I’ve been part of Remote Year’s Darien class now for 8+ months. For those of you who don’t know what Remote Year is, it’s a program that brings 75 professionals together to live, work and travel alongside one another through 12 cities over 12 months. To read more about some of my initial thoughts on the value of program you can read this post from Prague.

One of the more illuminating professional revelations I’ve had over these months is how valuable it is to work during your peak productive hours. This seems like an obvious statement, but our “traditional” work day is set up as a one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. You need to be a morning person to thrive and everyone else is left in an endless cycle of coffee-induced manias and crashes just to maintain, not excel.

The value of finding your own productivity window started to become apparent early on in this journey. While in Europe we were between 5-6 hours ahead of our East Coast counterparts, so I naturally had a late start to my day. I’d start around 11am/12pm and work through until I was done that evening. With that extra time in the morning I was able to more naturally wake up, go for a run, have a leisurely breakfast, wander my new neighborhood and gather some inspiration through new experiences (e.g., art museum, sitting in a park). I found myself arriving at the office ready to get down to work - ideas flowed faster, problems were solved with ease and overall my mood was much more positive. I was working better and more efficiently.

While I knew I wasn’t a prototypical morning person, I also didn’t consider myself not a morning person. However, I’ve come to realize that I work better with a bit of a cushion to start my day, hitting my stride mid-morning/early afternoon and peaking by early evening. A traditional work day had never quite aligned with my optimal performance before. Now back on East Coast hours in South America, I still try to accommodate this cushion so the morning hours can be spent with a more personal, leisurely focus, setting me up for a more productive day into the evening.

Employers looking to not only increase productivity, but also attract new talent, should consider giving employees the freedom to plan their days around their own productivity windows. Working with K Street Partners has given me this freedom, but it requires two key things to be successful:

  • Emphasize Open, Well-Documented Communication. By clearly setting expectations and availability to the team – while always being reasonably available for the team overall – deliverable timeframes won’t be impacted, no matter when people are working.
  • Focus on Evaluating Employee Results, Not Perceived Effort. The time you spend on a deliverable does not dictate its quality. Often employees are judged for leaving early, but if their work is done and it’s done effectively, it’s done. Trust your employees to do what needs to be done and move on to the next thing.

“Culture doesn’t grow because of an unblinking gaze by a manager with direct line of sight over his underlings. Quite the contrary. - David Heinemeier Hansson

If you’re looking for further reading, my opinions on this topic were reinforced after recently reading a great article on working remotely from Yan Lhert - check it out here. Additionally, I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the topic? What is your peak productivity window? Email me at nfico@kstreet.co. We can chat about this or any other topics related to the future of work!