In defense of the non-linear workday
Updated: Dec 30, 2022
I’ve always been a fan of the non-linear workday for my startup. In the tech industry, where a majority of work does not require strict hours, it's a huge luxury that shouldn't be overlooked. To not take advantage of this isn’t just outdated, but less productive.
Flexibility allows for peak performance, as it enables us to work during the hours when we are most focused and free of distractions. This allows us to accomplish so much more than if we were forced to work when we aren't at our best.
The luxury of getting errands done with more availability, going to the grocery store or gym when it's not as crowded, and more flexibility in our personal lives makes for happier, more motivated employees.
Because random things come up in life. We are not robots. The notion that everything a person must do outside of work is expected to be handled outside of 9-5 requires sacrifices and making inconvenient schedules that just lead to less productivity and more burnout.
Encouraging asynchronous work, while establishing clear weekly responsibilities and ownership can really enhance our sense of belonging and passion for the work we do. On the other hand, forcing certain behaviors and work hours is a recipe for someone hating their job. I don't think it's a stretch to say that a team full of people who hate their jobs is not a high-performing team.
However, it's important to note that adopting a non-linear workday also comes with some challenges if you are considering this for your team as a CEO or manager.
This does introduce the chance that the lines can gray between work and personal life. Especially when adopted among an entire team. This can result in unexpected messages or pings at inappropriate times, especially in fast-paced startup environments where there is a lot of collaboration and dependence on others.
This is where it’s important to maintain some hybrid level of structure. Limiting meetings and collaborative work to scheduled times during reasonable hours is something I’ve discovered must be carefully managed when adopting a non-linear work day.
It also requires a large amount of trust and communication between you and your team. If you also work with a hybrid or fully remote team, I would advise being very diligent in management. One of my favorite ways to stay connected with my team is through weekly one on ones with everyone on my team. We are only 7, which makes this very manageable, but this is something I plan to continue for as long as I possibly can.
While a 9-5 schedule may be necessary for a lot of professions, if you have the option to allow for a non-linear workday, why not give it a try?
Heck sometimes I’m most productive between 1-3am and that can be my favorite time to some individual work done… and sometimes the only time I am not constantly interrupted by my team 😄
Happy holidays everyone!