What is chronoworking?

Embracing your natural circadian rhythm instead of fighting against it is fast becoming a prominent trend in workplace wellness. 

Have you heard of chronoworking? The term refers to aligning your work schedule with your body’s natural rhythm, such as starting at 7am for early risers, for example. 

Many leading authorities in the wellness and productivity space anticipate that 2024 will mark the beginning of a shift away from the rigid 9-5 schedule, towards a more personalised approach that respects individual body clocks. They want to see workplaces accommodating early birds with earlier shifts and allowing for breaks during the less productive afternoon hours. Even considering adjusting winter hours to maximise exposure to sunlight has been suggested. 

Impacts of working against your body clock

Chronoworking is said to mitigate the negative impact of forcing individuals to work against their natural biological clocks. By synchronising work hours with natural energy levels, it is believed that employees would be more efficient, less fatigued and overall happier in their roles.

While adjusting start times or finishing earlier may seem challenging to implement in traditional workplaces, there is ample research supporting the benefits of aligning work schedules with circadian rhythms. Studies have shown significant differences in cognitive performance between morning larks and night owls, with each group performing best at their respective peak times.

Dr. Lindsay Browning, a sleep expert, chartered psychologist, neuroscientist, experienced speaker and author, who holds a doctorate in insomnia from the University of Oxford, UK highlights the positive effects of adapting work schedules to individual body clocks, noting its potential to improve sleep health. By allowing individuals to work in harmony with their natural inclinations, she believes that employees can mitigate the negative effects of sleep deprivation resulting from early start times.

How to implement chronoworking principles into daily routines

For those unable to immediately enact changes in their workplace schedules, there are still ways to integrate chronoworking principles into daily routines. Dr. Browning advises tackling demanding tasks during energy peaks and avoiding early morning meetings for night owls. They suggest tracking personal energy levels throughout the day and structuring tasks accordingly, emphasising the importance of creating a working routine that respects individual body rhythms.

Embracing chronoworking holds immense potential for enhancing productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being in the workplace, but is it realistic? By acknowledging individual differences in energy levels and peak performance times, organisations can foster a more accommodating and efficient work environment, but how easy is this to implement in practice?

Whether it’s adjusting start times, scheduling breaks strategically, or structuring tasks according to personal energy peaks, incorporating chronoworking principles can potentially lead to a happier and more productive workforce. Perhaps it is worth considering a shift towards a more personalised approach to work, where our biological clocks are respected and optimised for greater success.

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