I am not compensated.  And, what’s with the less benefits if I am doing the job of multiple people? I should be getting more benefits since I am saving the company having to pay for two other peoples benefits. Worse this is considered the norm? I guess people are just stupid thinking  it is normal to get constantly screwed by billion dollar corporations while expected to do more.

  208. Guest says:

    You sit in a chair while some grunt cranks those widgets in the extreme heat or extreme cold, yes your job must be hard for 8 hours.

  209. Working hours
    and conditions vary greatly for lawyers depending on the area in which
    they work. Generally, a lawyer’s job is considered a 9-5 job but most
    work more than that. There are horror stories
    of associates sleeping in the office, working 100 hour weeks etc.
    There are also lawyers that work the midnight shift. In Philadelphia,
    for instance, arraignment courts are run during the night. They need a
    judge, a prosecutor and sometimes a defense attorney to run this court.

    I hope this helps.

    From the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    Salaried lawyers usually have structured work schedules. Lawyers who are in private practice
    may work irregular hours while conducting research, conferring with
    clients, or preparing briefs during nonoffice hours. Lawyers often work
    long hours, and of those who regularly work full time, about half work
    50 hours or more per week. They may face particularly heavy pressure
    when a case is being tried. Preparation for court includes keeping
    abreast of the latest laws and judicial decisions.

    Although legal work generally is not seasonal, the work of tax lawyers
    and other specialists may be an exception. Because lawyers in private
    practice often can determine their own workload and the point at which
    they will retire, many stay in practice well beyond the usual retirement

  210. Anonymous says:

    This writer’s article reflects her age demographic’s reality and perspective, and it is important to consider and respect.

    As Baby Boomers such as I enter middle age and, within the next 30+ years, start retiring as the largest age demographic in our population, the smaller-population demographics younger than us, including that of this article’s writer, will be intercommunicating with and assisting us by means of the roles and job positions that they will be choosing and carrying out in our society.

    This writer’s demographic accurately communicates her generation’s perspective and experience growing up and working/interacting in a reality that has been immersed in increasing assistive technologies, e-communications, and the need and desire more to have to balance increasingly multitasked job information responsibilities with caring for selves, partners, children, longer-working and becoming-chronically-ill parents and, sometimes, even grandparents, in ever more extended family or other loved ones living situations.  The days are fading away when one’s personal life and obligations stop at their employer’s workplace door, and when their work responsibilities shut off when they open the door to their homes or apartments.  Work and life, in today’s reality and among the Millennial Generation in particular, are now global, multitasked, and in many ways 24/7.  Insightful article, and thanks for this.

  211. We are always evolving and I agree that a fixed time schedule may not work for many jobs. It is common for people to have flexible working hours depending on their areas of expertise. 

  212. Jonas412 says:

    yea thats called workplace Communism, no. 

  213. I think there is a lot of truth in this article and hopefully we will start to move in this direction. I think many people would gain great benefit from it – I myself agree that there would be several unproductive hours during my day that would be better off spent outside of the office – I think the issue with it going mainstream is that there are a lot of people out there who would abuse the privilege – I would imadine you would need to link it to a purely commission based pay structure. Food for through though. 


  214. You will have more Suicide.. People need to interact to remain normal… Sounds good but how do you regulate pay vs. time. Say you only get paid while you are at you computer. When you work in an office you get paid even if you are just getting a cup of coffee or a drink of water. This would just be a way for company’s to shorten an already short pay check…You will argue that it will free people up, but it wont. It will just be another way to rip the worker. Road to hell and good intentions.

  215. If I have an employee that needs to work more than 40 hours a week to
    get their job done, then I have 1 of 2 problems. The first problem is
    clearly there is too much work for that person and I need to hire
    someone to ease the burden. The second problems could be the person is
    wrong for the job. They may need training, coaching or they just may be
    a bad fit. Regardless of which problem it is, it is my problem

  216. jmarms1227 says:

    I disagree.

  217. I think the way why we work from 9 to 5 is politics and history of tradition. It began in the agricultural society where people used to wake up very early and stop working when sun set.  After this came the industrial period with machines and labor unions: people demanded shorter periods and it would seem to be logical that people stopped working earlier. 

  218. Krona2k says:

    You are correct, I’m sure doubters will be proven wrong over the next couple of decades. There are many variables involved but home working seems likely to increase.

  219. Online Money says:

    Nice article. As a self employed IT consultant I spend a lot of time
    in offices, and a lot of time in front of a computer at home. My work
    day is spread out among the 24 hours depending upon when the problems
    occur and when I can access systems around other workers. (I am forced
    to do a lot of work at night, remotely, when everyone is off the

    For the clients I work with, remote or telecommuting is
    a big issue . The big problem with remote workers in a large corporate
    environment is the bias against the workers when it comes to
    responsibility and promotion.

  220. coleman larson says:

    i use CAD to write CNC machine programs in aerospace manufacturing and while its not exactly the kind of work you are referring to i totally agree with your statement about the loss of motivation. i work a 10 hour shift i am highly productive when i arrive at work at 1:00 pm, but drop off by 3:00 or 4:00. at 6:00 i have a 2 hour break during which i practice martial arts at a local gym. the physical activity breaks up the monotony of the mental activity and i return feeling refreshed and am again highly productive for 2 or 3 hours. beyond that time my ability and motivation to problem solve just goes out the window and i am reduced to watching the clock until 1:00 am!

    with that said there is the issue of interacting with other businesses and other departments.  not every ones periods of increased productivity coincide and if there is no standard work day, how are we to get things done that involve more than just ourselves? 

  221. Cristian says:

    Henry, your solution is addressing the symptom and not the cause of the problem. As I read the post, many office workers disklike, if not outright resent their company/office environment. Some will like it, and yet for another some it will be the best deal (because they have kids, or because their work requires frequent contact with their other colleagues etc.). But for those who prefer to maximize their productivity/time and whose work does not require a lot of contact with colleagues, what you propose sounds to me like treating an infected wound with pain killers, when it is clear that antibiotics would be more appropriate. For those whose work requires them daily or frequent contact with their coworkers and supervisors, 9-5 may work, and as the original article mentions your solution is already in place in some companies. The companies themselves come, after all, in all shapes and sizes, with good one and bad one (I’ve seen both environments and that in itself was a learning experience as I now know what to stay away from).

    Something else that I’m more interested in, and how I ran into this article, is whether companies would be interested in a mix of 7-3, 9-5, and 11-7 working schedule. I know for myself that some people are most productive if they don’t have to wake up at 6 to be in the office at 9, and then an 11-7 schedule would be best not only for the employee who hates it to have to be there at 9, but also for the company who now has to deal with a “coffeinated zombie” to quote someone else above. I know some companies have implemented the 7-3 option as an alternative to 9-5 and that works especially well for the working parents types, but for me, a single guy in his early 30’s with a education/background in biotech (which often requires me to be in the office as it is a highly collaborative business) I think both my and my company would get the best “bang for the buck” if I showed up late and left equally later. I think most people in their 20’s would resonate to that idea. It’s just a matter of recognizing individual differences in work preferences and styles and making the most out of them, to the employer’s and employee’s benefit.

  222. Cristian says:

    Well, with the events of 2011 (economic crisis in the US, Portugal and Greece’s governments nearly falling apart), the west has a great opportunity to do just that now. Question is, will the politicians just patch a few things here and there to satisfy the populace enough to get re-elected (as they usually do), or will they dare to revamp the whole thing. Obama has done more than others, I think, but the opposition from the Republicans is of course staunch as usual. Europe is just as resistant to change as usual, and there’s just as much bickering within the EU about which country’s way of doing things will prevail as before the wars (ok maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here).

    I am a Romanian citizen, whose native country joined the EU in 2007. I moved to the US for my undergraduate and master studies (NYS and CA), therefore experiencing the US for 8 years (and therefore accidentally and unfortunately overlapping nearly fully with the Bush admin), then moved to Denmark to see how life is in the New Europe for my PhD where I have been the last 3 years.

  223. Cristian says:

    Nice to see that there are some forward-thinking Republicans… have you guys seen Office space (the movie). Very relevant especially to Chunk’s blog entry – I think he’ll find himself quite a lot there

  224. Cristian says:

    Funny, why not go to Portugal instead and see a failing economic system. The culture is not that different from Spain. It’s somewhat unfortunate to see Americans complain about the situation in their own country and think that things in other countries, usually European ones, is so much better. Spain has had siesta probably since the Inquisition, and it is not because they are very forward-thinking (they are not), but because of TRADITION.

    I’ve lived in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the US, and worked in the latter two, and I can tell you for sure, it’s sometimes real sweet to be able to go to the grocery store in the middle of the night as you can in the States, but certainly not in Western, or even the (practicing longer working-hours) Eastern Europe.

  225. Cristian says:

    Remember, it is the Americans that fled Europe looking for a change, not the other way around – the Spaniard haven’t changed their ways in a long long time.

  226. Cristian says:

    Coleman, how do you interact when you need the help of a colleague who is temporarily out of office – because in a meeting, or on vacation, or traveling for business, or doing work off-site for a few hours. You simply get back to them later, or you set up a meeting when they are available, you call them up or email them to see whether the problem can be solved without face-to-face contact, or to find a time when they are available.  You would do the same if they are only working part-time in the office and part-time at home.

  227. LV says:

    The folks advocating for not only office working, but “open” office working — with no offices, walls, etc. — as if it’s THE way forward, are doing an extreme disservice to the 51% of the population that are introverts (I’m talking true introversion here, not shyness, as extroverts can be shy also.)

    Believe it or not, some people work better in semi-solitude, without distractions and constant chatter (or worse, small talk and gossiping)  around them. I know this may be hard for extroverts to understand.

    From what I’ve read here, the introvert/extrovert personality variable hasn’t come up in this conversation, and I think it’s a BIG oversight because it could be THE key factor in how people prefer to work.

    My (rather uneducated) guess is that extroverts will prefer office work (most of the time) while introverts would prefer telecommuting (most of the time). It just comes down to what works great for one person doesn’t work great for another person — I think we all know this to be true.

    It’s very frustrating to see extroverts not recognizing this fact, pushing the “open” office landscape, as if we’re abnormal for not enjoying having no private/personal space in the office, or abnormal for preferring to work in a closed office or at home.

  228. Miller1657 says:

    Mote companies should adopt a growing concept called ROWE ( Results Only Work Environment). This concept allows employees to work from wherever and whenever as long as their work is getting done. My employer just rolled this policy out company wide and they piloted ROWE for 6 month and the results were very positive.
    I feel extremely fortunate to work for such a progressive company.

  229. Pingback: The 9-to-5 doesn’t always make sense. How I work: Discipline. Differences. Structures. Boundaries. Freedom.

  230. Shove says:

    “I had a longer response prepared, but this one just made more sense.”

    Yeah, I bet you did. 

  231. Aksivad says:

    Oh the drudgery of  9 to 5!   I read this in total disbelief until the author noted the age, so it all fits together now.  I honestly find the views and beliefs a common affliction in the age group, which may be why he/she assumes more people are taking note.   If they are, it’s because people believe this drivel and the people that know better are retiring.

    Why would someone need coffee to stay awake until 5:30 in the afternoon?  I know, the author is out partying or playing video games until the wee hours and the “job” and the 9-5 hours are not conducive to his/her lifestyle .  Conversely, if one goes to bed early to commitments, are in their 20’s and are still tired at 5:30 pm, my apologies and go see a doctor. . . SOON. 

    Interesting how easily it is to stereotype.  Factory workers just make widgets and don’t need or perform critical thinking.  Wow, tell that to an Electrician, or Machinist.  Yes they work in factories.  I am a white collar professional, but I do know the critical thought needed to get the work completed.  Perhaps the author meant assembly line worker?  There is much evidence that type of repetitive work requires even more breaks or people get hurt. 

    This post attempting to pass as an article, but upon examination, it is good that a tree was not sacrificed for this garbage.  Unfortunately perhaps some coal  burned for power…  There are no references to completed studies or facts to support the authors “theories”.   He/she is correct that by writing it down, people believe it.

    Bet the author would need to research when the 12 hour standard day became a “grueling” 8 hr / 40 hr work week. Little further back in the early 1900’s, children worked 12hr. 6 days a week.  Did the author consider the competition and someone replacing them that doesn’t have an issue with how the rest of planet Earth works?

    Good luck to the author trying to shape the whole world to match his/her vision.  Why not, in the author’s alternate reality it revolves around him/her anyway?

    Likely twice the age of the author and apparently I work longer, harder and didn’t need a gov. bailout of any type.  But then I moved out of my parents house during college and wasn’t raised in the era of entitlements.

  232. Aksivad says:

    Oh the drudgery of  9 to 5!   I read this in total disbelief until the author noted the age, so it all fits together now.  I honestly find the views and beliefs a common affliction in the age group, which may be why he/she assumes more people are taking note.   If they are, it’s because people believe this drivel and the people that know better are retiring.

    Why would someone need coffee to stay awake until 5:30 in the afternoon?  I know, the author is out partying or playing video games until the wee hours and the “job” and the 9-5 hours are not conducive to his/her lifestyle .  Conversely, if one goes to bed early to commitments, are in their 20’s and are still tired at 5:30 pm, my apologies and go see a doctor. . . SOON. 

    Interesting how easily it is to stereotype.  Factory workers just make widgets and don’t need or perform critical thinking.  Wow, tell that to an Electrician, or Machinist.  Yes they work in factories.  I am a white collar professional, but I do know the critical thought needed to get the work completed.  Perhaps the author meant assembly line worker?  There is much evidence that type of repetitive work requires even more breaks or people get hurt. 

    This post attempting to pass as an article, but upon examination, it is good that a tree was not sacrificed for this garbage.  Unfortunately perhaps some coal  burned for power…  There are no references to completed studies or facts to support the authors “theories”.   He/she is correct that by writing it down, people believe it.

    Bet the author would need to research when the 12 hour standard day became a “grueling” 8 hr / 40 hr work week. Little further back in the early 1900’s, children worked 12hr. 6 days a week.  Did the author consider the competition and someone replacing them that doesn’t have an issue with how the rest of planet Earth works?

    Good luck to the author trying to shape the whole world to match his/her vision.  Why not, in the author’s alternate reality it revolves around him/her anyway?

    Likely twice the age of the author and apparently I work longer, harder and didn’t need a gov. bailout of any type.  But then I moved out of my parents house during college and wasn’t raised in the era of entitlements.

  233. Aksivad says:

    Good thing you don’t bill by the hour!

  234. Aksivad says:

    Good thing you don’t bill by the hour!

  235. Aksivad says:

    Wow, you must be a historian!  In reading your response it appears you graduated Sesame Street.  Bet you believe the author knows what he/she is talking about also.

  236. Aksivad says:

    Wow, you must be a historian!  In reading your response it appears you graduated Sesame Street.  Bet you believe the author knows what he/she is talking about also.

  237. Aksivad says:

    Good thing you used “IF”

  238. Aksivad says:

    Good thing you used “IF”

  239. Aksivad says:

    Sorry, the article is the author’s alternate reality.  This is Planet Earth, accept it.

  240. Aksivad says:

    Wow, someone in touch with actual reality.  And addresses the author with more kindness and consideration than I have.

    I still stand by my statements.  Final statement to the author, don’t drink out of the bong.

  241. Aksivad says:

    I don’t want to pay money to taxes.  My name is not Enron or General Electric.  Will I get what I want?

    Don’t give all your productive hours to your job, save some for yourself!  Heck I bet they find someone that will fill in those hours and maybe more, so don’t worry about it.

  242. Aksivad says:

    Sorry you had to find out realities of life on planet Earth the hard way.   We would all like reality to be different. 
    I see that behavior at much higher frequency in the generations,  that when children, the stay at home mom ran them everywhere, no real discipline, blah, blah. 
    Not placing everyone in a stereotype.  Just an attitude of certain generations tends to be more common within that generation.
    Eventually (most) gain experience and knowledge.  Usually after reality kicks them in the butt.

  243. Cristian says:


    I am a 32 year-old white collar worker (biotech industry) and I have certainly had my share of partying when I was younger, but I find myself less interested in it these days. I’m still not married with kids, but it’s the age, as you say. However, I find that ever since I was 16 or so I was far more productive in the late mornings/afternoons, and ever since then found that the 9-11ish hours were completely useless to me. A lot of people are naturally more productive a good while after they’ve woken up (hormones, natural day/night cycle – I’m sure you’ve met them as well as I, and working in the field I can assure you there is nothing about us that needs medical attention). It’s simple biological variability and it’s just as insulting of you to say we all need to see a doctor as you’d say all blonde people should dye their hair because the majority have dark hair (or other types of discrimination).

    Rather, I think society should recognize that people are individuals, and treat them accordingly. That is, if it is to make the most out of its most precious resource, the human capital. 

    I’m sad to see that you refer back to how things were in the 1900’s. They still are so today in what we call the third world, or the worse-off parts of the developing world. I think very few people in the West would think we shouldn’t try to improve anything at home just because in some parts of Africa they live to be 50 at most, and in some parts of Asia they work 12 hours per day. Humanity has always looked forward and tried to improve its condition, and I think most of us understand that things were a lot worse in the past, but that’s not a reason to stop us from thinking what we can still improve now. 

    You’re right, what the author of this article is suggesting is mostly relevant to young and single people, not to those reaching middle age, with teenage children and house mortgages. I don’t think he’s suggesting giving up the usual 9-5 hours, nor do I think that will happen anytime soon. I think he understands that some people’s habits, preferences, or circumstances are better suited to that. He’s simply suggesting an alternative for those who prefer otherwise. If available, I would pick it, even though I’m a bit past his age group. The young workers, white- or blue-collar, constitute a significant part of the workforce, and we are simply turning off the dynamism and creativity that is typical of the younger, but less so of the more seasoned workers, if we force them to work to schedules best designed to suit the needs of the older folks. Think how productive you’d be if you had to be at work “on call” mostly in the afternoons. I think that is what many young, unattached young people would like, for reasons not only limited to partying and drinking, as you say, but even if they’re not into drinking, others such as most of their social life revolving around that of their (possibly drinking and partying) friends, or habit of a lack of rigid schedule (being fresh out of school), or simply lack of responsibilities such as children – aside from the purely biological reasons I mentioned above.

  244. Cristian says:

    LV, I like your point but just wanted to mention – according to Myers-Briggs, only 25% of the people are introverts, and the rest extraverts. I’m an introvert myself, but I certainly wouldn’t like to think that 25% is an insignificant amount.

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  246. I Think productivity in 8 hour job is not the same in every hour of job. In early hours it will be more but in the after noon it will decreases. Specially this happens with the people working in information technology kind of jobs.

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  248. PDfranks says:

    I’m an I/O Psychologist. I’ve owned multiple businesses with varying amounts of staff — from micro (just me) to 40 person staffs. 

    What you describe is not fit for every type of person. Though I do enjoy my time at home, I see home as a ‘relaxation’ place where I can be with my family. Though I have a nice office setup in my house, I prefer to sit in our living room on my laptop and work. I feel I get more done there.

    However, I ALWAYS get more done if I am with others who are working. I am much less likely to goof off or check Facebook randomly. When I’m at work, I work. When I get tired or distracted, I get up — walk around — take a break. Then when I’m ready, I sit back down & work on my todo list. When I’m home that is rarely the case. 

    Though I am certainly for the 80/20 rule @ work & I fully believe the best creativity comes out when it is not FORCED to come out…. (but rather sometimes @4cdcfa3d1d59f1f38be62ec98056ca26:disqus 
     1am while flipping youtube videos or in the dreams you have right before you wake up…) — I have to say that working from home suits some personalities better than others; even if your paycheck is based on projects completed with an A+.

  249. Anonymous says:

    That bias and prejudice against remote workers only exists in places and at levels where remote working isn’t the norm.    I work with a worldwide team and having an office in a cube farm would be pointless for me or any of my subordinates.     99% of our collaborative work is done over the phone, with screen and video sharing, during all hours of the day and night.    This would be next to impossible in a noisy open landscape area, especially one with no nighttime services.   

    The fact is that regardless of where you work you have to learn to make yourself visible and show yourself to be productive and revenue generating.   If you can do that under the most trying, most variable of circumstances, in time and place, you’ll move up faster.

  250. Anonymous says:

    That bias and prejudice against remote workers only exists in places and at levels where remote working isn’t the norm.    I work with a worldwide team and having an office in a cube farm would be pointless for me or any of my subordinates.     99% of our collaborative work is done over the phone, with screen and video sharing, during all hours of the day and night.    This would be next to impossible in a noisy open landscape area, especially one with no nighttime services.   

    The fact is that regardless of where you work you have to learn to make yourself visible and show yourself to be productive and revenue generating.   If you can do that under the most trying, most variable of circumstances, in time and place, you’ll move up faster.

  251. Anonymous says:

    If you’re in a job that measures by the tasks and hours, you are doing it wrong anyway.   Get paid by result.   Nail down requirements for a project, formulate a contract and deliver on it.     Period.  

    Tasks don’t produce revenue or savings.     A finished product does.  

  252. Anonymous says:

    If you’re in a job that measures by the tasks and hours, you are doing it wrong anyway.   Get paid by result.   Nail down requirements for a project, formulate a contract and deliver on it.     Period.  

    Tasks don’t produce revenue or savings.     A finished product does.  

  253. Justin Mazza says:

    I am with you here. The 9 to 5 lifestyle with the long commutes was never my thing. I have mental cycles and many times during the night (2to4 am) are my most creative hours.

  254. Rebecca byerline says:

     Exactly! I am currently writing an essay in my college composition class titled “Office Workers should request to go home”. My professor told me this is not an appropriate thesis because “what happens if they are not granted there wish; then the paper is useless”. OMG! It is already an inevitable situation. It is going to happen regardless. Furthermore, what great change was not preceded by famous persuasive literature, which called for the action before it took over . To say a thesis is not adequate because it does not bring about immediate change? I could go on about this all day.

  255. michael jones says:

    I have to say I’m very surprised by the idiots on here pushing for people to be paid for “productivity” not by the hr. 

    A boss paying you for work as they see fit is frankly insane and unfair.  There always seems to be a bizzare group of workers happy to throw their wages and rights down the toilet, simply out of a strong desire to brown nose and natural stupidity. Seems SLAVERY is back in fashion. 

  256. Muthukumar says:

    what is the reason for 8 hour working time a day?

  257. Jim Jones says:

     Actually that’s where you’re wrong.  Right now I’m on the East Coast working for an international company based out of Los Angeles.  I’m paid by the job, not by the hour and can communicate with my boss through Skype, email and simple phone calls.  We found that the remote work arrangements are perfect after he decided he was tired of the office gossip.  Now all the time wasted in commuting, gossip, lunch and those shitty meetings are done.  I work a solid 4-5 hours per day from home, get more accomplished than I ever did at a 9-5 job and the relationship between my coworkers and me is strictly professional.  There’s no harassment in the workplace because myself and the 37 other employees all work from home across the country.  I make the same amount I’d be making at an office job except I get to stay at home with my daughter.  Oh yeah and my boss works from home to and gets to saty home with his family as well.  Plus there’s no overhead for leasing office space either.  So you can keep your miserable life plan.  I have more important things to do.

  258. dmackey2 says:

    Heaven forbid you have to work more than 5 hours. Look at the Greeks. How’s their less than 6-hour work day working out for them?

  259. dmackey2 says:

    Heaven forbid you have to work more than 5 hours. Look at the Greeks. How’s their less than 6-hour work day working out for them?

  260. dmackey2 says:

    Heaven forbid you have to work more than 5 hours. Look at the Greeks. How’s their less than 6-hour work day working out for them?

  261. stariana says:

     If every Tom, Dick, and Harry started their own businesses, who would buy Dick and Harry’s products?  Tom’s product is the best, so no one wants Dick or Harry’s products.. I have a solution! Dick and Harry should work for Tom!

  262. Gabt75 says:

    “the ability of a factory worker to think analytically is irrelevant.”. What a pompous piece of shit thing to say. I hope this author rots his highfalutin ass off in cubicle hell for all eternity.

  263. Chimp1992 says:

    Are you guys hiring?!

  264. CMOE says:

    It’s a setup that should have been abolished years ago. Working for eight hours is no longer effective, since many people are able to complete their work and be productive within a much shorter period of time. Workdays only seem so stressful, busy, and packed because a lot of other details pop up to fill the hours.

  265. Bianca says:

     Hi Jim, I am not generally one to comment on wall posts but came across this and thought you spoke a huge amount of truth. I am currently employed but am looking for a job which aligns with my beliefs about a work place, on par with your own. I was hoping to find out what company you work for, and if it is a company in which I may be interested in applying for how I may do so. This may be too much to ask but it would be greatly appreciated. Many Thanks.

  266. Anagofranchising says:

    I just wanted to let you know about this awesome contest
    we’re currently running through Facebook. We’re asking everyone to submit
    photos of their messy desks, and have their friends vote for their submission.
    The person with the most votes will win a $250 Visa Gift Card and Anago will
    come clean their desk! It’s a great way to celebrate office culture, have some
    fun, and acknowledge that everyone’s desk gets a little messy occasionally. You
    can find the contest here at
    Thank you so much for your time, effort, and support. I hope you continue
    having a wonderful day.

  267. Anagofranchising says:

    I just wanted to let you know about this awesome contest
    we’re currently running through Facebook. We’re asking everyone to submit
    photos of their messy desks, and have their friends vote for their submission.
    The person with the most votes will win a $250 Visa Gift Card and Anago will
    come clean their desk! It’s a great way to celebrate office culture, have some
    fun, and acknowledge that everyone’s desk gets a little messy occasionally. You
    can find the contest here at
    Thank you so much for your time, effort, and support. I hope you continue
    having a wonderful day.

  268. Qqq says:

    you need to learn more about business

  269. Zack268 says:

    why the fuck would anyone want to be an office worker?

  270. Jeremiah say says:

    Yeah working in a 9 – 5 is definitely a smart choice 50 years ago but certainly not today. Why work hard when you can work smart? Why work hard when the government is printing so much money everyday? why work hard for others when you can work hard for yourself? 

    These are questions I constantly asked myself

  271. Nice ad hominem, there. The move from the 12-hour day to the 8-hour day was a battle. Even those supposedly benevolent child labor laws were pushed partially by people who just wanted to remove children as competition. This author was not arguing even that people should work fewer hours, but that the RHYTHM of the workday, developed for the assembly line, may be counterproductive given what is easily observed about human rest-work cycles.

  272. People’s need to interact supports the idea of telecommuting. One often-forgotten cost of office work and long commutes is that neighborhood relationships don’t get made or cultivated. Salaried employees don’t get paid only while at the computer, whether at work or at home.

  273. YeahRight says:

    What world do you live in? For one your argument only applies to hourly employees. Salary employees don’t get overtime. They get paid the same salary every period no matter how long they work or how well they produce results. If your argument if for hourly employees, such as contractors, then you must mean that the contractors boss is hovering over his shoulder making sure that he is filling out the time sheets correctly and is actually spending his time doing work during the time he posts on the time sheets. I would have to be very desperate to work for a company like that. From the two companies I worked in none of that was true. Also contractors are not encouraged to work more than 8 hours in my current company. How old are you?

  274. YeahRight says:

    You can’t prove it. How do you prove it if you go to the office? Unless it’s a very small office most people won’t notice if you’re not there unless they specifically look for you. Do you often get interrogated about your placement in the office at certain times and dates? I’m sure there are jobs that require office presents, but many IT fields do not. In fact if I come in tomorrow or not nobody will notice except the two people that sit next to me. My manager is in another country and we communicate by phone/IM/email/video. I still come into the office, but only because I’m required to and not because I need to prove it. I simply don’t want to risk my job in the rare case I do have people looking to talk to me. I come in between 9-9:30 there are people that come in at 10:30. Is that late? If it is then most people at least in the IT field that aren’t required to interact with people at 9am are late. My previous job I came in at about 10. If I come in at 9:30 and leave at 5 nobody notices or cares as long as I bring results since that’s my field is all about. Customers complain when there is lack of results and believe me during hot summer days of walking 20 minutes in 90+ degree weather will not make me give the best results.

  275. Robert Roseberry says:

    Great article – I personally have spent years working in an office and also as a remote employee and I can say that I was more creative and productive when I was able to work from home.

  276. Data Kencana says:

    To work from home is not a privilege anymore, it is a must.
    Worldwide business is changing. The more technology is developing the easier it
    becomes to work from home  and for
    yourself. No more nine to five. No more yes sir no sir. You are you own boss,go
    to the gym before breakfast, shower get into your comfortable clothes. Start
    your days work in your study overlooking your beautiful garden. Does this sound
    like daydreaming.  NOT ANY MORE! .
    Worldwide this is happening with ordinary people like you and me. You don’t
    need to be a Internet genius to be successful. Do you have a computer and
    Internet connection YES! Then e-marketing and e-business is for you. Just think
    about it, no more hours in traffic, no more people shouting at each other
    showing signshooting. This must sound unbelievable. Remember all the countries
    in the world are one click away. Don’t let distance and fear stand in your way
    BE FREE!

    Check out the links below this will put you well on
    your way of earning the carefree lifestyle that you deserve.

  277. Lynn says:

     Well Every Tom, Dick, and Harry don’t make the same products either….if I start a business selling scarves, I still need to eat, have a place to live, etc… I will be a customer for a TON of other areas that I do NOT specialize in. There is enough out there for everyone …You would be surprised.

  278. Fay says:

    Will you join my Revolution? lol I’m 23 myself and recently started working and I already feel it draining the creativity out of me and I have decided to start a revolution to change the 8 hour work-day to 5 hours! It can still be 9 to 5 but there HAS to be breaks in the middle during which employees can go out, take naps, etc. I think remote working is awesome too, but as u said, not applicable to all types of work, for eg. retail people. 

  279. Julie m says:

    this is probably my dream job. how can one get one of these jobs? or like Chimp1992 said, are you hiring?

  280. Julie m says:

    Exactly! Yet there are people who do like it, like my coworker who stays late every day. I really don’t understand it.

    I work in an office where I see maybe two or three people a day for actual work related things, and everyone else is a passing “hello, how are you?”, which in the end I might as well not see anybody. My workplace has mandatory unpaid breaks totalling 1.5 hours and it takes me on a good day 1 hour to get to work, on a bad day about 2 hours. SO my work day is 11.5 hours on a good day, yet they pay me peanuts.How can I argue that if I worked from home for 4 or 5 solid hours I would not only get the same amount of work done, if not more, but I would also stop hating my life, and make me even more productive because I won’t be worried everyday whether there will be an accident on my routes home that will delay me even more. By the time I get home I am mentally drained and physically unstimulated due to the fact that I’ve been sitting in front of a computer all day and stuck in a car for at least 2 hours each day.

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  283. Tb011798 says:

    It’s 2013 and my company just built 2 beautiful new buildings, cut our work at home days from 2 to 1 and they call themselves a leading IT shop. What a joke! They’re also putting us in suits!!! Wtf!

  284. Wishingstarr81 says:

    When can we push this idea forward? This article appears to be from 5 years ago, yet here I am stuck in a 7-4 salary position where sometimes all I do is surf the net because my work is done….

  285. josh says:

    We should avoid hourly pay stop trying to count how many hours we should be working a day. Its not about the amount of hours, its what you put into them. I know this cant be implemented for all careers but it actually makes us more productive.

    Also, I’ve always firmly believed in what Google has been doing for its employees…..NAPS. Every workplace should let employee take naps or just educate people on their benefits. They do wonders for long term productivity.

  286. Nikolay Perov says:

    Yep, It is true. The best productivity hours are morning hours.

    That’s why I am writing posts for my blog in the morning, before meal. Because it is the most difficult work for me, it consumes much of my mental resources.

    But in the evening I can do blog optimization, read other blogs or have some leisure time.

    I came to conclusion about morning productivity just recently. Before this I tried to write posts in the evening. It was a bad idea, i didn’t have much time and the writing was harder for me. Now it is much easier.

  287. Michael says:

    Well, if the global economic collapse eventually arrives (not the dress rehearsals we’ve had already), you may get your chance to work in the fields for a couple of hours a day after all. That’s assuming you aren’t killed and eaten by your fellow starving hordes in the meantime.

    Productivity has only gone up *because* we work all the time. The same technology that was supposed to “liberate us” has made us dull and lazy – if we were truly productive, 2-3 disciplined hours a day would suffice, but as evidenced by this article, it takes an investment of far more of our undisciplined hours to net those truly productive 2-3 hours.

  288. I completely agree with this. I also think you are correct in guessing our grandchildren won’t be working in the same kind of office environment as we are. Times are changing. In my last job, I was glued to my computer all day long, and it about made me go insane. A twenty minute power nap would have been so helpful to my productivity, but as that was not an option, I had to rely on coffee instead. At my current job, employees are encouraged to take walks throughout the day, which I think is a good start in increasing both job-contentment and productivity. I like your point about the appearance of productivity. It’s so true. Good employees know when they are most productive, and won’t take advantage of flexible hours. By making everyone work the same, unproductive hours, you are just encouraging people to look productive when they aren’t. If employers seriously care about results more than appearances, they need to start changing the way things have “always been”.

  289. Michael B Seattle, WA says:

    It’s sad that there is an open discussion on getting paid to wake up and go to work for someone else. Its the age of the entrepreneur, I mean what are you really working for anyway? Social Security, a bi-weekly paycheck, benefits? If you are you have not been informed where this world is turning. Here is a tip. Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,800 per day All the money is leaving the Economy, 1/3 of their money will be spent on Health and Wellness, Travel and the rest will go to their survivors. Position yourself where the money is going it’s not rocket science, that social security you are accruing right now will not be there in the years ahead. If you continue to work you will be working until you are 70 + no way around it. We were all programmed to win and conditioned to lose, the 40 40 plan is not the business. re-think your thinking, do you really want to be doing what you are doing right now forever and for someone else or is it time to use that creative brain you were blessed with and make your dreams come true. Everything starts with an idea, the majority of us are scared of risk. Without risk there is no reward. If work is for you, i wish you the best if its not than do something different gather your ideas and go for it.

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  294. AnonymousRex says:

    I agree with your initial point, but this article doesn’t support what you say it does. People have more than 2-3 hours per day of mental productivity by this own article’s admission. The problem stems from maintaining that productivity over an eight hour session. It works for manufacturing jobs because they require little focus and are not mentally tiring.

    To reframe things for you, a person is capable of working out twice a day. Routines like this have been used to great effect before, but you can’t just shove both of these routines together and expect the same level of effectiveness. You’re going into your second workout already tired. This is the rationale behind the article relating to focus and productivity.

    I also find that “2-3 hours” remark a bit sketchy by virtue of semantics. That “2-3 hours in the field” ignores all the other work these people had to do. They hand-made their clothes. They hand washed their clothes. They cooked their own meals about twice a day. They built fires for these meals. They didn’t work at the same thing all day, but they worked all day.

  295. Pingback: All work and no play: The impact of technology on work-life balance | The Claudia Files

  296. TunaFish says:

    This is how it should be really. Unfortunately the company I work at would rather see the employees compulsorily work for 9 hours with 20% productivity than 4 hours with 100% productivity. I can easily finish 9 hours worth of work within 3-4 hours if I concentrate hard enough but there’s no benefit to doing so as the hours in office are more important to my company, so I rather waste time here and there by gossiping away.

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