The Variable Hour Work Day

Last week, I wrote about the detrimental effects of excess cortisol from external stressors. To sum that article, excess cortisol can be cause to chronic injuries, stress, and eventually depression. One of the leading causes of depression and stress is the workplace. If you are involved in management, have direct reports, or oversee others, I want to challenge your stereotypical work day and work week. I want you to try something new, something which will increase your employees’ moral, reduce your turnover, and actually increase productivity.

In Georgia, full time is considered 37.5 hours per week. This is five eight hour days with a 30- minute lunch break. Because of this scheduling, most employers end up running the 9-5 work day. There is nothing inherently wrong with this schedule, but I want to challenge you to break this monotony. Try something new – allow your employees to set their own hours (within reason).

 I know of businesses in California doing something similar. They created a three-shift model where employees can either come in during “east coast hours” from 6 am – 2pm local time, “standard hours” from 9am-5pm local time, or “after hours” from 12 pm – 8 pm local time. This allows for these businesses to accomplish several things:

  1. More people in the office throughout the day, leading to increased total availability.  this allows for the morning shift to easily work with the east coast and Europe. The late shift group can easily work with Asia.

  2. Increased Moral. By allowing employees to select their shift, your employees are more able to engage in their hobbies and recreational activities outside of work. It also provides a sense of autonomy, contributing toward a sense of fulfillment.

  3. Increased Productivity. By increasing the moral of the office, your employees are likely to be more motivated to complete task and get more accomplished throughout the day.

 Essentially, small to medium size businesses are able to make themselves seem bigger as they have a presence in the office for 14 hours a day compared to eight. Lastly, because employees have higher moral, the rate of productivity and the quality of work will rise. This leads to a better product and less overtime required. In a study by Workplace Dynamics, they found employees with high moral were 22% more productive than those with low morale.

 Here is how I want you to implement this system.

  1. Use it as a reward. Allow certain employees the right to schedule their own hours at first, then expand or reduce as needed. Remember, these people who work for you and under you have made it this far in their life already. They do not need management holding their hand or micromanaging their schedules.

  2. Set standards. I.e. meetings are to be scheduled during certain hours, ensure deadlines are in writing and confirmed, and be available.

  3. Start slowly at first. For the first week, working hours can be between 8:00 am through 6 pm, then a week later expand it to 7:30AM – 7 PM, then 7 AM – 8 PM, 6:30 AM – 9 PM and eventually 6 AM – 10 PM

 Why do I feel this is worth an article?

 This is all in the name of giving your employees or co-workers respect and increasing moral, through the reduction of stress and the demeaning attitude shown in the workplace. By showing your employees that you trust them and allowing them to set their own schedules, rather than feel forced into a pattern, you are able to reduce the stress placed on people.

 Now, the mother who has to drop off the kids at school then rush into the office doesn’t have to worry about being late anymore. She can drop the kids off and get into the office at her earliest convenience, rather than stressing about trying to make it in as soon as possible.

 Others will find time to engage in lost hobbies. Finding enjoyment in these hobbies or activities can and will reduce stress levels. As stated above, when stress is reduced, moral is raised and productivity goes up. James can now come into the office at 6:00 AM, get done what he needs to get done, and be out by 2:30 to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

 This is simply about giving certain freedoms and responsibilities to people and, , seeing an increase in moral. By increasing moral, you are likely to see an increase in productivity and a decrease in turnover. I want to challenge you to try this out with your employees and see the changes in the attitudes around the office. Those who work for you and with you made it to where they are today. They do not need to have their time micromanaged by the company

George Cullen