Is the 9-5 Job Really Dead?

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Is the 9-5 job dead? Reports are indicating the the traditional 9-5 job is dying. Here are some things to keep in mind to continue to excel professionally.

Last month an article made its way around the interwebs purporting that the 9-5 job might be dying. Running a business myself, the article instantly caught my attention. While it has been a little over three years since I quit my job to run our business, I readily admit that it’s not for everyone.

However, numbers point to a changing landscape that is having an impact on the traditional 9-5 job. Such as:

  • 50 million workers are freelancers today
  • Expectations of that moving to 40 percent of the workforce by 2020
  • 3 out of 10 workers worldwide are self-employed, according to Gallup – though admittedly many of those are out of necessity as the result of little to no opportunity

I don’t know that these numbers necessarily mean that the 9-5 job is dead, though I do believe it’s showing signs of old age.

The 9-5 Job is Not Dead…


The numbers above do point to change. There is no doubt about that. More companies are embracing the idea of freelancers or hiring contract workers. We’ve seen it in our own line of business. What was unheard of 5-10 years ago is now being embraced. It used to be a rarity to bring in a freelancer and now it’s seen as a good thing to help manage workflow.

That being said, I don’t believe that means the traditional 9-5 job is truly dead or necessarily dying. Fortune reports the companies making up the Fortune 500 are employing more people than ever – at 27 million total which is up 3 million from 2014. That’s just the top 500 most profitable companies in the U.S. and not other large companies. Simply put, many people are still employed in a traditional 9-5 job although the landscape is changing.

…But it Isn’t Healthy


No longer are we staying in jobs for 30+ years and setting off into the sunset with a gold watch at our retirement party. I’ve spoken at length with family members about this topic leading them to say that employers don’t care about their employees anymore.

We’ve all seen it. It was a rite of passage for many firms during the Great Recession. The headlines were full of companies laying off tens of thousands of people. The reasons behind each situation may have been different but at the end of the day they were shedding employees.

I believe this helped accelerate the shift we’re seeing. People began to see that they could not depend on their employer for everything and instead had to look outside the traditional mindset to think of new ways to earn income.

The increased number of contract workers I mentioned above is a clear sign that the traditional 9-5 job is not in the healthiest predicament today. Years ago, many employers would blindly just put up a new posting when a job came open. Today, more (at least in my experience) are looking to fill their production needs with freelancers or contract workers. This usually happens for two reasons:

  • It’s quicker
  • It’s cheaper

We Have More Responsibility


What does all of this mean with relation to our careers? Should we all cast aside the traditional 9-5 job and become freelancers or start our own businesses? I don’t believe so. It would be shortsighted to say that. But, I believe it behooves us to take more responsibility over our careers and livelihoods. No one else is going care about it as much as we do.

This can mean a variety of things, but ultimately I believe it means we need to look outside our comfortable boxes and find opportunity. That might mean changing jobs. It might mean starting a side hustle or two in order to make extra money and see where it takes you.

It might mean simply staying with your current employer but pushing to get that promotion you’ve been wanting in order to make the salary you want. Only you can know what it means for you, but it also requires thinking outside your comfort zone to get to where you want.

Is the 9-5 job dead? Reports are indicating the the traditional 9-5 job is dying. Here are some things to keep in mind to continue to excel professionally.

Flexibility and Value Are Today’s Currency


Regardless of your take on whether or not the 9-5 job is dead or dying, today’s culture requires flexibility and the ability to offer value. Things can, and do, happen rather quickly in many cases leaving you behind if you’re not flexible. That requires acting quickly when opportunity presents itself.

Whether you’re a traditional office worker or an entrepreneur, you must provide value. That value is a big piece of what sets you apart and will be what brings success in your career.

Think of this flexibility (really agility) and value as your currency. It’s something only you have and when you exercise it wisely it’ll get you to where you want. That’s the key really, regardless of your professional situation, to create the kind of professional life you want.

I don’t know if I’d say the 9-5 job is dead, but it’s definitely changing. Many of those changes are for the good in my opinion, though not all might be. As someone who has benefitted greatly from the changing culture, it excites me to see where culture is going on a professional level. But, it also reminds me that change is constant and those who seek to grow with it get to where they want.


Do you think the traditional 9-5 job is dead? What do you believe is the currency in today’s professional climate? If you work for yourself, why do you think the entrepreneurial culture is glamorized the way it is?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Awesome post, John. I think you’re right on. Multiple streams of income is even more important these days because of the insecurity of the 9-5 job. We need to be more diligent about watching out for ourselves. In the olden days, employers were more concerned about their employees. Now it seems it’s more about the bottom line.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Laurie! You’re exactly right, building multiple revenue streams is vital in today’s culture.

  • Mark@BareBudgetGuy says:

    It’s definitely not dead, and I am reminded of that every day when I go to work. It’s easy to romanticize self employment when you are not happy with your job. I’m lucky to be somewhere I like, but I still have to wonder if I’d be happier in business for myself.

    • John Schmoll says:

      You’re exactly right Mark – it’s very easy to romanticize working for yourself when you’re not happy in your job. But, self-employment is not the path to take simply out of unhappiness.

  • Thomas @ i need money ASAP! says:

    There are probably only a certain % of the population that would do well as a freelancer or an entrepreneur. I would imagine that most people lack the discipline and knowledge to work for themselves. Pushing more people into self employment could make things more unstable as people who would do better with a 9-5 job are forced into becoming a freelancer or small business owner.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I think you’re right on that count Thomas. I know for me it was an adjustment to develop that discipline. Putting food on the table can be a pretty good developer of discipline. 😉

  • Natalie @ Financegirl says:

    These are all great points. And I personally feel like the 9-5 is dying! But I will say that for the people in my “real world” life (i.e. not my blogger friends), it seems like they think I’m crazy. They wouldn’t even consider not working a 9-5. So, I’m reminded of something I heard Gary Vee say on a podcast — the world is so fragmented that what’s true for some people isn’t even recognized by others (and I’m paraphrasing). I think the 9-5 dying is a good thing and I hope it’s true. But I’m skeptical that this is the case for society at large, if that makes sense.

    • John Schmoll says:

      It does make sense Natalie. Most of our day to day friends look at us like we’re nuts for running our own business and liking not having a 9-5. To each their own I guess, but for me I couldn’t go back to working a 9-5.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I think the 9-5 is dying in some circles but not so much in others. Like FinanceGirl (above), I know a lot of people who think anyone who works outside of the 9-5 norm is crazy. Personally, I hope I never have to do the whole 9-5 thing again!

  • Jon @ Money Smart Guides says:

    I don’t think it is dead…yet. I do see more and more automation and technology replacing more jobs though as time goes on. I don’t think that it will completely kill off the 9-5 job, but there will be less of them.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I think there is a little built-in bias whenever someone thinks about this question. To someone who has freelanced or who owns a business full-time that essentially acts as a contractor, yes it seems like the 9-5 is dead. To someone working in corporate finance or accounting it definitely doesn’t seem like the 9-5 is dead. It would be difficult if not impossible to replace many of the corporate 9-5 jobs with contractors. From my experience contractors are pretty much only brought in for project work, not the day-to-day business functions. It’s rare to see a finance or accounting contractor, and if you do see one the typical direction the relationship goes is towards one where the contractor is converted to a full-time employee.

    Essentially yes I agree that things are changing, in part because of how much easier it is to hire contractors today than in the past, but there will always be 9-5 workers.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree DC there can be built-in bias there. But, that being said, anyone worth their salt is going to realize that working for yourself is not for everyone and be upfront about that.

      You’d be surprised, there are some sectors where contractors are being brought in more for day-to-day functions. It’s cheaper to do so and brings added flexibility for the firm. But, as others have pointed out, I think it depends on the sector.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    I don’t think 9-5 is dead, but it certainly has expanded into more options. Certain types of jobs always mean someone has to show up during normal business hours, from eye doctor to store clerk, but with technology jobs, there’s really no reason to be bound by any sort of set schedule.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Completely agreed Kim. There are some roles where showing up is absolutely necessary, but believe we’ll see more movement towards contractor type relationships.

  • Kayla @ The Jenny Pincher says:

    I agree that while the 9-5 isn’t dead, a lot more people care about things like flexibility and that is changing the nature of the 9-5 job.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

    I think there’s definitely a trend at present towards non-traditional work styles and workplaces. As more of our work moves online, the need for brick and mortar offices diminishes. And, I think many younger employees crave the flexibility that comes from working at home/working for yourself.

    Having worked at a 9-5 office job for the last 9 years, I’m absolutely looking forward to quitting in a few years! I think it’s just too constraining for all the different things people want to do with their lives these days.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Completely agreed Mrs. FW. I think the changing dynamics younger people want, plus the movement towards online is making this a trend.

      You’re going to love the flexibility! We work more now than we ever had in a corporate gig, but the flexibility was nonexistent then. We make far more than we ever did in the corporate world and have flexibility – I’ll take that any day.

  • Hannah says:

    Entrepreneurship is glamorized because there are quite a few people selling lifestyle products who have a vested interest in making sure that entrepreneurship stays glamorous.

    I don’t mind the marketing at all, but I think that there are huge swaths of the population that are actually happier as employees than as small business owners. It’s just not for everyone.

    I think if you are one of the many people who like the 9-5, then the key is marketing yourself to that (enormous) network. Make sure that people are constantly banging on your door to offer you new jobs- you don’t have to take them, but you should never be without options.

    On the other hand, if the 9-5 isn’t you, be sure that your getting enough of that paper currency instead of just “flexibility”

    • John Schmoll says:

      Excellent input Hannah! I think you hit the nail on the head with the marketing we hear telling us that working for yourself is an end all be all….because it’s certainly not.

      That networking is vital. I’d say just as much, if not more, in the traditional 9-5 role. You want to have those options because you never know when you might need/want one of them.

      Completely agreed. Flexibility is great, but it doesn’t keep you warm or put food on the table.

  • Alexandra @ Real Simple Finances says:

    You’re right that the nature of 9-5 is changing. It’s definitely becoming more evident for more people that the old traditional work hours aren’t really meeting their needs. I also don’t think that 9-5 can really die. We’ve set up our society around that schedule, and it would take a lot more than an increase in freelancers to change the whole society. Still, I think it’s a good thing more people are becoming aware that there are options for them, and that more companies are allowing for flexible work schedules and work-from-home opportunities!

    • John Schmoll says:

      You bring up a good point Alexandra. I think the schedule does play a big role in it, especially in a society that champions working as hard as you can.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I don’t think the 9-5 job is dead because there will always be a demand for it, but I do believe that how we look at it is changing. It used to be what everyone seeked and once you landed that good job, you were set. Now we know that’s not true. I think businesses will need to become more flexible – i.e. telecommuting, flexible hours – to attract high-quality employees and more employees will opt to be self-employed and contractors to retain more control over their professional lives. Change can be scary but I also think there are many exciting opportunities as well.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Agreed Shannon, I do think it is changing though don’t believe it’s dead. I also agree that employers will need to start offering more flexible arrangements, especially as younger generations continue to enter the workforce.

  • Gary @ Super Saving Tips says:

    I don’t think the 9-5 job is dead or even dying, but I do think there are a lot more options than before, and partly by necessity. Just like the 9-5 world isn’t for everyone, working for yourself isn’t for everyone either, and I think both options will continue for a long time to come. Which is especially great news for those who want to diversify their income and do some of each.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    Well, you know that I’m not someone who would glamorize the entrepreneurial path especially because I talk about crying in the shower all the time, but I think that people who aren’t entrepreneurs glamorize it because they desire the flexibility in their own lives. They don’t realize that the flexibility comes at a different price and one of the biggest prices that I pay is in the days I work. Instead of the typical 5 days a week, I typically work 7 and it’s unusual for me to work less than 6 unless I take a vacation but then I pay for it in other ways before and after.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I can relate to those moments as I’ve had similar ones myself. That’s an excellent point about the working aspect. I rarely take an entire day off. There are certainly drawbacks to that, though the tradeoffs are well worth it in our situation.

  • Adam @ says:

    As Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

    9-5’s aren’t going anywhere, though they’ve become a lot less appealing as layoffs have become normal and pension plans (that keep you there) have been substituted with 401k’s (take it with you).

    Entrepreneurship and side hustles are for a lot of people and easier to do with the internet economy, but the bulk of the population will always work for somebody.

  • Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels says:

    Freelancing, location and time flexibility have definitely became more important. I am still a proud corporate employee (9 to 5), however, being lucky enough I am able to work based on my own hours (because I was given location freedom, so I travel!). However, I also run my own online business, so I just balance them both. The benefit of 9 to 5 job is the steady income, because as a freelancer, you never know. I love this post!

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