Working a 9–5 gets a bad rep. I’ve read a lot recently about the upside of quitting, how you should pursue your dreams, you shouldn’t live a life of unhappiness.
By working a 9–5 you are subscribing to a monotonous, plain life.
The words ‘9–5 desk job’ is normally followed by the words ‘miserable, unhappy, boring and unfulfilled.’ It’s as if working for a corporate or place of work that wasn’t crafted by your own fair hands equals being a sell-out. As if there is no happiness to be found working a desk job and that if you do then you subscribe to the rat-race mentality which will never lead to freedom.
I have a 9–5 ‘cubicle job’ and I wanted to explore the benefits of it for those that feel pressured into quitting because you’re not pursuing your lives passion. You can be passionate about your 9–5. That’s allowed too.
1. Steady Pay
Now, the one thing you can rely on in a 9–5 is that if you show up, do a decent job you’ll get your paycheque. Every month, the same date. That level of consistency and reliability is a very good thing, especially when you’ve got outgoings. Don’t get me wrong, you can make much more money in a business of your own but you can also make much less. In a 9–5 the money is generally capped so you the more money you make for somebody else, doesn’t necessarily coincide with you getting more. However, equally, if the company loses more, you won’t lose 12% of your paycheque.
The consistency is a nice thing. Like a little comfort blanket.
2. Set Hours
I used to hate the idea of routine. I thought it made life totally boring and sucked the fun out of everything, however, as I’ve hit my mid-twenties I find myself loving routine more and more. Having to only show up for a certain amount of hours is great. It’s a good thing because it means you can organise your life around something fairly consistent. It’s safe. You probably won’t have to work weekends, you probably won’t be working too late. Unlike if you are working for yourself, at least initially.
3. Takes the Pressure Off
If you make a huge mistake it’s on somebody else’s time. Now, that doesn’t mean you should go around purposefully making mistakes. You should of course try your very best but if you happen to make a mistake it doesn’t mean you’ll lose a client that was your sole source of income. You can make mistakes and it’s fine. If this was your own gig, you could make one mistake that would lead to bankruptcy and that’s scary.
4. Get Paid for Practicing
Especially in the early stages of your career, you are getting paid to practice your soft skills. When you are new to work everything is a challenge. Phone calls are daunting, you read emails 14 times before sending them and you hesitate to get up for coffee because you’re not sure you're allowed to. When you work for someone else you can practice your soft skills unapologetically. You can switch up your approach, test new conversation starters and invent new ways of getting your point across. All with the reassurance that as long as you don’t do something catastrophically wrong, you’ll still get paid. That isn’t necessarily the case if you work for yourself. If you piss someone off you might lose the client that is 70% of your income. If you come across as unconfident and underwhelming people might think about taking their business elsewhere and that will hurt you financially.
5. Learn How the ‘Big Dogs’ Do It
Big companies attract a lot of talent. Consequently, you will be working with people that are good at what they do. Whether it be good project managers, good presenters, good facilitators. In big companies, there are more people and thus more people to learn from. You can learn what good looks like and what tools and techniques that work. This is great learning for you if you have plans of going into something of your own one day. Think of it as schooling for how to go to work. Things you could learn:
- What does someone good at communicating look like?
- How do they start a conversation?
- What techniques are they using to influence people?
- The makings of a good meeting
- How to build relationships
- How to manage stakeholders
All of these soft skills are transferable and will look incredibly good to prospective clients.
Often you will find that in larger companies the people at the top are keen on mentorship. They want to help the younger generation find their feet and teach them their skills. This passing of the torch usually happens because there is a sense of comrade between employees of the same company. Senior people often feel it’s their duty to give back to the place that has given them a lot in their lives. So, they feel it’s the right thing to provide some nurturing. This is hugely beneficial to anyone on the receiving end of the nurturing. You are getting mentorship from someone who is maybe in the top 50/60 people in a big company. They haven’t got there by chance.
There is a lot to learn from these folks.
7. Less Responsibility
Working your own business may very well mean that you don’t only provide income for yourself, you provide it for other people as well. That means the lights don’t only need to stay on for yourself, you have other people’s livelihoods in your hands. The extreme of this is the likes of Mark Zuckerburg who makes decisions that could affect 48,268 people (the current amount of people that work there). Imagine impacting that many people directly. Indirectly of course he impacts 2.7 billion. On the less end, you might have a few people that work for you. It’s still a huge responsibility to provide for that many people. You are where the buck stops.
In a 9–5 that is not the case. You turn up, do your job and go home. Depending on your level of course but in the main you are just a number. Which, whilst that might be a little lifeless on the one hand, it’s also risk-averse and comforting on the other.
8. Sick Leave
Working for yourself means that you need to turn up to get paid. Again depending on the job but if you don’t put the time in you won’t get paid. You won’t get paid and that can seriously impact your life. As an employee though, you get paid sick leave. It means if you wake up on Tuesday and have a banging headache, you can get back in bed and go to sleep. If you are self-employed and are for example a plumber, you can’t just get back into bed.
You need to show up to get paid.
9. Annual Leave
Again on the ‘leave’ front, you get between 25–35 days to do with whatever you please. You’ll still get paid regardless but you can enjoy your days work free with the knowledge that even though you’re not at work, you’re still getting paid. Similar to number 8, that isn’t the case if you work for yourself. You are not going to get paid for going on holiday.
From free coffee to a decent pension. Companies usually treat their employees fairly well and the benefits package is usually quite good. You can feel safe that your pension is being taken care of. In a company of one, you’re paying for the coffee. You need to figure out the whole pension thing and taxes and eurgh accounting stuff.
You turn up to work every single day and meet the same people. You’ve got office comrade and you feel a sense of belonging like this is the place where your workmates are. When you work for yourself you might be working from home or working from a coffee shop and you might not work with as many people so it’s easy to feel a little isolated. The benefit of working for a bigger company is that you have a lot of workmates.
12. Segregating Time
The way I see it, you have 40 hours a week working, typically over 5 days. We all want to believe that one day we’ll go down to 4 day weeks but we probably won’t any time soon so I think it’s fair to say the average workweek is Mon-Fri. The benefit of this is that your time is very structured. It means that you have guaranteed blocks of time that you need to dedicate to work. That then means you can optimise your time outside of work. I think it makes you a lot more organised if you’ve got to work around a block of time that is non- negotiable. That means you can free up evenings to do hobbies, workouts or whatever.
When you work anywhere, the natural thing is to think about what’s next. Looking upwards is something we all do. Normally in a big company, there is a clear progression of where to go and what you need to do. You might need to talk to a few folks to understand how it works but the general rule of thumb is you can progress if you want to. It can be quite stimulating to have the progression of management, more pay, bigger benefits. We all are probably slightly ambitious and wonder what it’s like to be the director of a big firm. I think the good thing about working 9–5 is that you can progress and it’s a fairly clear structure of how to get there. You can climb the ladder if you want, which is a sure-fire way to get more financial success.
Lastly, I think the benefit of 9–5 work is that it gives you variety. It means you can take up hobbies, side hustles or whatever in your downtime but you still have work to fall back on. I write in my spare time and find that having worked alongside writing helps me. It gives me variety in my days and I find it quite enjoyable to do them both. I get the feeling that if you’re doing your own thing all day it could become a little boring.
Look I’m not saying working 9–5 is the best option for everyone. For some people, they need to work for themselves because they feel unsettled in the corporate world. For others, their hopes and dreams of becoming a small business owner are so overwhelming that they have to try it.
And I get it. I’m someone who works 9–5 but loves the idea of working for myself. The taste of freedom, steering the ship, oh the prospect is so inviting. However, I think there are lots of ups and downs to both. The 9–5 isn’t selling your soul. It could be a way for you to save up money until you are ready to work for yourself. It could be a way for you to learn on the job to take those skills elsewhere.
It all comes down to the story we tell ourselves about what we are doing. You might feel like you are selling your soul but are you? Are you really? Or are you just working a job, that you kind of like, that you are getting paid well for it?
If that’s the case, stop worrying about it.
That a fine reason to be where you are. You can see this as your first step in a huge journey to figuring out what you want to do with your life.
Added to the fact that working 9–5 equates to maybe 40 hours a week. That means you’ve got about 40 more hours per week to work on whatever you want to ‘actually’ do. Use those hours outside of work to work on your side hustle. It will take you a good while to get that off the ground anyway and why wouldn’t you want a steady paycheque in the meantime?
9–5 cubicle work gets a bad wrap and there are loads of upsides to it you can, contrary to popular belief, enjoy your 9–5.