In the miraculous year of 2023 it is genuinely stupefying that we still tie ourselves to the idea of a fixed “work day”. Yes, you heard me right – those mind-numbing nine-to-five office jobs where “being on time” is considered a pillar of character. But folks, I must tell you, I’ve been pondering this, and I have a bit of a beef with this absurd notion.
Remember when we used to be hunters and gatherers? We’d go out there, spear a bison, pick a few berries, and head back home. That’s it. No one was keeping track of how many hours we worked. There was no punch-in card for clubbing a saber-toothed tiger, folks.
But fast forward to the information age, and we’re trapped in these concrete boxes, staring at screens, pushing keys on a keyboard, and we’re told that we’ve got to do it in an exact eight-hour shift. As if creativity and productivity could be switched on like a rusty old office light.
“Tardiness” is a term that’s thrown around as casually as dough in a pizzeria, but with far less delicious outcomes. It’s an archaic word, isn’t it? It brings to mind stern Victorian schoolmasters, not your weary-eyed supervisor giving you the stink-eye because the morning traffic was against you. And the punishment for tardiness? Well, you’d think you’d stolen the last doughnut from the break room with the amount of passive-aggressive sighing it invokes.
Then there’s “on time”, a phrase that’s lost all meaning in the realm of the office. “On time” is an elusive beast, a chimera that we’re all chasing but never quite catch. Is it when you log into your emails at 6am from your bed? Is it the moment you step through the office door? Or when you leave home for a brutal office commute? Or maybe it’s when you pour your first of seventeen cups of coffee for the day? And let’s not forget the divine comedy of being “on time” for a meeting that itself starts late. Oh, the sweet, sweet irony!
You see, the truth is that punching in on time doesn’t mean diddly-squat if you don’t deliver. You think because you clocked in at 8:59, that makes you a commendable employee? Nah. You know what that makes you? A good clock-watcher.
Let’s clear something up here: a job isn’t about taking attendance, and it sure as hell isn’t a ceremony to honor the religion of punctuality. It’s about getting things done. And here’s a little secret: tasks don’t care what time you start working on them.
It’s about productivity, folks. It’s about the magic that happens when your mind is churning ideas, solutions, and those shiny reports your boss adores. It’s about performance, not the ability to scamper through the office doors before the second hand completes its death march around the clock face.
Next up, we’ve got the infamous “9-5”, a phrase that’s etched into our collective consciousness as deeply as our hatred for Monday mornings. But let’s be honest: does anyone really work 9-5 anymore? Between early morning emails, late-night calls, and the delightful “working lunch” (now there’s an oxymoron for you), the “9-5” is as extinct as common sense in a corporate meeting. Why not 8 to 4? Maybe 10 to 6? 11 to 7? With the ungodly advent of flexi-time, nobody really knows anymore. And the reason nobody knows is because… drumroll please… it doesn’t really matter.
And speaking of meetings, let’s talk about “scheduling”. Ah, the art of squashing as much work as humanly possible into the few hours not already consumed by pointless meetings. It’s a ballet of logistics, a juggling act where you’re the balls being thrown around. And the best part? The meetings about scheduling. Because nothing says “efficient use of time” like discussing how to use time efficiently.
Lastly, we have the gem that is the “full work day”. Now, this one really tickles me. In an age where technology has us perpetually on, when exactly does a work day end? When you log off your computer? Or when you stop checking emails on your phone? Or perhaps when you’re lying awake at 2 am, mulling over that sales report? It’s a cosmic riddle, folks.
Because, let’s be real, forcing employees to watch the clock like a cat watches a laser pointer doesn’t increase productivity. It only makes us experts in clock-watching. So, let’s stop obsessing over time and start focusing on what really matters – getting the damn job done.
Now, here’s a thought: What if, and bear with me here, what if the purpose of work was to – wait for it – actually get stuff done? You know, instead of clock-watching and trying to figure out how early you can leave before the boss starts giving you the stink-eye. What if we judged people by their output rather than their punctuality? Wouldn’t that be something?
They say, “you gotta have discipline! You gotta have structure!” Alright, I get it. But let me tell you something. Some of the best minds in the world were noted for working on their own schedules. You think Da Vinci put down the brush on the Mona Lisa because it was five o’clock? Imagine if Shakespeare had to punch a clock. “Sorry, Bill, it’s 5 o’clock. Put down that quill. I don’t care if you’re about to reveal who Hamlet’s real father is!” Or what if Einstein had to conform to office hours? “Hey Al, quit pondering the mysteries of the universe. It’s time for your 15-minute mandatory lunch break!” My guess is we’d still be waiting for the theory of relativity.
Here’s the dirty secret, folks. Most of us aren’t operating in real-time anymore. We’re living in this swirling vortex of digital communication, where an email sent at 2 am might just be more effective than a memo handed out at the Monday morning meeting. The world has changed, but our work models are still stuck in the Industrial Revolution, faster than you can say “assembly line.”
This isn’t about being lazy or shirking responsibilities. It’s about harnessing human potential in the most effective way possible. And that means recognizing that the 9-to-5, clock-punching mentality isn’t always the best way to get things done. Hell, we’ve got people out there doing incredible work in their pajamas at 3 in the morning. They might not be “office on time”, but they sure as hell are effective.
So, my friends, let’s break these chains of the time clock. Let’s value people for the work they do, not the hours they keep. And let’s acknowledge that being “on time” for an office job is about as relevant as a typewriter in a world of iPads. Because if we want to get things done, maybe it’s time we started thinking a little more like those hunters and gatherers, and a little less like mindless drones. You see, it isn’t about how long you spend in the office, it’s about how much you get done.
Some might say I’m just a resentful late-comer trying to shake up the system. Just remember, next time you’re chastised for being 10 minutes late, you’re in good company. The world was never changed by people who arrived on time. It was changed by those who stayed late, arrived early, or just flat out ignored the clock, and instead, got the damn job done.
In an era where we can conduct multi-million dollar deals on a smartphone while lounging in our pajamas, it’s time to rethink the draconian obsession with “on time”. It’s time to focus on what really matters – getting the job done, and done well.
But hey, what do I know? It’s after my core writing hours, so I might be talking nonsense. Who knows, maybe I’ll reconsider at 9am sharp. Or maybe not.