According to research from Microsoft, this has led to the emergence of a “triple peak day,” with some employees commencing work as late as 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. Traditionally, people envision the workday occurring from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, the pandemic has made it clear that the boundaries between work and life have blurred significantly. Morning meetings now happen at the breakfast table, presentations precede school pickups, and quiet work evenings can occur whenever there’s a chance.
The pandemic and the surge in remote work disrupted many individuals’ established working hours as they adapted to the absence of a commute, varied aspects of childcare and caregiving, and other factors.
The traditional 9-to-5 workday is diminishing in the era of remote and hybrid work, giving way to more flexible hours. This shift was initially observed during the early stages of the pandemic when Microsoft Teams chats outside regular work hours, especially between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., saw a notable increase.
The study, which observed 50 willing Microsoft employees over a four-week period, characterizes these productivity peaks by tracking the total number of keyboard events.
According to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index, the average workday duration for Microsoft Teams users has increased by over 13% since March 2020, accompanied by a rise in after-hours work (28%) and weekend work (14%).
This transformed workday raises the question of how employers should respond. Shamsi Iqbal, a principal researcher of productivity and intelligence at Microsoft Research and Microsoft Viva Insights, notes that this third peak raises the question, “Is this about flexibility, or is it about work intruding into someone’s personal hours?”
Is The Triple Peak Day a Good Sign or Bad?
Does the triple peak day trend simply mean that workers are making the most of flexible schedules to work when and how it suits them best?
Additional data presents a less-than-rosy picture of post-pandemic work. It indicates that the blending of work and personal life in remote settings has led to a significant increase in meetings and an overall extension of the workday by an hour or two (depending on the source). People aren’t just changing how they work; on average, they’re working more and often less efficiently.
Sometimes, the triple peak day doesn’t signify optimized productivity but rather reveals the erosion of boundaries and suboptimal work practices.
How Can Managers Embrace the Triple Peak Day?
Every employee faces unique needs and challenges, some of which might be the driving force behind their round-the-clock work efforts.
It’s crucial to delve deeper into their individual situations to comprehend the reasons behind the triple peak day trend and their extended work hours. During your next one-on-one meeting, casually explore their working patterns and inquire about the factors leading to late-night work.
If there’s something within your control, such as their workload, you may have the opportunity to implement measures to lighten their burden or alleviate some of their responsibilities.
To prevent potential employee burnout resulting from these extended work hours during the third peak, you can consider the following measures:
Establish Clear Norms: Managers should collaborate with their teams to define explicit norms that promote sustainable working practices. This involves creating a shared understanding of expectations regarding working hours, breaks, and time off. These norms can serve as guidelines to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Regular Check-Ins: Employers need to regularly check in with their employees to gauge their well-being and ensure they don’t feel compelled to work incessantly to keep up with their workloads. Open communication channels help in identifying challenges early on and finding collaborative solutions.
Use of Scheduling Tools: Teams should collectively agree on the usage of scheduling tools. This ensures that there is a mutual respect for time. addressing the issue of round-the-clock responsiveness and fostering a culture of respect for personal time.
Can a Workforce Management Software Help Embrace the Triple Peak Day?
In a triple peak day, the emphasis is on the output rather than adhering to a specific timeframe for employees’ working hours. The focus is on maintaining team productivity and preventing burnout while meeting work requirements within set hours.
Workforce management software provides actionable insights into workforce dynamics, enabling the formation of engaged and profitable teams. Workforce management tools, such as time clock apps, offer visibility into how the team allocates their time, facilitating a better understanding of whether they might be stretched thin.
Managers equipped with this level of transparency can efficiently monitor and regulate their team’s time usage. Additionally, a highly customizable platform allows you to build your own workflow that suits your business needs better.
With the appropriate tools in place, managers can guide their teams to leverage their most productive energy at the optimal times, ultimately leading to favorable outcomes for everyone involved.
To sum up, the triple peak workday shows a change in focus on getting work done rather than sticking strictly to set working hours. Managers should be flexible and set clear guidelines. Regular check-ins, using tools like allGeo’s time clock app, can help manage time effectively and avoid burnout.
By being open and planning ahead, managers can help teams work at their best times, creating a healthy work atmosphere. This flexible and understanding approach is crucial in today’s changing work setup, supporting both individuals and the whole team in being successful.