Gone are the days of the standard 9-to-5 workday for many in the US. Say hello to the “triple peak” workday. The pandemic and its effects on work have reconfigured the white-collar employee’s workday in many ways, including by changing what time of day they’re working. Managers are reporting a “dead zone” from 4 pm to 6 pm, when workers are signing off early before logging on again later to wrap up their work for the day, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Workers are using the time to run errands, pick up their kids, commute home before rush hour, or use the time for leisurely purposes, like hitting the golf course.
The result is a “triple peak” day, as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson reported last April. In a study that year, Microsoft researchers found that their employees previously exhibited two productivity peaks in a day, as measured by keyboard activity, one around 11 am and the other around 3 pm. But roughly 30% of Microsoft employees in the study now had a third productivity peak in the day, around 10 pm.
The shifting schedule can have positive and negative consequences for workers. You can imagine the effect on collaboration if your colleagues need something from you, but you won’t be back on until after they’ve all logged off for the day. As Colette Stallbaumer, general manager of Microsoft’s Future of Work initiative, told the Journal, “How do we make it so that my flexibility isn’t your challenge?”
But for those whose work is more solitary or not as time-sensitive, the triple peak day may offer a pathway to greater work-life balance. Working parents, for example, might adopt a triple peak day to spend more time with their kids during the day and finish work once their kids are off to bed. Still, the schedule could further blur the lines between your home life and work if you end up working longer than you would have in your standard workday.
“Every single person on a team has a different context within which they’re trying to be productive,” said Mary Czerwinski, a research manager at Microsoft who worked on the triple peak day study. “You have to give everyone space to do it on their terms. Some of them might have babies, some of them have teenagers, some of them might not have kids, but they work best at night,” she said. “Some are in another time zone and are asynchronous. The key is, they can all be productive, but they have to do it in a way and at a time that’s personalized. It’s all over the place in terms of how you can be your original self at work and really contribute.

Business Insider


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