Thursday, 26 September 2019
In Spain, the custom has long been to work mornings and nap in the afternoon, with leisure time in the evening. In France, it’s become illegal for employers to contact employees outside of contractual working hours. Is the 9-5 format becoming outdated?
According to the ONS, 50% of the UK workforce is expected to be working from home by 2020 (source). With more and more HR software available to check productivity from a distance, flexible workplaces don’t seem so out of reach anymore. What are the pros and cons of working for a company that lets you pick your hours versus a conventional workplace?
First of all, everything depends on your specific employer and whether they value employee well-being and satisfaction, regardless of the type of workplace. If your contract says 9-5 but you work in a small, rural company with an easygoing manager, the likelihood is that you can have the work-life balance that you want. You could also work for a flexible, hip, techy start-up with an odious manager and end up working unbelievably long weeks and be asked to submit work during your time off. You won’t know that from the job description.
If what you want to do is work from home, you should definitely discuss this with your manager from the get-go - when negotiating your contract, ideally. If you dislike the idea of 9 to 5, you could seek a job on a consultancy basis and discuss that when negotiating your contract, too.
If you do end up in a situation where your work is taking over your life and you don’t know how to push it back out, start by making sure that you don’t use the same email address for work as you do for your personal business. By simply not opening that mailbox unless you’re actively working, you can avoid getting sucked into overtime. Same with calls and texts - if you can afford to buy a mobile phone that you use exclusively for work, do it. A second hand mobile or a cheap pay-as-you-go plan works fine. This will definitely help you separate your professional life from your personal life. If someone tries to probe you about it, tell them you don’t check your phone or emails on the weekend or after work.
Of course, the most widely known options are to become a freelance worker, or to launch your own business. But although this may seem like a great option, and it probably is if you just can’t find your fit in the world of employment, it may not provide you with a great work-life balance at first. Launching your own business takes hard work and dedication, and most people put in long hours for as long as it gets to become successful.
Our advice here at newtongrads is to start off by finding out what career would really fulfil you best - then you can work on finding the perfect workplace. Finding that career requires experience and training, such as graduate schemes - why not start there?