The Unheard Benefits of Working 9–5
What I love about working 9–5 and why it can be a good option for you too
Many Millenials and Gen Z hate 9–5 jobs. They say it’s selling your soul to big, nasty corporations. They say they have a personality unlike everyone else; they’re hipsters. Rejecting 9–5 jobs almost makes you cool and rebellious.
I was once one of these people. One of the first books I read as a university student was Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek where the subtitle is “Escape 9–5, live anywhere, and join the new rich”. Amusing and seductive, I was indoctrinated into believing this was the most important way to live. In the book, Tim explains how someone can live as a digital nomad; one of the tips is to earn in US dollars online and spend in a less valuable currency like Mexican pesos. You can make money and travel at the same time: you’re responsible for your own existence like an adult, but you’re also having fun like a child; best of both worlds.
Then there are people like Gary Vee, who tells everyone to hustle. Hustle, hustle, hustle. Chase your dreams. Build your empire. Live your ambitions. This kind of advice is everywhere. These entrepreneurs make their journey to success sound like a brilliant myth; struggling against their friends and parents, suffering from their own ambition, and rising in spite of everything else against them.
I still love Tim Ferriss and Gary Vee; it feels unfair I called them out, but they’re who came to mind because they had an influence on me.
As I went on my own journey, I decided to try 9–5 anyway. I‘d never tried it and it was an easy option. I discovered something I didn’t expect; it’s almost taboo to say, but I love my 9–5 job.
There are benefits to a 9–5 job people don’t often talk about.
You have less responsibility
People often say that working for someone else is building someone else’s dream; other people have said it’s like living for someone else. Whatever the message is, the idea is that you’re not living for yourself.
While you’re working for someone else’s dream, you’re getting paid. You’re also probably learning, making friends, having fun, and everything else you get from working with a lot of other people.
We often like to think the people at the top have the freedom to do whatever they want. We imagine them to sit in their comfortable chairs and smoke cigars, but they’re really in a position of overwhelming responsibility; they’re responsible for the business, and if they own shares, the business is responsible for their wealth.
As a salaried employee, you take no risk. You get paid whether the business succeeds or fails. If the business fails, nothing happens to you except you might have to find another job, but shareholders suffer emotional and financial losses; they take a hit to their ego and a hit to their bank account.
When you lack authority, people don’t ask you difficult questions. You don’t have to make the decisions that’ll change the lives of possibly billions of people. Every time Mark Zuckerberg makes a decision, it impacts the 2.7 billion people who use Facebook. Being an employee means you don’t have to worry about any of that.
I’ve been in a fortunate position to have never worried about work. I love my job and I’m a conscientious worker with the 8 hours I have every day, but I’m not forced to work until veins are popping out of my head. There’ve been times I’ve become attached to the project and really want it to succeed, but if I were honest, I wouldn’t lose sleep if it failed.
I can’t imagine entrepreneurs having the luxury of relaxation.
Companies usually treat you well
I can’t speak for every corporate experience. I’m sure there are companies that treat their employees terribly. Those companies won’t survive. Companies don’t just compete for talent with money, but also with their environment.
I work at a tech company that isn’t even FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) and the perks are already amazing. I love the food, snacks, values, culture, friends, diversity, teamwork, money, autonomy, flexibility, mission, workplace activities, transparency, dedication to our customers, empowerment of employees, empathy, openness of leaders, standing desks, care for the environment, laptops, tools, clean bathrooms, company events, development opportunities…
The ultimate goal of a company (at least a for-profit public company) is to make money for its shareholders, but to achieve that goal, they have to focus on culture. A good culture not only increases employee productivity but decreases employee exit. Employee exit is expensive; to hire a new person, you pay someone to look at resumes, set up interviews, interview people, make a decision on who to hire, integrate them with a new team, onboard them, etc.
Keeping you happy aligns with your company’s main goal of increasing profits — a win-win situation. My company treats its employees well. I’m actually worried about how I’m ever going to find a place better; they’ve put golden handcuffs on me.
I wrote this to paint the perspective of someone whose happy working 9–5. Still, there are things you won’t get from working 9–5 that being an entrepreneur will give you.
While you gain stability, you lose a dream: you’ll have stable money, but you won’t have hope to reach incredible amounts of wealth. When you’re not emotionally attached to the business, you won’t care if it fails, but you also won’t care if it succeeds: you won’t get the rush of endorphins an entrepreneur feels when their baby grows. With great power comes great responsibility, but a lack of responsibility is also a lack of power: you won’t be able to shape the world in your own image.
There are benefits to both being an employee and employer. Which one you want to be is up to you.