Blog Post

    The Ideal Work Schedule for You or Your Team, According to Science

    You do everything you can to make your working hours productive, from experimenting with time-management strategies to prioritizing job training. But did you know that shifting your work schedule could be the key to leveling up at the office? Read on to discover which work schedule is ideal for your biology, age, and personality!

    1. Traditional 9 – 5

    The classic work schedule that many companies default to for their full-time employees. These work hours can be ideal for employees in their late teens to mid-20s, who tend to go to bed and wake up later. In fact, circadian rhythms (the biological clocks that regulate the body) are different for teenagers and young adults than older folks due to a release of melatonin (the hormone that helps to control sleeping and waking cycles) later in the day.

    2. Flexible Schedule

    Flexible schedules are exactly what they sound like: working periods that aren’t limited to the traditional 9 AM to 5 PM. This could mean a variety of work schedules designed to fit work around life instead of life around work, such as:

    • Hours that change every day depending on when you want to come in or what commitments you need to adapt to (dropping children at school, for instance)
    • A 9/80 flexible schedule, in which you work longer hours for 9 business days and receive the 10th off every other week
    • A results-only work environment (ROWE), where your performance is judged based upon results and not the number or agenda of hours worked

    To figure out whether a non-traditional schedule is for you, consider whether you thrive under structure and routine or prefer freedom and flexibility. For example, do you like sleeping and waking at the same time every day? Do you have the discipline to complete your work without daily deadlines and consistent oversight?

    3. Lark Time

    If you’re genetically predisposed to be a morning person (known as a “lark”), shifting your schedule forward in the day can take advantage of your most productive hours. Start your working hours earlier and beat everyone to the office for a productive AM block, and get your hardest tasks done before lunchtime. We won’t judge you if you close your eyes for a quick nap after chowing down, too.

    4. Night Owl Hours

    The opposite of front-loaded hours, the night owl work schedule is optimized for people who hit their stride in the afternoon and evening. If your alarm’s snooze button is worn out and you need 3 cups of coffee just to make it to the office at 9 AM, you’re a confirmed night owl. Try a work schedule that starts and ends later, such as 11 AM to 7 PM, to leverage your periods of greatest alertness.

    5. Task-Based Block Schedule

    Switching tasks consumes a lot of mental energy. For example, it takes roughly 25 minutes to regain flow after a distraction! Combat mental fatigue and encourage deep work by breaking work into blocks of similar tasks, such as two hours of finalizing new hire paperwork followed by two hours of onboarding and 30 minutes of answering emails.

    6. Interval-Based Agenda

    An alternative to the task-based schedule, time-based blocking encourages working for optimal intervals—usually 25 minutes—and then taking breaks of 15 to 30 minutes for mental recuperation. Also known as the Pomodoro Technique, this productivity-boosting work schedule is perfect for those who are easily distracted or tend to procrastinate.

    7. Split Shift

    Do you experience a huge afternoon slump? It could just be in your biology. The perfect schedule for your body may be a split shift, where you put in half your day in the morning and finish up in the late afternoon or early evening. A break in the middle enables you to relax, rejuvenate, and come back to the office refreshed.

    Having the right schedule can make a huge difference in your productivity or the effectiveness of your team members. Be sure to address it during the onboarding process!

    Managers, learn more about onboarding for success in our free white paper, “Building Blocks for a Perfect First Year on the Job!”

    Topics: HR
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