The Torture of 9-5 Work and How To End It

The Torture of 9-5 Work and How To End It

In case you missed it, Oxford academic and sleep researcher Dr. Paul Kelley says that 9-5 work shifts  pose a “serious threat” to employee health. He likened this sort of schedule to “torture”, saying that it is out of sync with our natural circadian rhythms and has an adverse effect on our health, mood and of course, productivity.

2015-09-11 07.08.07Over the past couple of years, I have been waking up naturally, often with the sunrise. Through the summer, I rise quite early, and I find I get up a little later in the winter months, occasionally setting a “just in case” alarm if I have an early morning meeting. During the work day, I take breaks every 90 minutes or so, I eat when I feel hungry, and in the evening, I go to sleep when I feel tired. Having my own business affords me this luxury, and the benefits are amazing.

Since I’ve been managing my schedule naturally, I haven’t gotten sick at all – not even a tickle in my throat other than that caused by seasonal allergies. I get my work done and feel productive. Taking breaks throughout the day helps me to keep my energy up so I don’t feel exhausted by 7 pm as I used to. I often watch the sun rise and set and spend more time outdoors when I need a boost. I feel less stressed and more happy. For me, “Every day feels like Saturday™” and it’s awesome.

As Dr. Kelley has said, “everybody is suffering and they don’t have to”.

The problem in the work world is that we manage work by the time we spend at it. It is the year 2015 and we’re still thinking that everyone must be in their seat at work from 9-5 or else we won’t know that they’re working so they must not be. We force people to set alarms for ungodly hours, to race (crawl) to work in rush hour traffic, and to try to squeeze their life into the few hours of exhaustion between the time they get home and when they go to sleep. It just doesn’t make sense, especially in a world where technology affords many of us the ability to get work done faster, at different times, anywhere.

My suggestion for ending the torture of 9-5? Reinvent Work.

In the Blueprint for Workplace Reinvention, we outline 7 principles and competencies that build Trust and Agility. By developing this sort of high performance culture, you create a perfect balance of autonomy, accountability and innovation and results in your organization.

There are several organizations who are reinventing work and creating less sleep deprivation, more happiness, and better results. ATB Financial and Mabel’s Labels are two Canadian companies who have chosen to “go ROWE™”, changing the relationship between managers and employees to one that is focused on getting work done, not on time spent at work. Zappos has made several headlines by becoming a “holacratic” organization, operating in “circles” rather than a hierarchy (check out this cool GIF of how one company, Blinkist, developed roles through holacracy). For years, tomato processing leader Morningstar has operated as a self managed organization, with no bosses. At the recent Reinvent Work Summit in Toronto, I invited the creators of ROWE, Holacracy and Self Management to share the principles of these methods of workplace reinvention with us. You can watch the discussion below.

Ending the torture of working 9-5 is not just for entrepreneurs. It’s for the corporate environment too. Seriously – give it some thought after you hit the snooze button tomorrow morning. And if you’re interested in reinventing work, contact me. I can help (I’m the only certified ROWE™ consultant in Canada)!

CultureRx® is the owner of the Results-Only Work Environment™ and ROWE™ trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property which identify the innovative management methodology. 


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