What is it about 9 to 5 hours people actually like?

I’ve been looking for a job, and inevitably if the job is 9-5 M-F someone will describe it as “great hours”. 9-5 M-F is not “great hours”, it’s terrible hours. It means that throughout the entire period of the week where you can get stuff done, you can’t get stuff done because you’re at work. Any time-shifted hours that give you at least a smidgen of free time each week during the key hours are much better. Yet there’s this general felling that if you are going to work 40 hours a week, 9-5 M-F is the best possible hours, rather than amongst the worst.

For one thing, some jobs require a lot of overtime, so one thing people might like is the idea that the job is limited to forty hours a week. (And actually, in many cases, you can negotiate a shift, so that you’re working 7am-3pm or 10am-6pm instead.)

Posting the core hours of a job does not by any stretch mean that work is “limited” to those hours.

“First shift” is the most common core work schedule in America and, therefore, many leisure activities/events are planned for evenings and weekends when more people are off work and can attend. By working “off” hours (commonly 2nd or 3rd shift), you can get by the DMV or do your shopping when others are at work, but you are going to miss out on evening and weekend leisure activities with the masses. Some consider that fine, others see bar hopping on Tuesday at noon as a bit lonely. Or try to attend a popular concert or sporting event on a weekday morning. Not doable, nothing is scheduled.

TL/DR: work off shifts if you want to get “business” stuff done during the day, work first shift if you want access to vastly more leisure events and broader social life.

I think it’s a compromise between having to get up too early and having to get home too late.

That’s why they’re perfect hours to me. No weekends, unlike where I work now where I work every Saturday and Sunday. Eff that.

My take is the same as Dewey Finn’s. If someone tells me they’re working a 9-5 job, I dont take that as their literal start and end times. To me, it means, “I have a job with a set shift, and when the clock strikes the appointed hour, I’m done working.”

There are days I miss having such a job, myself. So to me, the “great” part is having a job where you can always plan your nights and weekends because you know exactly when you’ll be done working each day.

What do they like about it? That it’s better than 8-5, which is the norm in my industry.

You have to compare it to alternatives.

A lot of people work 9-5, then have to work from home. Lots of people work 12 hours a day 5-6 days a week.

Some people get called in on weekends or holidays all the time.

So a steady 9-5 with no overtime, no weekend work, etc. really isn’t bad.

Plus a lot of 9-5 jobs are in an office environment. That is nice compared to working in jobs that require a lot of standing and walking, or working in hot environments. An air conditioned office in an ergonomic chair is nice.

Plus a 9-5 offers a nice balance. It is late enough in the day that you can sleep in, but you get out early enough that you have your evening free. It is preferable (to most people) than a 6am-2pm, or a 2pm-10pm shift because in one of those you have to wake up really early, in the other you miss your entire evening.

Having said all that, I’ve worked various shifts over the years. And the best shift seems to be 10 hour days, 3-4 days a week. Everyone I’ve met who worked that preferred it.

On a 10 hour shift, your lunch hour is paid, and a 10 hour day is not much harder than an 8-9 hour day (whereas a 12 hour shift is harder than an 8-9). Plus since you’re only working 3-4 days a week, you have a ton of days off.

I think everyone I’ve met who worked 10s 3-4 days a week liked them. One shift a coworker liked to brag about (I never worked it) was 10 hours a day for 4 days in a row, then 4 days off. A different shift was working those other 4 days. So they were technically working 35 hours (not 40-45 like most full time jobs) a week but it felt like part time according to them due to all the free days.

That’s the thing. Working every Saturday and Sunday, (assuming you get for example Wednesday and Thursday off) is so much better than working Monday-Friday that I hardly understand people complaining about it. It means you get 2 full days every week during the part of the week where you can get stuff done.

BTW, one thing that annoys me about regular, 9-5 work schedules is that everyone seems to take lunch at noon. So if you go to a restaurant or fast food place at noon, it’s going to be really crowded. But if you go just a little earlier or a little later, you’ll find much shorter lines. And it seems silly to wait until noon. Few of us still work in a place like a factory where the lunch time is fixed for everyone. In most offices I’ve worked at, no one cares if you take an early or a late lunch. So why waste it standing in line?

For me it was being on the same basic schedule as the majority of people I was friends with. Made my social life that much easier.

Yeah. I chose to work 7-3:30. Those are great hours. I take lunch around 11.

In winter, I get home with a tiny bit of light left. Yes I go to bed by 9, and get up at 5 but that’s fine with me.

Literally 9-5 would suck IMHO.

hey 9-5s are stupid but no more stupid than anything else. I’ve worked second shift for like two years and it blows just as bad. On the one hand, there’s never any traffic, I never have to take time off to go to an appointment or the dmv. But then normal people can just swing by the grocery store after work and pick up food. Everything’s closed when I get off so I have to eat a gas station burrito if I don’t plan ahead.

Also I miss the sun. Yeah I could get up six hours early and do my chores, exercise, whatever in the daylight but it doesn’t feel natural. People usually don’t wake up six hours early for work.

The worst is that I went to work while the kids were at school and got home after they were asleep. No social life either.

There’s like three shifts people work. There should be like twelve staggered throughout the day. Why don’t some people start at 10, some at 11, etc?

The world assumes people work roughly those hours, and is set up for it.

I’ve worked every combination from 72 hour sleep in shifts with 9 days off to 12 hour overnights, 10pm starts, 2am starts… All have disadvantages (the 72 hour one was pretty good, half the month’s work done in one weekend, but I’d sleep for a day when I got home).

I did nights for one summer, and trying to work out things like going to the doctor, buying things (food was OK, there’s enough 24hr supermarkets, but getting prescriptions or clothing meant proper planning) ever seeing friends, and the absolute biggie, sleeping, was made far more complicated. Yes, it meant avoiding the terrible commuter traffic, but it also meant going to bed in the middle of the morning, when everyone else was getting up. Not fun.

Even just working Sundays when the neighbours are 9-5 working party people was a pain, a significant number of people consider 9-5 Mon-Fri to be not just regular working hours, but the only working hours. I once had neighbours who, when complained to about the noise at 4am on a Saturday, replied ‘Just sleep in! It’s Sunday tomorrow!’ and actually refused to believe that I hadn’t messed up my timetable, because of course I was off tomorrow, it was Sunday! :smack: They were pretty drunk, but still…

My suspicion is that 9-5 is really a historical holdover from the days when natural lighting was the primary source of illumination- even in places like Western Europe during the winter, 9-5 is typically relatively well-lit.

That said, I think one of its main charms is that it coincides well with a number of other things. School overlaps somewhat well with it for example, lessening the need for child-care among parents. Another consideration is that it only typically overlaps the mid day meal, leaving the others to eat at home with family if that’s what people want. It also doesn’t require people to wake up too early either. And finally, it tends to get the workday done with a fairly large single chunk leftover for personal/family time.

Most alternate schedules wouldn’t actually accomplish all those things at once nearly as well. That said, I’ve often wondered about a sort of tripartite day where you’d work say… 7-10 from home, then say… 12-3 in the office and then maybe 6-8 from home or something along those lines. That would give people time to take care of school-aged kids, have longer mid-day and afternoon breaks to get stuff done, and still not end the day too terribly late. Of course, the main drawback would be that your day would start earlier, and you’d still have to commute for a shorter period of actual work.

If you have kids, 9-5 is great. All of their activities are in the evenings after school, so you never miss ball games or dance recitals. If you bump your starting hour too early, then you are in bed before them and if you start too late, they barely get to see you after school.

It’s also great hours because they aren’t forcing you to take a random hour in the middle of the day for lunch. A straight 8 hours is awesome. As someone earlier said, 8-5 is the norm with an hour lunch if you’re on a 40 hour week. Of course, most people just work through while eating lunch at their desk and give the company a free hour.

I work 7:30-3:30 and take my lunch at around 1:15 or 1:30. Stuff isn’t crowded and, once I get back, it’s just an hour before it’s time to go home.

However, this does sort of fit into a standard work shift “benefit” – most other people are working those same hours (at least in an office setting). Depending on your job, it can be much easier to set up meetings, make phones calls, etc if you’re working the same hours as the rest of the professional white collar world.

I work 4 days on, 4 days off. 9-5 can suck it.

“Great hours” means “working time on the job” not “time you get to NOT work in this job”.

I think the presumption here is that actually working 9-5 in an office job is a very rare luxury these days for full-time salaried employment (not punch-card hourly billing type roles), perhaps limited to government jobs.

If you’re thinking of “great hours” as in “I get to do stuff outside of work during the day”, that’s called “flex time” or something. Which usually means you’re working far more than 40 hours a week in reality.

9 to 5 is a lot better than the dawn to dusk or 12 hour shifts six days a week that preceded it. It’s the result of many hard and long fights by workers and some enlightened employers. Value it and defend it.