As the nature of work continues to evolve, the traditional 9 to 5 workday is becoming a thing of the past. Flexible schedules, remote work, and accommodating individual preferences are increasingly common in the modern workplace. It has many business owners and managers keeping a close eye on how this might affect productivity in workplaces.
Does the time of day that we work have an impact on our output? What about where we work? Is productivity in remote workplaces significantly different from what gets done at in-office operations? These are important questions for employees, business owners, HR professionals, and analysts to unravel in our modern, highly dynamic employment landscape.
As you may have already guessed, there are no simple answers to these questions because each of us is different. Each of us has different body chemistry, hobbies, and personalities – we lead different lives, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer for when you should be logging in to work or heading to the office. That’s why the first key to finding our most productive hours is accepting that the best time of day may be different for each of us.
Decades ago, employees at just about any type of business had to conform to a set schedule, regardless of their own internal clocks, lifestyle factors, or preferences. However, with more flexible work arrangements becoming the norm, the best time to work may vary from person to person. Business owners can leverage this new paradigm to maximize the efficiency and productivity of their workforce.
Productivity is a measure of how much work is accomplished in a certain amount of time. For the best operations, productivity is not about demanding longer hours or squeezing more out of people. Rather, it’s about working smarter and more efficiently – in other words, putting people in positions where they will succeed. Sometimes this means more than just putting them in the right role to maximize the use of their skill set; it also means putting them on the right shift so they’re working when they’re at their personal best.
Key Productivity Concepts
Here are some key ideas to keep in mind as we attempt to understand productivity and learn how we can maximize it through more flexible scheduling:
- Productivity is not just about working long hours or demanding that your people meet difficult benchmarks. It’s about deploying your workforce intelligently and efficiently so that those benchmarks are met consistently without the need for constant correction or micromanagement on your end.
- Flexible, creative solutions that solve issues in a long-term way and ensure adequate staffing are typically more effective than punishing overworked employees for failing to meet deadlines or performing up to standards.
- The best time of day to work will vary from person to person, depending on their individual preferences, internal clock, and the other circumstances in their lives. Remember, your employees are real people, and they have obligations and challenges outside of the workplace.
- Flexible scheduling can be a great way to show your employees that you care about working collaboratively with them to create a situation that is healthy and productive for the business and its employees alike.
- Research has shown that the most productive time of day for most people is in the late morning to the early afternoon, making it a good starting point when you’re trying to set your optimal work schedule.
- Adjusting someone’s shift can lead to a productivity boost for some workers, but it isn’t always the answer. Other aspects that can affect productivity include environmental factors, distractions, health issues, and changes in workloads or responsibilities.
By remembering these key concepts, business owners and managers will be better equipped to accommodate the needs of their valuable employees while also finding new opportunities for maximizing operation productivity. This can lead to a happier and more engaged workforce, as well as more tangible benefits when it comes to your company’s bottom line.
Productivity in the Remote Workplace
The modern workforce has seen a shift toward remote work, and it’s now less controversial than ever to say that this trend is here to stay. With the global pandemic forcing businesses to adapt to remote work arrangements, many employees found themselves working from home for the first time. For many, this was a game-changer.
While there are certainly benefits to working remotely, there are also challenges to overcome. A few years after the start of the pandemic, we’re still ironing out some of those wrinkles.
For remote workers with certain personality types or those who live with neurodivergence like ADHD, one of the biggest challenges has been maintaining productivity throughout the workday. For many, however, this might be a simple matter of how you define that workday. With workers no longer locked into office routines, it may also be time to free them from the standard 9 to 5 business day.
When it comes to productivity in the remote workplace, finding the best time of day to work can be crucial. It’s important to listen to your body to identify when you feel the most alert, focused, creative, and clear-headed, as this is when you’ll be able to produce your best work – and the same goes for your workers. Some people are morning people and feel most productive as soon as they wake up, while others live up to the “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” statement emblazoned on their coffee mug. Still other people are night owls and are at their best in the evening.
Traditional Workplace Biases
If the idea of your workers having significant input into their own schedules is something that bothers you, take a deep breath, let go of your existing biases about the employer-employee relationship, and ask yourself whether it truly harms your operation from a practical standpoint. Your workers wanting flexibility is not a personal attack on you, and it doesn’t represent you somehow losing control of your company. It is all about finding what works best for everyone, allowing them to better support the business and one another.
If your business model can afford you the opportunity to let these workers experiment with their schedules, there’s nothing to gain by locking them into a 9 to 5 routine. Sometimes, doing so is a matter of breaking out of the habits and thought patterns you’ve developed after years in business. If this is the case, it may be time to accept the fact that there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to finding the best time of day to be productive, and it’s not going to be the same for every person on your team.
Tips for Remote Workers to Stay Productive
It’s important to remember that remote workers can still become worn down by long hours and experience high levels of stress. If you’re looking for optimal productivity for remote workers, they’ll need to focus on defining a good balance between work and personal life and setting the necessary boundaries with coworkers, clients, family members, and managers to maintain that balance. The fact that you have remote employees should have no impact on the professionalism you extend to them as colleagues. For example, just because someone is working from home and has around-the-clock access to their workstation, this doesn’t mean they’re on-call 24/7.
That said, instead of mandating working hours and micromanaging worker habits, try providing helpful tips for productivity and work-life balance.
Here are some of our favorite tips for staying productive in a remote work setting:
Create A Workspace
Create a dedicated workspace and keep it well organized. Set up a designated workspace in your home where you can focus solely on work. This doesn’t need to be a whole room, but if it’s a corner of your bedroom, try to use dividers, wall hangings, furniture, or throw rugs to make it feel “separate” so that you can disconnect from home life when you log in. Make sure the area you choose is free from distractions and has all the supplies, tools, and technology you need to stay productive.
Develop A Routine
Once you’ve found your optimal work schedule, stick to the routine. Try to maintain a consistent schedule, including regular working hours and breaks. This can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Focus on maximizing your own productivity but also be conscious of coworkers and clients and their need to communicate and collaborate with you.
Don’t Skip Your Breaks
It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries or just rest your eyes after staring at screens too long. Go for a walk, read a book, grab a granola bar, go pet the dog, do meditation or breathing exercises, or take 10 to 20 minutes to just do something else and reset your mind. The Pomodoro Technique can be a great way to help you stay focused. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and when it goes off, take five minutes to do something unrelated to work. After about four times of repeating this, take a longer break.
Communicate With Your Team
Whatever schedule you develop, communication remains a fundamental aspect of any business. When working remotely, communication does not cease to be key just because you’re not having face-to-face chats in the office. Make sure you’re regularly checking in with your team so that you stay up to date on projects and deadlines.
Change It Up
Finding the best time of day to be productive and then setting a consistent daily schedule is crucial. However, if your lifestyle changes or your schedule just stops working for you, and you find yourself in a rut, don’t be afraid to once again experiment with different times and find what works best for you.
When working from home, it can be easy to blur the lines between work and personal life. Set clear boundaries for yourself, both with your work and your family, and stick to them to ensure you’re not working too much or too little. It can be a stress reliever and a productivity booster to have your work life and home life so close together. However, be sure you’re still clearly delineating the two.
Working remotely can be both challenging and rewarding. Implementing these strategies, and healthy lifestyle choices in general, can help remote workers stay productive and engaged throughout the day so both your workers and your business thrive under our new paradigm.
Finding Your Most Productive Time
We’ve talked about the value of flexibility and balance, but how can your workers find their most productive time? It all starts by identifying whether each worker is a morning person, a night owl, or someone who thrives during an overnight shift.
The truth is that most people don’t precisely fit any of those types. Instead, the typical worker has what experts call a “third bird” body rhythm that functions better at certain types of tasks at certain times of the day. By figuring out where these general peaks and valleys of creativity, motivation, and energy lie, workers can unlock additional levels of productivity and start doing their best work. This is because they can start to optimize their schedule to take advantage of their natural energy levels and the changes in brain chemistry throughout the day.
For those classic “morning people,” the early morning hours are, of course, the most productive. For most of us, though, they really aren’t good for much of anything. The night owls among us may find that although their creativity spikes in the morning, they develop an intense focus that kicks in during the later part of the day.
The majority of people fall in the aforementioned “third bird” category, however. For these people, analytical tasks are best handled during their morning “peak,” with more mundane tasks handled throughout the afternoon “slump.” Creative brainstorming works best for the evening “rebound.” This brings up one last crucial factor in our productivity equation: The best time of day to work doesn’t just vary from person to person. It will also depend on what sort of work is being done.
Stay Productive and Keep Outsourcing an Option
The moral of the story? If you have remote workers and your business has some semblance of flexibility, extending that flexibility to workers’ schedules can benefit everyone involved. Even though most workers fit into the “third bird” category, demanding productivity at the same time each day can be a self-defeating practice. Allowing your workers the flexibility to determine their most productive times of day can be a beneficial exercise that increases productivity and worker satisfaction at the same time.
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