An Accountant in Adland: The 5-to-9er #coronavirusSA [S2 E6]
by Siwe Lawrence (@Siwe_Lawrence) If you aren’t holding something down after 5pm, are you even a Joburger?
A few months ago, I responded to an invitation from The Grooming Social, a platform started by brilliant marketers and brand-builders, Mzontsundu “Mzo” Ntuli and Mpange Chapeshamano, which creates spaces for progressive conversations to groom the kind of citizens that South Africa wants and needs.
The invitation was to join a group of likeminded individuals and influencers in the City of Joburg and attend a beautifully curated dining experience with multiple courses, designed with the intent of describing the conversation theme of the evening through creative storytelling by the chef as he introduced each meal. The Grooming Social had partnered with Liberty to start the conversation about a segment in the workplace that’s often overlooked — the 5-to-9er. This segment is anyone who works after 5pm on another hustle. The irony is that this event unfolded in exactly the same manner that this new segment experiences an average day: straight from work to a business engagement or side hustle in the evening.
Warning: Hold on to your “9-to-5” phrasing hats — in this piece we are going to flip it ’n reverse it quite a bit.
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Why just 9-to-5 isn’t enough anymore
“Double Up/Three or four times, I ain’t tellin no lies,
I just run it up/Never let a hard time humble us” —Nipsey Hussle
The above lyric from hip-hop artist, Nipsey Hussle, is a perfect example of how even artists are constantly ‘heroing’ the side-hustle life and the ability to double, triple, quadruple your income, despite our circumstances.
A July 2019 article from City Press outlined how most South Africans had run out of runway when it came to the money they make from their conventional salaries and how side-hustling had beenable to continue to help them live the lifestyles they do. According to Moneyweb, one in three South Africans in 2017 were taking on additional jobs to make it through the month. Most of these individuals were doing something poles apart from their current roles to boost their income. In an FNB Retail Segment Data report released in December 2018, looking at the middle-income earning between R7 000–R60 000, it was observed that 56% of middle-income consumers spend their entire monthly salary in five days or less. Now, if that truth doesn’t kick you in the gut, then please adopt me.
How in the world are people surviving after Day 5?!
The 5-to-9er is an interesting and simplistic articulation of what’s always been there for the longest time (pre-covid-19). The packing up of your laptop from work, only to unpack it at home or at a restaurant table over a dinner business meeting. The taking off of your corporate heels to put on the sneakers you need to go shoot photography at a launch event. The real “tools-down” notion really only happening much later that evening. This shift is happening because we live in a world of people who want more for their lives and who want to stretch themselves to their fullest capacities in order to live a double- (or multiple) income life. People aren’t waiting for marriage to have that double-income life. They’re seeking it for themselves and doing whatever they want to do to secure double that bag.
It was so interesting at The Social Grooming event to engage with young people (some with families, some without) who have an insatiable need for “more” and to live truly abundant lives. I found myself in good company. The conventional 9-to-5 on its own won’t cut it anymore because of the increased demands of our lives and the exposure to what more we can do with our talents and passion points. In the creative industry, I’ve come across many creatives who are copywriters by day and something else by night. This pattern extends across all industries, too. Success in both means being able to show up as your best self in both realms.
In an article written for INC.com, entrepreneur and creative director Rob Gobori writes: “Every day, you have the choice to wake up and be damn good at what you do, and you also have the choice to make it by on the bare minimum. In my experience, the best indicator of a successful leader is the ability to discern what needs to be done from 9 to 5 and what needs to be done from 5 to 9.”
Your 5-to-9 can now be during your 9-to-5
The pandemic has brought with it a shift to what I’ve just described. As we lean more and more into what I call “From-Home’isms (work from home, teach from home, shop from home etc), we start finding that we can actually do more with our time now than what we could do before.
For one, we don’t have traffic to deal with. From-Home’isms have allowed us to optimise what we can do at any given time, allowing us to all champion what it means to multitask — gone, dead and buried is the usual gender stereotype. You can be in a virtual work meeting while uploading that vlog that you did yesterday to your platforms and while sending your post-lockdown proposal to your partners and funders on how your business will now look in the new normal.
Your 5-to-9 has now somehow found its way to intertwine itself in your Microsoft Outlook diary and allows you to apply yourself to your hopes and dreams outside of your job, now that you have that time. The side-hustle can literally now live side-by-side to your 9-to-5.
Accounting for the “double-up”
Perhaps the biggest irony is that side-hustling in South Africa has become so much part of the mainstream that financial institutions are coming to the party and tailoring their products. How are investment products showing up? And savings or business lending products? How are preferential rates taking into account that people are becoming this new 5-to-9er persona?
At The Grooming Social event, the partnership with a brand such as Liberty was critical in extending the conversation into the financial-institution role realm and how to invest or protect your income-earning ability from the extra hours you put in. The cold truth of this novel coronavirus pandemic is that, in many instances, many people have had salary cuts or have lost their 9-to-5s and are now leaning heavily into their 5-to-9s. Financial institutions have to ensure that their assurance products are agile enough to adapt while still staying true to celebrating and backing the side-hustler. It’s always really great when a product authentically innovates in response to a change in society. #ThisIsNotAnAd
It’s also going to be interesting to observe how this new persona is able to impact organisations in SA from even a working-hours perspective. Will 9-to-5 become 9-to-3 in the future, especially in light of even the basic ways of working having shifted due to the effects of the pandemic? No conclusive answer there but I do know is that society is creating spaces for us to create ‘more’ for ourselves. Because we all deserve that “living-comfortably-post-Day-5” life!
- Columns | An Accountant in Adland – Siwe Lawrence
- #OpenForBusiness — Radar
- #CoronavirusSA — Radar
- #CoronavirusSA – Special Section
Siwelile Lawrence (née Thusi) (@Siwe_Lawrence) is a qualified South African chartered-accountant-turned-senior-strategist at M&C Saatchi Abel; she’s also a working photographer and writer. Since mid-2015, she’s been in strategic planning, working on some of South Africa’s big brands in different categories and industries in the ATL and digital spaces. Siwe contributes the regular column, “An Accountant in Adland“ — exploring the fluidity of the disciplines and other themes like film and music that influence our lives — to MarkLives.com.
This MarkLives #CoronavirusSA special section contains coverage of how the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its resultant disease, covid-19, is affecting the advertising, marketing and related industries in South Africa and other parts of Africa, and how we are responding. Updates may be sent to us via our contact form or the email address published on our Contact Us page. Opinion pieces/guest columns must be exclusive.