People are different. They are meant to be different. Thank god really because it would be quite dull if everyone was the same. Preferences, choices, likes, dislikes extend in infinite areas. This also includes the time when people feel most productive. Some people are night owls and feel most productive late at night while some (or maybe most) think that mornings are better. Even mornings are subjective as there are those who wake up even before the sun rises. As I type this blog post, the time is 1:49 AM, so clearly I am in the night owl category! Well, this is an aberration but I certainly have never enjoyed waking up very early. I always say that there is a difference between 3 o’clock in the morning and 3 o’clock at night. The former is when you have slept the previous night and awoken at 3 AM and the latter is when you have not slept at all and stayed up till 3.
I noticed the different productive hours of people during my college days. In the days preceding the exams (let’s not count the day just before it) some of my friends preferred to wake up at 6 AM to study and some stayed up till 2 AM and woke up late the next morning. One of my best friends used to sleep around 9 PM and wake up at 2 AM to study. On many occasions we exchanged “Good Morning – Good Night” texts. But each to his own and definitely let’s not go in to the exam results!
As I entered work life, I observed that it is not much different here. Some of my colleagues preferred coming to office at 9 in the morning while some came in at 11. Some stayed late and became more productive during the latter part of the day. Of course when you are older, there are other factors which come into play like traffic, means of transport, family etc. But the fact remains that people perform their best at different times.
However, when you’re working in a team you can’t really dictate your own time. It’s extremely hard to collaborate if half the team is starting work at 9 AM and the other at noon. You need to be together for a reasonable number of hours so the overhead of communication is reduced. Generally, a team adapts to a certain routine and timings according to the kind of work and mutual understanding. There are also some situations where you need to have a fixed time policy. This is particularly applicable when you’re working in shifts or supporting some critical function. Here in lies an added benefit of going home at a reasonable hour and maintaining a healthy work life balance.
A recent survey showed that 37% participants preferred a 9 – 6 timing and 27% preferred a completely flexible time policy. While the preference for a fixed time policy is still higher, the trend for flexi-time has kept on increasing through the years. A flexi-time policy gives a lot of freedom to employees. They can get work done without sacrificing on other responsibilities and recreation. This in turn increases employee productivity and employee engagement. Employees can work at a time when they know or at least feel that their productivity is maximum.
I have worked in organizations and seen the flexi-time policy working pretty successfully. But I have also seen a fair share of arguments to realize that it’s not perfect. While enjoying the freedom, you need to keep some things in mind:-
- Work comes first – If you have an important call in the morning, you have to start your day early even if you’re a night owl
- Collaboration matters – You need to ensure that the whole team is together for a reasonable amount of time so information can be shared easily
- Be productive – This is the main reason why you have been given this freedom. Try to maximise your productivity and be in the zone.
According to the nature of your work and culture of the company, you need to choose the time policy which suits you best. Whatever it is you choose, if you are increasing employee productivity and maintaining work life harmony, you are on the right track.