Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Working 9-5. Is it still the way to earn a living?

By Marco Bertozzi, President EMEA of Whalar

After a few months, some wonderful consulting gigs, a chance to build my own company and learn about others, I am taking up the chance to work full time for an amazing business called Whalar. One of the leading Influencer Marketing businesses globally. The company, albeit at a different scale, finds itself in a similar place to Spotify 4/5 years ago when I joined and for me, it is the most exciting opportunity to take a high flying business in a fast-emerging part of marketing to even greater things. 

Expect to see and hear a lot more about Whalar and Influencer Marketing. This post though is not about that, it’s actually about the return to 9-5 and how that feels. 

I read a post recently that asked if 9-5 was antiquated? According to them, it was, we have all this tech, we can go off and do stuff and just come back so why do we need to have any rules around it? Well, that got me thinking about the fact that we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

The bathwater? Well, we all know what that is, the commute, the costs, the distractions and so on, many posts on those topics and I do appreciate them but just hold one second on the baby. There is a reason we go to bed at night and work in the day, there is a reason we more or less work at the same time, it’s because work rarely happens in a vacuum. Some does of course, but most of the media industry does not. If we lose that coordination then there will be implications. 

The thing for me, as we think about the pros and cons, is that people only think about themselves, they don’t think about other people who are also thinking about themselves. Imagine a world where your boss decides he or she is not going to work afternoons and likes the 7-10 pm slot; they start to fire emails and demands at you while you are doing bath time and that’s not going to be great. To make matters worse, people who work for you don’t like mornings and fancy starting later and so you can’t get hold of them until later. Now there is a huge delay between your boss’s demands and the people who help you fulfil them. What a mess. 

Clients in all their forms have one thing in common and that’s that they want stuff whenever they ask it.If they are prepared to pull a pitch just before Christmas then they are happy to ask you for work at 6 am because that’s when they like to work…but your media owner team have a very flexible policy and don’t work before certain times and are off certain days. In fact, this week they have the whole company on a week off! You get the picture. If you add in the office or out of the office then this is a proper nightmare. 

The reason structures came about was that we collectively agreed that we would all work together and get the most done in that period of time. It works because it means you all collectively have downtime. Just think about between Christmas and New Year. Does anyone actually try to do work through that period? Nothing happens, except those working on that arsehole client pitch and even then the clients off skiing. It’s a great example of when you are out of sync with the majority, it might give you headspace but not much else. 

There are maybe too many meetings, we could be in the office at different times, but let’s not start letting go of things that keep us in tune because, if we do, we will create an environment of ‘always on’, that being when you are on, then when colleagues are on and then bosses are on. The flex you gain in one place will be eaten up somewhere else. Be careful what you wish for as your convenience may not be someone else’s. 

As I start at Whalar, I will have to navigate all of this and I definitely don’t want to be a dinosaur about it, some areas have to evolve. My prediction is we make it through winter, like making it through a dark night, and when it gets lighter and we see where we are, companies will need to make some decisions about how they work and what they expect of people, some people won’t like that and will leave, others will join, the great big merry-go-round of 2022, but eventually it will settle and I hope we collectively agree that we should where possible keep work to daylight hours.