Mischief | Traditional 9-to-5 causes 'deviant' employee behaviour

Traditional 9-to-5 causes 'deviant' employee behaviour

Mischievous employees often excuse their poor behaviour by deflecting the blame onto someone else, shrugging off their vulgar attitude as a ‘part of my biological makeup’, or attributing their sloppy work habits as a result of a bad night’s sleep. However, new research has suggested that workers may now have a legitimate excuse for their deviance at work.

New research has suggested that early birds and night owls are more likely to display 'unethical and deviant’ behavioural traits if they are forced to work outside their natural patterns.

Speaking at the Hay Festival on Monday, Science Journalist and Author Linda Geddes has subsequently called on employers to introduce flexible working schedules to accommodate for different circadian rhythms – the Guardian reports.

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Allowing employees to start and finish work when and where they want is said to boost productivity as people know when in the day they are most productive. Additionally, with obtaining a healthy work-life balance currently a hot topic in the HR space, employers are becoming more aware of the physical, mental and emotional repercussions of an overworked workforce.

Geddes explained that the different chronotypes – the behavioural manifestation of underlying daily rhythms – can be categorised into two distinct groups. Those who are up at the crack of dawn experience peaked energy and productivity in the morning, while the night owls commonly perform better later in the day. She added:

“That’s kind of a problem because research suggests if your manager is a lark and you’re a night owl, they’re going to judge your performance more poorly."

“Lark managers tend to perceive more owlish workers who start later or just don’t get going until 10am, they judge them as less competent. And if you’re an owl forced to start work early, you’re going to curb your sleep.

“And if you don’t get enough sleep, research suggests you are more likely to engage with unethical and deviant behaviour, such as being mean, bullying your fellow employees or falsifying receipts.

"But it’s not just owls: the larks tend to behave more unethically in the evening, and owls in the morning. So ideally, you want to introduce flexible working,” Geddes added citing a study published in Psychological Science.

Sleep deprivation

Additionally, it seems that repeated sleep deprivation – caused by work-related worries – has resulted in sleepless nights for nearly six million British employees on a weekly basis. The research by Rungway revealed that the number of people having restless evenings due to work-related pressures is equivalent to the population of Scotland and more.

Body clock

According to Evernote, humans run on a 24-hour internal body clock which allows us to wake up, go to sleep and be alert at salient points in the day. Although the times may differ from person to person, the 24-hour cycle – referred to as ‘circadian day’ – operates in 90-minute bursts of productivity and heightened focus. So which times during the day are the most productive?

  • 8:00am: Data has shown that people hit an ultradian cycle as soon as the working day starts. After making a coffee, answering emails and briefly chatting to your colleague, the first 90-minute burst happens.

  • 9:30am: Take a lap around the building, make a coffee and get ready for another 90-minute burst.

  • 10:00am: Feeling refreshed, head back to your desk ready for the second 90-minute burst.

  • 11:30am: After an hour and a half of productive working, turn your attention to a variety of different tasks for the next couple of hours, such as responding to emails, meeting with colleagues to discuss projects and completing more menial office tasks.

  • 3:00pm: Finish the afternoon with one more 60-minute cycle. Depending upon your preferred working patterns, this may take place later in the evening.

The key takeway for HR is that each employee operates differently, so it is a good idea to play to their strengths.

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Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Wed, 29 May 2019 12:56pm BST
    First world problems - luckily we don't all work in offices on jobs that barely matter, where such an approach may gain traction.
    Lots of jobs need to be done at particular times, not just when you fancy it because you're 'feeling a bit tired'. Next time you go to catch a train, or call for an ambulance, or switch on a lightbulb you might want to remember this.
    The Flexible Working Lobby must be getting desperate to be resorting to this kind of nonsense.

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