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Why non-linear workdays are changing employee productivity

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago

An increasing number of employees are separating their workdays into chunks of a few hours at a time, and embracing flexibility, and this is a reflection of the changing workday. For as long as most people can remember, the workday has started at 9am and ended at 5pm. There’s an hour for lunch around midday, but everyone works for roughly the same amount of time, during the same standard working hours. However, the pandemic changed this.

Now, a lot of people are working remotely, and this has led to a significant change in how work is being done. There is now a non-linear workday, which sees employees doing their job outside of the standard 9am to 5pm working hours. By choosing their own hours, which could differ hugely from their colleagues, workers are completing tasks in a flexible way. Workdays are now organised around personal lives and quick bursts of activity, rather than specific contracted hours.

The rise of non-linear workdays

Non-linear workdays are more common than ever before, and this is because they are more attainable. With flexible schedules and remote working, a lot of people are able to work in a way that suits them. As non-linear workdays are set to increase in popularity, it’s time for employers to give employees the freedom to take advantage.

There are many benefits that come with embracing a non-linear workday. For example, it gives employees more control over how they spend their time. But, a non-linear workday is not a completely new concept. It’s actually in line with how people worked pre-industrially, from dusk until dawn, with regular breaks. As society industrialised, the 40 hour week that we are now used to fell into favour. Instead of logging on and working for eight or nine hours straight, employees can break up their day in a way that is more productive for them.

This all changed in the pandemic, with many workers showing that they can be productive whilst taking breaks, working flexible hours and spending time with loved ones. According to experts, non-linear workdays have grown in popularity because this is what people are now used to. Workers got used to having flexible working routines throughout the pandemic, and they are not keen to change things.

Of course, many employees were working somewhat non-linearly before the pandemic; answering emails outside or work hours, finishing projects at home, and completing unpaid overtime.

Finding the balance between non-linear working and overwork

It’s hoped that by introducing non-linear workdays on a more formal level, a balance will be found between productivity and overworking. Finding the perfect balance is key, and it could help to prevent employee burnout. With fewer restraints, workers are likely to embrace a non-linear way of working, and improve their own work/life balance.

A lot of current non-linear workdays are in the tech industry, with many startups adopting flexible schedules and remote working. Though non-linear workdays are currently less common in larger, established companies, it’s likely that this will change as the job market changes. With more people looking for non-linear working, employers will need to shake things up in order to attract top talent.

Non-linear workdays are already popular in tech

According to a JAM poll focusing on those working in tech, non-linear workdays are growing in prevalence because of job market demand, with more workers looking for greater flexibility and autonomy.

It's important to note that it's not just remote work that makes non-linear workdays in tech possible, but a whole host of other things that goes alongside this type of workday. It's remote work combined with asynchronous communication, few meetings, and a culture where you are not judged on when you get the work done, as long as you get it done.

We found that 42% of respondents are currently working a non-linear work week, and 25% said they would like to be offered this type of work in the future. If you are losing candidates due to your offering of flexible working, a non-linear approach could be the solution to bag the top candidates out there.