Problems Working 9-to-5?

The 9-to-5 workday, originating as an Industrial Revolution-era compromise between laborers and management, may be like many compromises: an agreement that leaves both parties less than satisfied. While some workers find that such a schedule maximizes their productivity while leaving ample time for their private pursuits, others take issue with having a predetermined routine. These differences, as might be expected, may come down to basic functions of our varying personality types.

We asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You often feel that the usual 9-to-5 work schedule does not suit you well,” and the results were, as always, enlightening. Notably, there appeared to be a significant discrepancy between Intuitive and Observant types (69% vs. 50% agreeing, respectively) and between Prospecting and Judging types (69% vs. 53%).

However, there did not appear to be a significant difference between Introverts and Extraverts (62% and 61%) or between Turbulent and Assertive types (62% and 59%). Because these make up the aspects that govern our Strategies, the responses seem to show that this preference has less to do with responding to our external environment and more to do with internal factors like information-gathering and flexibility. Before we dig into these broader implications, let’s take a look at how each personality type responded in the chart below:

Next, we explore how these preferences are expressed in each Role:


Analysts (72% agreeing)

Stubbornly independent, Analysts are often adept at solving problems, but may insist that they be given the latitude to do so in their own way, and in their own time. When pursuing a goal, their work-life balance may be nonexistent. Whether an Analyst is employed by another or engaged in a more entrepreneurial endeavor, one shouldn’t be surprised to find these personality types working late into the night, catching a few winks of sleep, then diving right back in – only to crash for days at a time when the goal is finally reached. Their working habits may appear hazardous to some[1], but few Analysts feel compelled to let a clock be their master.

Diplomats (68%)

While some Diplomats may enjoy the camaraderie that can come from working alongside the same group of people at the same time of day, for months and years on end, others may question the demands that such rigid schedules impose on workers (and not just themselves). Diplomats’ empathetic and often philosophical nature may lead these personality types to desire more flexibility. What is work compared to caring for young children or aging parents? What good is a salary if it leaves you bereft of freedom? Reality has a way of answering these questions, but these personality types look for ways to balance these principles with doing most of their work when they feel most inspired, not when their alarm clock says so.

Explorers (58%)

The pragmatic side of Explorers may lead many of them to accept that, if 9-to-5 is the norm, then they must be willing to adapt to that schedule to succeed. This schedule may at times be an ill fit for these personality types’ dynamic, spontaneous natures, though. Much like Analysts, Explorers may prefer to set their own hours. However, where Analysts are dogged in pursuit of a solution, Explorers may take a “path of least resistance” approach, doing what they need to do, but ever ready for the rush that comes from seizing an opportunity.

Sentinels (46%)

As a Role that does best when dealing with clearly demarcated responsibilities and the certainty of well-ordered routines, Sentinels may have few objections to the 9-to-5 work schedule – indeed, these personality types may have been instrumental in its development! While they may at times feel the urge to come in early and stay late to ensure that a project meets a critical deadline, Sentinels are likely to feel most comfortable adhering to something as standardized as “8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation, 8 hours of rest.”


Interestingly, the Strategies played little part in how our community responded to the statement, despite the 9-to-5 work schedule’s effects on everything from our social lives to our sense of security. It shows just how fundamental time management is to our decision-making, and how deeply internal it is as an aspect of our personalities.


Few of us have the privilege to work only when the spirit moves us. Of course, greater flexibility is not an unadulterated good. Typically, flexibility and security are opposite poles of a spectrum, and finding a workable balance that best suits the individual can take years to achieve. This balance may forever remain an unattainable luxury.

For the vast majority of workers, even those who are ostensibly “self-employed,” there will be times when one must work in spite of fatigue, illness, or emotional turmoil. While the 9-to-5 work schedule may be a source of tension for some though, it remains an effective compromise for many others.