Corporate Blog

Eight Is Enough

Is the traditional 9 to 5 work day back in style? Carl Camardo, Talent Development Manager for Superior Group, reflects on the new work day–does it need to be longer? Or just more efficient?

As I write this article, I’m reminded of the film Jerry Maguire.  The part where Jerry writes a pamphlet calling for fewer clients, not wanting to go after the big fish, and actually gets the character fired from his position.  I write this, not to upset my senior management, but to remind everyone of the truly important aspects of our lives.

Some say the 9 to 5 regular work day is dead.  As an HR professional I can accept when a model is outdated. However, what does constitute the new work day?  Do we come in early or stay late to get work done?  To impress our boss? At a previous job, it was common for me to return to work some nights after dinner.  One night, I returned to find my VP there as well and envisioned how impressed he would be with my dedicated presence.  He approached me, asking, “What are you doing here at this time?”  I told him that there were just some things I needed to finish up.  My expected response of “Great job” was not the response I received.  Instead, he asked why I could not get my work done during normal work hours, assuming it was a time management issue.  As I thought of how to respond, he ushered me to his office, opened a time management presentation and proceeded to email it to me.

We must put forth our greatest effort to get the job duties done during the work day.  Eight to eight and a half hours a day is a very long time.  There is nothing else we typically spend that many hours of the day on.  We don’t sleep over eight hours a day and we certainly don’t relax, spend time with family and friends, or take part in a hobby for that long a time.

Companies such as PepsiCo are encouraging employees to leave the work day comfortably.  This means not having to sneak out or feeling guilty for leaving at the end of each day.  For example, if you occasionally leave at four to pick up your daughter, make sure to notify the people in your surrounding workspace.  If it’s okay with your boss, it should be okay with co-workers.

If we have reached that level of professionalism in business, we should be mature with the new rules and not abuse them.  Don’t take advantage of the freedoms we now have in the workplace.  If you leave early or come in late, make sure it’s not every day.  Don’t make a pattern of it, especially if it relates to fantastic weather conditions or around holidays.  If everyone behaves in a mature and friendly manner, productivity is maintained.  You need to trust co-workers and earn their trust as well.

Flexible work day arrangements can go hand in hand with success.  If we achieve our goals during the eight hours, we can avoid after-hours work emails and phone calls. We shouldn’t need to dread hearing our phones ring once we are home.  Senior management respects the fact that people have lives outside of work.

I know people who do this successfully each and every day.  Many people work a full day, but still find time to coach their kids’ sports teams or attend school events.

Life needs a healthy mix of work and home. There is no real secret to productivity.  You have goals to accomplish each day – strive to accomplish these within 8 hours utilizing the right effort and attitude.  Too many life experiences are often missed or regretted. Days, weeks, months, and years go by quickly so try to enjoy your entire life, not just your work life.  As the saying goes: “Work to live, don’t live to work.”