management by matrices

a fresh perspective on management.

The myth of a 9 to 5 job

As people go higher and higher up in an organizational hierarchy, they actually have lesser and lesser to do. In a company that sells a product or service, it is the frontline sales team that actually has a REAL 9 to 5 (or 9 to 9 in certain companies) job. This is because the time they spend on the job directly influences the business they get. Heads of business units and senior managers rarely actually go out to the market place and source business. This means that the time they spend on their jobs has no direct correlation with the success of their organizations. Most of their day is spent on man management, data analysis and decision making.

All of these activities do not consume much time. After all how much people management would you need when the year end bonus of your employee depends on his performance, apart from the threat of losing one’s job. Data analysis is also not a time consuming activity. It is after all the poor MIS guy who has to prepare and present the reports in an easily understandable format. Decision making may be time consuming, but certainly not a full day job!! And then there is this magical word called ‘delegation’. Its no wonder that business heads typically spend their days in ‘review meetings’ and ‘feedback sessions’.

With this being the case, companies must consider changing the ‘official’ working hours as you go higher and higher up, with the CEO being allowed to come and go whenever he pleases. I really fail to see the brouhaha over adhering to 9 to 5 regimens. It works well in a school (where you need to instill discipline, apart from the fact that you cant turn up for a 9 am class at 9:40 am) or in an army (where a herd like adherence to orders is the norm). I can’t see why it should be the same in companies, which I believe are constituted of free thinking and mature adults. Some tech companies seem to have realized this and it is not uncommon to see a few of them adopting a ‘flexible working hours’ scheme for their employees.

I think that the hangover from the manufacturing/ industrial era (when management wanted to be perceived as being equal to the workers) has permeated into white collar jobs too. However, in a white collar scenario, there is no fixed 9 to 6 activity (such as producing N widgets in X time) and hence I do not see why people are expected to sit around all day, or for that matter even turn up on days when all they have lined up is a couple of meetings!! Now that’s what I call, to use a manufacturing term, poor capacity utilization!


  1. Nirav


    I am a regular reader of your blog. Nice ideas. Keep them going.

    With regards to this particular topic, I would like to point out one assumption. The assumption is that the higher you go in the management, you actually start managing and stop working.

    This may not be the case with all industries. Also, we would be missing out those companies whose management cadre works directly in touch with clients. They have to be connected to the office (if not be in office) throughout the day, so that they can service their clients effectively.

    Of course, the actual job that the manager is being paid for is not limited to the office hours, so your point stands. Under today's competitive condition and peer pressure, a worker is a worker only from 9 to 5. A manager is a manager 24 X 7, or that's what is expected of him. So why force him to be in office?

    9:42 PM
  2. Swathi


    cant help but nod in agreement, now having shifted from a flexiwork-hour-type-of-office to a expected-to-be-in-seat-9-6 i find it such a pain - but ya i do use my own methods of flexi work hours..

    2:27 PM
  3. Anonymous


    dude, thats ok , but who are you????

    ha ha! its ironic that this is coming from an anonmyous but hey! i dont blog :p

    3:04 PM
  4. Anonymous


    dude, you are logical! but logic doesnt work in business now does it?

    take a company like infosys. when theres delivery you spend the entire day , night , weekends everything at infy. but after the delivery where theres lull, you dont get compensatory offs. it doesnt matter if you came to office on weekends or put in 15 hours a day. you cant take compenstaroy off bcoz thats the company policy!!!

    dude, i would say grow up. all these things sound good in the ideal world.

    3:09 PM
  5. gravatar

    Thanks for your comment Swathi.

    I believe that companies like Infosys are not different from a manufacturing setup, where projects are like manufacturing shifts and employees are like a labour force. And yes, I am talking about an ideal world where people work for as long and hard as they please, are held accountable only for results and stay at home if there no project at Infosys.

    4:34 PM