Gone are the days of a normal 9 to 5. The office is no longer limited to four walls as more companies embrace hybrid work environments. What does work look like outside of those four walls? And is the best work happening during “working hours?”

It turns out that when we’re working has as big of an impact on productivity as where we’re working. As we expand our idea of what an office looks like, we need to consider what schedules work best for our teams.

When are people working?

Research shows that people live on different circadian rhythms. The “night owl” is real! So how can people bring their full selves to work if they’re working against their own circadian rhythm?

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Companies are taking note—and adjusting their policies to make work work for their people. Dropbox, Slack, and Calendly all have “core working hours” in place for that reason. These core hours limit meetings to a shared four hour block in a day where all time zones overlap. This leaves the rest of the day for focused work, managed on each individual’s own time. So your morning birds can get their tasks done ahead of the meeting block, while your night owls can get to the deep work after the meetings. And no overtired workers feel like they aren’t bringing their best selves to the table.

When we asked employees what they wanted from the future of work, 72% indicated that they were interested in core hours—37% of those people were very interested, in fact. As we look toward building the “next normal,” giving employees the work (and sleep) schedule that aligns best with them is the way to move forward.

Companies with flexible working hours

Flexible working hours are not new—in fact, the US Department of Labor reported more than 25% of workers had flexible schedules all the way back in 2001. So we can take a lesson from the companies that have been doing it for over 20 years just as much as the companies that are implementing new policies today.

Slack’s core hours terms are specific:

All employees have a “home” team with core hours tied to that team’s time zone and should have team-level agreements that blend time together with meeting-free zones.

For example, collaboration hours (10 a.m.–2 p.m.), maker hours (9 a.m.–11 a.m., Tuesday–Thursday) or no-meeting times.

Dropbox’s Core Collaboration Hours (CCH) are company-wide time blocks designated for collaborative work. Their policy:

Everyone at Dropbox gets a “home” time zone based on the region they live in. Their core hours live within that zone. Outside of CCHs, Dropboxers can decline meetings and build their calendars around how and when they work best.

What would a core hours policy look like for your company? Is everyone in the same time zone? Or would those home hours differ by location? Does everyone prefer to work in-office, at home, or a hybrid mix? Your team location and dynamics should be a major consideration in building out core hours company wide.

Do hybrid and flexible policies work?

Building flextime for your employees gives your team freedom to work with their own peaks and valleys. The CEO who maps out business strategies from 1am to 3am may not be in top shape to lead an executive meeting at 8:30am. And the operations assistant who ran 10 kilometers and then recorded a podcast before the 9am meeting may need peace and quiet after 3pm.

Flexible companies recognize those polar working styles and bridge the two at their most efficient. So when the operations assistant comes to the CEO with a brilliant idea at 12pm, they’re both energized and clear headed and ready to put that plan into action. 

84% of workers are interested in flexible policies that will not require them to be in the office at specific times. Companies need to find new ways to satisfy that demand. Building clear and applicable hybrid workplace policies can take your business to the next level and tap into your talent at their highest peaks.

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