In the knowledge society, it is common sense, both from a human and an economic point of view, to match a person’s work hours to his or her biological rhythm. We need a paradigm shift away from the classic 9 to 5 work hours, and towards individuals having a greater say about their work hours. This will result in higher productivity, healthier employees, and a reduction in healthcare costs.
The conductor behind the rhythm of industrial work, historically must be engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor studied the movements and rhythms of the workers as they labored at the assembly lines of Henry Ford’s car factories in the early 1900s. At that time, 80 percent of a company’s material assets were machinery and buildings. In 1911, Taylor formulated the management theory “The Principles of Scientific Management”, in which he concluded that “man is stupid and lazy — therefore rules, control and discipline are necessary”. He believed that in the future, the system must come before man.
Today, by contrast, over 80 percent of a company’s value comprises the intangible values, and we must put people first and create a company-wide culture that supports our differences. There were few rhythm options in the industrial society. The problem is that the rhythm of industrial society does not fit the actual diversity of circadian rhythms, work rhythms and family rhythms that exist in today’s society.
Let’s say goodbye to old rhythms from the agricultural society and the industrial society, and instead create sustainable future rhythms. Because when you find your rhythm, you get a better and more sustainable life. When we live in sync with our own rhythm, time comes to us and we feel the optimal energy. I believe that we must create a society that gives the individual a greater freedom to organize the hours of the day in a way that supports the circadian rhythm we are each born with, but also the different work and family rhythms we have.
I recommend that you work with chronowork in the following areas:
- Global work. Match circadian clocks with time zone work. As a part of an international and globalized world, we need people in Europe who can, for example, communicate with Chinese businesses early in the morning and American businesses late in the evening.
- Team work. Visualize your team’s work rhythms. I have worked with team’s who discovered that they were active 22 of the 24 hours in the day. By making our work hours visible, we can create more efficient teams where we work, together or individually, when our energy levels peak. It does not make sense for A-persons to take phone meetings in the evening, and it is unproductive for B-persons to meet at 8 A.M.
- Shift work. With respect to shift team work, it makes sense to plan work hours to match the circadian rhythms of the employee. Give A-persons more day shifts and B-persons more evening shifts.
- Working 24/7. Create sustainable working hours. We need people who work at different times, around the clock any time of year — without burning out.