Week InReview: October 22, 2021

Tyranny of the Early Birds
Illustration: Harry Haysom/FT
BEFORE the pandemic, working life trapped most of us in a one-size-fits-all schedule. During lockdowns, when homeworkers were suddenly able to choose their own wake-up times, most slept later.
“Standard employment schedules force [night] owls into an unnatural sleep-wake rhythm,” writes Matthew Walker in 'Why We Sleep.' “Job performance of owls as a whole is far less optimal in the mornings, and they are further prevented from expressing their true performance potential in the late afternoon and early evening as standard work hours end prior to its arrival.” Also, owls in particular sacrifice sleep in order to get to work at ridiculous times. Before the pandemic, nearly a third of Americans were averaging six hours a night or less.
Given that remote work is here to stay, the moral is obvious. Let people choose their own start-times whenever possible. There may need to be core hours when everyone in a team is working — between 10am and 3pm, say — but beyond that, let's overthrow the tyranny of the early birds, though preferably only after a long lie in.
Financial Times

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