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How the modern day workplace is changing to accommodate ‘night owl’ employees after years of catering to ‘morning larks’




A girl fall asleep while working.
A girl fall asleep while working.
Photo by CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr Creative Commons

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“The early bird gets the worm.” “Early to bed, early to rise.”

If we believe the adages many of our parents told us when we were young, the earlier you can go to sleep and the earlier you start your day, the better off you’ll be. Don’t like to wake up early? You’re being lazy, stop wasting your day. And good luck getting a day job, most of which begin between 7 and 9 a.m.

That’s all great if you’re the kind of person who lives for a 4:45 a.m. jog, but if you’re the type who prefers to burn the midnight oil and find yourself simply unable to leap out of bed in the morning to vie for the worm with the other early birds, the traditional 9-5 working hours might not jive with your body clock. And that’s OK, because the science says late sleepers aren’t all deadbeats who party too late, but that some of them simply aren’t wired for early morning functionality.

Thanks to more companies opening up to the idea of telecommuting or working remotely during non-traditional work hours, more and more workplaces are shedding the notion that business can only be conducted between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Internet-equipped smartphones allow us to check our email, drop in on meetings, and even work on shared projects remotely and at times when the office might be empty.

If you’re a night owl, have you had to make arrangements with your employer to help accommodate your schedule? Was your employer receptive to making the changes? How else have you seen your workplace shifting to accommodate other night owl-types? If you own or manage a business, have you made any changes to workplace culture to help accommodate?

Guests:

Roger Cheng, executive editor for CNET News; he tweets @RogerWCheng

David Heinemeier Hansson, programmer and author of the book “Remote: Office Not Required” (2013, Currency)