I recently read a Guardian article about extreme night owls, which got me thinking. How many of us are now working from home, and finding out new things about how we work best? My guess is a lot of us!
If you’ve recently begun remote working, your daily schedule is probably one of the first things which shifted. The article focuses on people whose natural rhythms (or “chronotype”, as it’s apparently called) make them prefer to go to bed and wake up later than most of us. For these extreme night owls, working from home can be a godsend. Even if your workplace still requires you to be at your computer 9–5 every day, just removing the commute can mean a hefty extra chunk of time in bed. And of course, the relief is even more profound if you’re now allowed to work any hours, so long as you get everything done.
You might think that sounds lazy, like these people are just after a lie in. But as pointed out in the article, extreme night owls really do seem to be wired differently, and by shifting their working day later they tend to be much more focused, productive and happy. And of course, the inverse is also true – there are certainly some morning larks out there who are rejoicing about being able to start work at 7 instead of 9 or 10. In both cases, they may find the quality and speed of their work is much better when they can adjust their working hours.
All this made me think, what else might people be discovering about their work style while they’re out of the office, especially in these strange circumstances? Perhaps that they work much better with peace and quiet, rather than office chatter? Or that their motivation wanes without other people around? Maybe that they spend far too much time in meetings usually – or too little? (Honestly, I’ve rarely heard anyone say they want more time in meetings, but I’m sure someone must!)
For some women, especially, working at home with their partner has made a few things starkly clear. I’ve heard from more than one person who’s realised she really does do much more than her male partner when it comes to domestic chores and childcare. She’ll be the one to pause in her work to go help set up an online class, to handle most at-home teaching, to sort out groceries and cooking, to clean… When both partners are in the house all the time, it seems that it’s easier to spot these patterns.
Of course, I hasten to add that this isn’t the case in every household – but this forced, prolonged proximity is certainly revealing a lot!
So if you’re now working from home, what have you found out about yourself? And how will it affect your post-lockdown life? Many companies will probably be more open to flexible working requests in future, having now thoroughly tested their remote working systems. Will you be taking advantage of that, asking to work from home or at different hours? Or are you very ready to get out of your house and back to the office?