Routines vs. flexible work days: the pros and cons

Routines vs. flexible work days: the pros and cons

calendar 2018-04-17 time 6 min READ Sarah Miller

Let’s talk about the 9-to-5 workday. Songs have been sung and movies have been made about this classic staple of the American dream. These days, however, the work week has changed quite a bit. What once was common for most of the workforce is now modified, due to technology and increasing awareness of employee’s needs.

Are you just starting out in your career? Are you changing locations? Do you have a mountain of responsibilities outside of the office? One size does not fit all in the working world. It’s awe-inspiring to see employers finally taking notice.

A 9-to-5 routine is essential for some lives, and detrimental to others. Here are some important pros and cons that will help you narrow down what you’re really looking for while exploring different career options.

pros of routine working hours

Routine work day: Pros

  • Compartmentalization. Many people enjoy knowing that once 5 o’clock hits, their day is over. They are then free to meet with friends for happy hour, work on personal projects, or zone out on their latest Netflix binge. There is a security of knowing when a workday begins and ends every day. So you can prepare yourself mentally for different challenges.
  • Security. Knowing that you’re guaranteed a certain amount of hours a week is a great comfort for a lot of people. If you are taking care of your family, or have a set amount of bills to pay, having the security of a routine schedule is essential for your life to function properly.
  • Built-in friendships. Whether you love or hate your job, misery or happiness loves company. Many people forge strong ties with fellow co-workers while working. This happens through daily exposure of course, but also through team building projects, collaboration, and watercooler chats. Many people build lifelong friendships from working together on a daily basis.
  • Benefits. If you’re working a traditional job model, you likely get many benefits that are built into the contract. Between holidays off, health insurance, and even dental, having a routine can mean freedom of not having to worry in other ways.

cons of routine days

Routine work day: cons

  • Everywhere is busy. If you work a 9-to-5 routine job, literally everywhere after work will be busy nearly all of the time. Since most people still work the traditional 9-to-5 model, grabbing groceries after work or going to the movies for some weekend fun can mean you’re constantly in a crowd.
  • Office drama. As much as you’ll create friendships in a routine work life, you may also get swept up in the office drama and gossip. It’s really difficult to navigate the unique environment that only a full 40-hour workweek can drum up, so be wary of getting caught in the middle of it.
  • Stifles creativity. If you’re working on a project and aren’t getting anywhere with it, it’s likely you need some space from it. Staring at something too long without a much-needed break to recharge can cause you more confusion than inspiration. In the traditional office timeline, your best, most creative work may not be sent out. Creative inspiration comes at different times for different people.

working from home

With the constant expansion of the internet and working on a global scale, it is becoming less apparent why 9-to-5 is necessary for a lot of career options. People are now working remotely on their own timeline, or have many project-based and contract/freelance jobs. There are also people who opt for a flexible working environment in which they originally had a traditional workday. This happens when they split part of their time at home while spending only one or two days in the office.

Flexible work day: pros

  • Freedom. This goes without saying, but creating your own workday can be a dream. Perhaps you have responsibilities (walking the dog during lunch or picking up your child from school, for instance), that prohibit you from a traditional 9-5 job. Having the flexibility to work on your own life timeline will bring more flow to your projects.
  • Avoid commuting stresses. There is nothing more depressing than sitting in traffic to and from work. As much time as you are at work, you may as well add an additional hour or two, just sitting around and waiting. Whether you work from home or in an office, adjusting your schedule to avoid the normal commuting stresses is a life saver. Think about how much time and mental energy you’d save in a day just being out of traffic.
  • No more burnout. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, but still have five hours on the clock to go – this can lead to employee burnout very quickly. There are many companies that “churn and burn” their employees, not taking account of their good beings. With a flexible work schedule – a schedule on your terms, you can create a space for you to take a break and recalibrate far before you feel the burn.
  • Employers are happier too. Studies show a flexible work schedule increases company morale, reduces tardiness, and employees feel more engaged with the work.

pros of flexible workdays

Flexible work day: cons

  • Less support. When you’re working for yourself or at home, you often have less support or management than you would in the traditional 9-5 model. Even if you’re in the office, your schedule may not line up with colleagues that you’d like to work with. This can cause different kinds of stress that wouldn’t happen if fellow colleagues were at your fingertips.
  • Self-discipline. Frankly, unless you have built self-discipline and set up boundaries with your family and friends, having a flexible work schedule is a difficult hurdle to get over. If you work at home, your loved ones and homelife will often intrude on your work-time, making it difficult to focus.
  • Part-time drawbacks: Often flexible jobs means you may be working part-time. This may work well with your current life schedule, but many employees who only work part-time get looked over for promotions and bigger projects you may be interested in. Another problem is that “part-time” could still mean you’re working nearly full-time work without the benefits of the other full-time employees.

There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to picking out a career. Many companies have both routine and flexible work schedules, as they recognize the benefits of having a diverse community of employees. Finding the right work-life balance for your needs is not only important to establish the kind of worker you are, but to feel supported and sustained in your present career while working towards a bright future.


About the author:

Sarah E. Miller is a writer for Best Coast Marketing, a marketing agency that helps increase traffic through content marketing.