What’s a 9 to 5? Working Flexible Hours

Honestly, this was a question I posed to a client when they thanked me for doing some work over the weekend to help them meet deadlines. With the rise of the internet age along with globalisation, the world has become a 24/7 hub where businesses following outdated models are struggling against those that can offer flexibility.

The rules of traditional work hours are being thrown out the window. This revolution has been led by those who “disrupt” the norm, who challenge the system, and who demand more freedom.

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It’s nice not being chained to a desk all day

Photography by Dylan Hornsby, January 2018

Obviously, working for yourself makes it very easy to choose your own hours and work around your own life. Nevertheless, as a freelancing videographer I’m constantly working on the schedules of multiple clients at once. So why start work at 9 when you know you won’t get feedback until after midday? That sounds like 3 hours checking emails and reading articles that I could do from the laptop at my home… plus peak hour in the morning is not that fun.

This has translated across to my teaching as well. By allowing myself to be accessible beyond traditional hours and geography, my students are able to contact me with any quires that may have or even tweet to their peers using the hashtag to find help. No longer is there a need for students or myself to organise a time to sit down on campus to have discussions or wait until the morning for a response.

This changes the experience of university drastically according to the feedback from students. It allows for them to find flexibility in their own busy lives to study. Moreover it gives them a personalised experience that helps them to remain engaged in the unit and right now there is a crisis of engagement in the classroom – maybe I’ll save this discussion for a later time.

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Weekend by marc falardeau (CC BY 2.0)

“But I want my weekends” I hear you say – well you can still have them but they may just not be a Saturday or a Sunday but rather a Wednesday and Thursday with a half day on a Tuesday and if you want you can still make it to the BBQ on Saturday. The flexibility is in your hands. With a bit of time management you can juggle your work and social lives.

Is this style of working for everyone? No. It requires you to be internally motivated and for you to burn your own fire. It requires you to relinquish the discipline that prior learning and cultural norms have instilled. It requires you not to be a machine but rather do your own thinking and make your own decisions.

The danger behind all this is when work bleeds into your personal life but I think that comes with anything that we are passionate about and at that point it doesn’t feel like work – it feels like a dream. A dream where you are getting paid to do the thing you love.

  1. A really terrific post here – powerful ending, but the passage I liked even more was ‘This revolution has been led by those who “disrupt” the norm, who challenge the system, and who demand more freedom.’ I think this is spot on – I’ve been saying for years that ‘Innovation always comes for free’, particularly when working in industries struggling to keep up with the radical changes you’re talking about. Maybe I was lucky to ‘lose’ the notion of a non-working weekend when I worked in retail throughout my undergrad years, but clinging to the 9-5 is a privilege few can afford to do (and certainly not in the media industries). As you highlight, extra flexibility and freedom is liberating, not restricting, and that’s part of their definition anyway!! Inspiring stuff – thanks!

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  2. Thanks so much for this post, Dylan! It was such an excellent read, I really like the point you’re making about the ability to subvert the typical ways we’re expected to “work”. Realistically, more people need to think like this to keep up with the flexible nature of work today. But I do agree with you that this style of work isn’t for everyone, as it does require, as you say, “you to be internally motivated and for you to burn your own fire. It requires you to relinquish the discipline that prior learning and cultural norms have instilled. It requires you not to be a machine but rather do your own thinking and make your own decisions” – Awesome stuff 🙂

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