New rules for late-night workers

Christopher Gang was hired in April 2020 as a software engineer for Cured, a healthcare technology startup. Since college, he has been doing his best until late at night. In his new, completely remote role, without office commuting, he accepted this fact for the first time in his professional life.

“My sweet spot is 2 or 3 am, but if I’m in a flow, I’m only awake until 6 or 7 am,” says a 24-year-old in Dallas. However, he stayed up late for about three months.

“Even if you work late, you don’t tell it,” he says. He believes there is a stigma for latecomers that can affect their professional status. “But with the trust of the manager, I have more flexibility.” Now he burns oil openly at midnight and is not worried if his colleagues know it.

In the era of working from home, many jobs have never been so freed from the 9: 5 paradigm. And many late-nighters who do their best work later in the day are thriving.

However, it is not open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many newly liberated late-life workers, such as Mr. Gang, are navigating how to balance their habits with their bosses and colleagues who work on a more traditional daytime schedule. They are also trying to avoid burnout.

Staying up late isn’t just about personal taste. People are actually more likely to wake up at different chronotypes, or at certain times of the day, based on the body’s circadian rhythm. A 2020 survey of 8,395 Chinese found that about 17% showed “evening” chronotypes and 11% showed “morning” chronotypes. Other studies from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the Czech Republic have revealed similar bias in staying up late in certain populations more than in the morning lark.

Elise Facer Childs, a sleep researcher at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, created a “surprising real-life experiment to observe” last year with a pandemic blockade and a stay-at-home order around the world. .. “In general, what we see is that as people are given more flexibility, they change schedules a bit later,” she says.

She says that much of her work involves raising awareness about chronotype differences. Traditional office schedules, on the other hand, can sometimes be hostile.

Many workers who once suffered say they were relieved this year.

Megan Instagram, a digital strategist and lifelong night owl in Washington, DC, said last summer’s midnight strategic session gave him the courage to launch his own consulting firm in September.

Megan Ingram says a late-night strategic session helped launch her own consulting business in September.

Image by Breezy

“I’m busy with meetings during the day, so I do a lot of creative hard work at night,” she says. “After spending a few nights late to write a business plan, Domino fell from there.”

Many other pandemic night owls are parents, especially toddler parents, who appreciate their ability to work in the second half of the era of distance learning and diminished day care.

“Because I had a daughter just before the pandemic began, the tendency to stay up late helped ease the burden on my partner,” says Jeffrey Baker, voice actor and animator in Kennesaw, Georgia. March.

Jeffrey Baker takes care of young children during the day, so he tends to work on animation late at night.

Hollywood Headshot, Backhead, Georgia

He says he is honest with his boss at a casino company that works as an animator for both his schedule preferences and his responsibility for childcare during the day. “They know that I work mostly at night,” he says. His peak working hours are from 10 pm to 2 am.

Andrea Valeria, a career specialist for remote workers based in Mexico City, says transparency is essential for late-night workers wherever they are. “You have to be very open about your business hours in advance,” she says. (She usually starts her working day at 2pm)

Andrea Valeria, a telecommuting specialist, says it’s imperative to communicate your schedule preferences to your team.

J. Elizabeth Photo

The Dallas gang adds that being a good night owl employee has a learning curve and it’s important to maintain a good appearance with colleagues.

“In a few early meetings, I might have woken up just minutes before after pulling in the middle of the night, but the video conferencing still had this” sleeping fog “on my face.” He admits. “If I had my first meeting at 11 or 12 o’clock, I could get up an hour ago and have time to refresh and have a cup of coffee.”

For night owls, where meetings tend to start earlier than noon, add your favorite evening working hours to the full slate of daytime meetings with colleagues and constantly send Slack messages so far Longer working days may be created. Ingram avoids sending emails late at night so clients don’t expect her to be available all the time.

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Some latecomers will have to face the opposite problem when returning to their traditional offices around the world after vaccination. For them, it’s not impossible to readjust their body clocks, says sleep researcher Dr. Facer-Childs. She helped perform a 2019 study of 22 night owls and was able to bring her sleep cycle back by about two hours over a three-week period.

Her team had some lifestyle changes, such as eating breakfast shortly after waking up, avoiding caffeine after 3 pm, and maximizing exposure to outdoor light in the morning, all early for participants. I found it useful for awakening. She warns that night owls will try similar changes and give them time to adjust.

Most subjects found the first week to be the most difficult, says Dr. Facer-Childs. I have that in mind the unruly night owl that finished the draft of this column around 11:00 pm.

Work wisely at night

Work and sleep professionals and skilled night-night workers suggest some best practices for those who want to continue working in the second half of 2021 with minimal drama.

Email schedule: You can use apps and features such as Boomerang for Gmail and Outlook Delayed Messages to send an email hours or days after you compose it.

Tell your taste: Tell your boss or colleagues that you tend to work late. That way, you won’t notice that you’re using the tools in a spreadsheet at midnight.

Set boundaries. If you work while others are sleeping, you may need downtime during the day. Ingram tends to schedule two “no-call” days a week without morning meetings, so not only can he always have a very long day, but he can get off to a really late start.

Work upwards. Even in the era of working from home, setting the desired schedule can be privileged, so be aware of your role, performance, and work history before seeking concessions such as reducing the number of morning meetings. ..

Write to Krithika Varagur ([email protected])

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