Working Hours Based on Personal Working Cycle?

Paul Hebert Paul Hebert, Performance, Pop Culture, Talent Strategy, The HR Profession

Editor’s note: This is the first of three in a series of posts we’ll be running at FOT about workplace productivity, based on a national poll conducted by Red Bull and Harris Interactive. FOT + Red Bull = pretty interesting.

A national poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Red Bull North America surveyed U.S. workers and exposes lack of energy as a primary obstacle to productivity in the workplace. While I don’t think this is groundbreaking research the breakdown of the data is somewhat humorous.

The study showed that 4% of American employees report being tired after just one hour of work. One freaking hour! Who are these people and which clubs did they go to last night. Speaking of clubs the “yutes” in today’s workforce are feeling the pinch of burning the candle at both ends with those between 18-54 years old (I know – wide, wide range) feeling less productive in the first 3 hours of the day than those over 55 years old. Funny that by not staying up all night partying might just have an impact on your productivity the next day. Who knew?

2013 Rhythm Nation Redux

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Pet Rocks you probably remember Biorhythms. Calculating and following your biorhythm was a craze when I was much, much younger. The concept was that the human body had predictable rhythms across three basic areas – physical, emotional and intellectual. Each of these areas had their own cycle and as a human you had good emotional days and bad, good intellectual days and bad, etc. Each of the areas had a different cycle time so it is possible to have a day where you are operating at peak physical efficiency and effectiveness (that’s the day to run the marathon) but you could also be having a low “intellectual” day – not the day to do the big open heart surgery.

But… some days you’d have all three cycles peaking at the same time – and then it’s watch out Superman! Pauley is in da house! What day is it! It’s Pauley Day! What, what!

An example of a biorhythm looks like this:

biorhythm example

Personal Rhythm and Working Hours

When I saw the results from the Red Bull survey all I could think of is the fact that all of us have a cycle of performance – each of us operates on our own internal performance clock. I know for a fact I crank out a ton of work from 5:00 am – 1:00 pm – but am a basket case from 1:00 pm on. It’s just not my best time. I haven’t tried an energy drink to see if that has an impact on my afternoon energy levels. Have you? See, I find that afternoon time the best time for thinking and letting the mind wander. That’s a different work – and some may say a more important work re: innovation.

So my thought was – if the survey from Red Bull and Harris Interactive shows that people are more and less productive at different times – should we allow for really, really flexible hours? Could you let someone work for 3 hours – leave for 2, come back for 3 and leave for 3 and come back and wrap up the day with 1 more hour?

And if the answer was no… how do you know they aren’t already doing it but simply not leaving the office? They work for an hour- then go chat it up with co-workers, hit the fantasy football site on their smart phone and kill some time before their energy ramps back up.

If nothing else this survey shows that we need to really think through how productivity really happens in our companies and leverage it.

Imagine if we put biorhythms at the top of our interview list instead of DISC profiles. What if we hired based on when everyone’s different cycles matched up? How cool and how new-age, old-age would that be.

For those of you who care – below is my actual biorhythm for today. Not going to do that marathon but I am going to kill that calculus puzzle I’ve been saving!

Paul BioRhythm