A non-linear workday means that employees can move between work and non-work time on an asynchronous schedule.
The non-linear workday creates a schedule that fits around employees’ personal lives, opposed to cramming work tasks into fixed, contracted hours. The non-linear workday can improve employee wellbeing and increase productivity of those that it suits.
Not every employer will give workers this degree of freedom. But in the new world of work, non-linear workdays are set to take a more prominent role in some jobs and sectors.
According to experts, there are myriad benefits of working asynchronously.
Wellbeing and Productivity
The non-linear workday allows employees to get tasks done at the time that suits them best – when they have the most energy or by fitting it around personal responsibilities.
Non-Linear working also allows some employees to study or reskill for their job. These factors relieve stress from employees and can make them the most productive when they are working.
Like real-time pay, a non-linear job can also attract and retain top talent as it can be appealing to many people with busy schedules.
Laura Giurge, assistant professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, says that:
“Asynchronous work allows people to save commuting time, get admin tasks done during low productivity hours, fit in more exercise and save money having home-cooked meals,”.
In 2022 McKinsey carried out a study of 13,382 global workers, 40% said workplace flexibility was a top motivator for whether they stayed in a role.
Businesses can make the transition easier for employees by using tools in the correct way.
For example, scrapping some real time meetings and creating memos instead. Another way businesses can support the shift to a non-linear schedule is through easily accessible documentation that is organised, thorough and searchable.
This allows employees to find relevant documentation when colleagues are unavailable.
Employees can get started by deciding core work hours (predesignated times) when team members will agree to be online and available for meetings or feedback. This still gives employees flexibility of a non-linear schedule; however, it puts a framework in place to keep everyone up to date and organised. Employees should also communicate with the team regularly by using slack notifications and scheduling tools to make the team aware of their availability.
The non-linear workday has pros and cons to businesses who adopt it.
On one hand it can improve employee’s wellbeing through the freedom and flexibility to work when suits them best, which can improve productivity. However, on the other hand a non-linear workday means employees have less support than they would in a 9-5 job, as their schedules will be out of sync with colleagues.
Another con to the non-linear workday is that it requires self-discipline, a non-linear workday means employees aren’t monitored as closely, potentially making it harder for them to focus and get work done, diminishing productivity.
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