Working 9 to 5…

It’s hard to read the title of this blog and not hear the perky little tune that shares its name. The annoying thing is that you won’t be able to shift it – sorry about that! When starting a new job, there is always a little apprehension as to the hours you should work. Many companies say 9-5, but is that really what they mean?


Most companies have moved away from the system of clocking or punching in and out of work.

The bleeping or clunking sound of clocking in is quite a demoralising one and when you are forced to do this, the minutes count.  I have worked in a supermarket where people queue by the clocking in machine to register the end of their day – waiting for the number to change to the hour to avoid being docked 15 minutes pay.  This is depressing, but it ensures that people aren’t leaving early.

In a graduate job, your responsibilities lie deeper than merely being present or filling a seat at a checkout. 

You will be required to work until the job is done – particularly if you are salaried and on a trial or fixed-term contract.  Employers want to see results and want to see you working, which means filling your chair during the hours of business.  But what more does this mean?

In today’s society, it is expected that you’re accessible most of the time.

I don’t necessarily agree that you should, but people carry communication devices with them wherever they go.  A few times, I’ve been out with friends when one of them gets an email halfway through the third pint and they have to leave to do some work or to call the office.  We work in global companies, where it will always be 9-5 somewhere.  The question is therefore – what is expected of me in my role?  How much of your free time should you give to your employer?  The answer is a personal one, and something that you as an individual will need to get to grips with and fast.  If you don’t manage this process, you will end up alone or burnt out.

Here are some tips that might help;

  • Set parameters for yourself – what will you and wont you do?  Spend some time thinking about what is important to you.
  • Accept work in a managed way – give yourself longer deadlines than you need and sometimes deliver early.
  • If you respond to emails at home, make sure that you only do what is essential. Do so at a set time and for a limited period.
  • Give yourself at least one day per week that is work free.
  • Turn your phone off at night.
  • Make sure you take your annual leave and that it is used as a time to switch off.

Some industries will work you longer and harder than others, offering incentives to push you harder.

Sometimes you need to step back and look at how the drive to get bonuses is impacting on the rest of your life.  As for new starters – look around the office, work out what other people’s working patterns are.  You shouldn’t necessarily emulate them, but it is a good starting point in understanding the culture of the business.  How you fit into that is down to you.


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