The 9 to 5 job is no longer the only option in today’s world.
None of us would have even dreamt of the life we lived over the past couple of years. We experienced several transitions in doing things; we gained new opportunities and lost many of them. When we talk about work, 6-feet cubicles have been reduced to 15-inch displays as the concept of remote work has become mainstream.
The pandemic presented us with a blend of work and life, and it became almost impossible to separate the two—we no longer had 9-5 jobs. Instead, people worked throughout the day and across different hours from breakfast until bedtime at night!
The world is starting to return to the pre-pandemic era, but the pandemic has accelerated remote work trends. It is cost-effective for employers and employees, and its flexibility has escalated productivity levels. Several organizations have adopted or are planning to shift to remote work, considering positive experiences during the pandemic. This has also led to the growth of the triple peak day, as mentioned in a report by Microsoft.
What is a triple peak day?
Previously, white-collar employees experienced two productive periods during the day: before and immediately after lunch. The pandemic drove many people to work from home, where they have to juggle personal life and work. This has resulted in a third peak in terms of work hours, particularly between 6 pm to 8 pm, at night before bedtime. Microsoft’s researchers have dubbed this phenomenon “triple peak day”.
Having analyzed “keyboard events” of their employees across the company, Microsoft found that employees increasingly work outside traditional office hours. According to the report, 30 percent of its employees worked more at night now, although the modest rise in keyboard activity was far less than typical work periods (or the first two peaks). This suggests that many employees work more at night, either from home or the office.
What prompts the new way of working?
The rapid growth of technology and digital communication tools, such as virtual offices in the metaverse and remote surveillance systems, is leading to the end of traditional 9-5 jobs. These new advancements make it easier for workers to stay connected outside normal business hours, creating even more opportunities for flexible working models, like triple peak day.
The new model of working allows workers to take advantage of the times when they are most alert and productive. Additionally, it provides a much-needed break from the monotony of the traditional workweek. According to a January 2022 Future Forum Pulse Survey, 95 percent of employees want flexibility regarding their schedule instead of the location.
One of the reasons why people prefer flexibility has to do with the additional family responsibility added to employees due to the pandemic. Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum, claims that people don’t want an entire workday of meetings. Instead, he says that workers desire flexibility and the ability to turn off their notifications when appropriate.
It could be the caregivers who want the freedom to log out at 3 pm and come back later in the evening when their kids are asleep to get some peace to focus on important work tasks. At the end of the day, people want not just a rigid schedule but more opportunities for autonomy and control over their workdays.
Decoding the dark side of flexible work hours
While this new way of working may seem like a dream come true for some workers, it can also pose productivity and work-life balance challenges. Another Microsoft report discovered that the workday span (time between the first and last meeting or chat of the day) for the average Microsoft Teams user has expanded by 46 minutes, a 13 percent increase since the pandemic. It further added that after-hours and weekend work has grown by 28 percent and 14 percent. Many workers are now working longer hours, which could lead to burnout.
In April 2022, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, warned people about the dangers of late-night emails and divided the lines between work and personal life. He expressed concern that the ever-increasing working day, which now encompasses late night, might negatively impact employees’ well-being. “We know what stress does to workers.
We need to learn soft skills and good old-fashioned management practices to ensure people’s well-being. I can set that expectation, that our people can get an email from the CEO on the weekend and not feel that they have to respond,” he said.
While Nadella did not specifically mention any plans to change Microsoft’s policies, his remarks suggest that he is aware of the potential negative consequences of the trend toward ever-longer working days. With any luck, his public acknowledgment of the issue will help to spark a broader conversation about productivity and work-life balance.
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