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Working hours is bird hours

I’m fortunate enough to be self-employed, allowing freedom to set my own working hours. Most of my career, I have been an employee working a standard day. Two thirds of workers prefer to start and end their working day earlier than the traditional 9am to 5pm. Every day, 21m people work nine to five, but we all have different sleep-wake patterns. Are you an early morning worker (lark) or work better in the evening (owl)?

working hours

Work the numbers

A recent survey by YouGov, found that 25% of respondents are larks as the best time to start work was 8am and finish at 4pm. Another 13% said they would prefer to work 8.30am to 4.30pm, while 10% favoured 7am to 3pm.

The great lie-in

Nearly one in five people aged 18 to 24 said they wanted to start work after 9am. This rose to 25% of all ages working in London, as they would avoid overcrowded public transport during the rush hour. Having commuted through the rush-hour for 27 years, I concur much of the time was standing room only.

Ignoring work hours, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 10% of us believe that we are "overemployed", meaning that we work more hours than we want to.

So how can businesses adapt?

Our internal body clock is a natural process governed by circadian rhythms that regulate levels of energy and alertness throughout the day. The average employee will take a few hours after arriving to reach peak alertness around noon. This peak then subsides until around 3pm. After this low, alertness tends to increase again until a second peak at 6pm. Does this sound familiar?

Today’s managers are learning to measure on results rather than presentism. Many of us no longer regard workplace flexibility as a reward; we expect it. Many businesses are using flexible workspace and a new working patterns to embrace a culture of different working hours.

Whether employers are ready to allow individuals to nap during the day at low low-energy points is a different post. However, HR teams should be receptive towards improved workplace wellbeing and trust employees to maximise their output on their own terms.

If you’re a manager or boss reading this post, consider allowing your owls and larks to operate in ways that suit them, as the different rhythms may boost productivity; that’s a winning thought.

ChildMax is available to both lark and owl workers as it pays their take home salary while they’re on 12 months’ unpaid leave looking after a sick child. Premiums start from £49.50 or for easy budgeting an initial payment of £8.25 followed by eleven monthly payments of £3.75. Get a quote with 5 questions which takes one minute.

Visit at or call the UK call centre 0333 323 0098 for more information.


Date: 26 February 2018 by Max Robinson