Alternating Working Hours to be Productive

Your 9-to-5 working hours originates from 19th century socialism as a way to protect factory workers from working over 100 hours a week. At that time, there was no maximum of working hours and employers demanded of workers to work more than 100 hours in hard labor factory jobs. This – by the way – included children work as well.

These unsustainable working hours finally resulted in massive protests of worker unions and around 1900 the first large companies adopted the 40 hour work week. It was not until 1938 that the 44-hour work became law. The idea was that workers will have 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for work, and 8 hours for recreation.

But why exactly are we still sitting Monday through Friday from nine in the morning until five in the evening in offices with artificial lighting? Let’s admit that sticking to the 9-to-5 working hours from the 19th and 20th century in a time of cloud computing and lightweight laptops is peculiar.

With cloud computing as the new norm, it is about time to rethink how we can offer our employees a different and better working time schedule which is actually adopted to our 21st century.

I think it is crucial to allow employees come whenever they want and leave whenever they want. Working hours schedules should be absolutely flexible. This does not necessarily mean that everyone does now have 100% autonomy. Why isn’t it the new normal to let new hires choose a working schedule which fits best to their personal life?

Isn’t it perfectly fine if Anna loves coming in for work at 5:30AM so that she can pick up her kids at 2:00PM from school? Jose – on the other hand – wakes up at 10AM, goes to the gym and has breakfast afterwards to clock in at 1PM. Pierre, who is a software engineer, loves working in the evening. He comes to the office at 4PM to leave at 1AM.

But full flexibility for employees is not the only way companies can adopt new working schedules. How about shifting your working hours entirely to the afternoon/evening? Let’s say your entire team starts working at 1PM. This way you avoid the lunch-dilemma, all your employees will come to work with a good breakfast and lunch. Everyone will now avoid traffic jams as you commute during off peak hours. This will in many cases save employees 20-40 minutes of time. Everyone can now follow their circadian rhythm instead of waking up to an alarm clock. Many will have time to workout in the morning – which will probably make them more productive during the afternoon office hours.

It is the task of leaders and employers to use the 40 hours in a more flexible way for their employees. Whether it is: pick your own schedule, come as you desire, or office hours which start at 1 PM.

What matters most is employee productivity which – by the way – will definitely not be the highest when employees clock in at 8 AM a Monday morning needing 5 cups of espresso before properly opening their eyes.

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