The nocturnal workforce

Traditional ideas on productivity tell a familiar story of CEOs and entrepreneurial founders waking up at 5am to make the most of early morning hours. We have long associated this with being productive and dedicated to work. More and more young people are looking for flexible hours, less time in the office and greater work life balance. Is this laziness, or perhaps a different understanding of maximising time, efficiency and productivity?

Interestingly, new studies have emerged that Millennials and Gen Z are more productive outside of traditional working hours. One study found trends that showed young people prefer to work, and in some cases were more productive, from the hours of 6pm until 10pm. Do companies need to be considerate that not everyone can and needs to work during traditional hours?

Generation Z is perhaps commonly known to work lower hours than previous generations, not having fixed office times and showing up later to work. But perhaps this is a new wave of hidden productivity?

After the pandemic an introduction to the concept of flexibility became at the forefront of industry and businesses. So how can companies facilitate an understanding that work hours are no longer nine to five? As industry returns to its former vigour there seems to be a somewhat clear reservation by young people to return to traditional working systems. This being said reports have shown that productivity in Generation Z is at similar levels, if not higher, than previous generations.

Technologies have additionally increased productivity. Schools and Higher Education are now focusing on teaching how students can make the most of time and in conjunction with organisational technologies boost productivity, so it is not a foreign concept that this generation is educated in tools to carryout tasks in the quickest and most efficient manner.

Of course, there is an understanding that collaborative tasks within businesses require people to work during the same time periods, however in an increasingly global world the nine to five work routine is often extended already.

Interestingly, the view that Generation Z is any less productive or is lazy has been proven consistently incorrect. Despite wanting flexibility as a whole, this generation has been found to be spending more time working, whether that be in an office or out, than Millennials. Perhaps, the strongest message to take form this data is that the narrative surrounding youth laziness needs to be dispelled.

In 2023, If businesses want to retain staff and have healthy working dynamics, flexibility is a key trend which keeps resurfacing. We possess the technologies after the pandemic to lean into remote working, so if young people want to utilise this time companies must understand that this is going to be something that needs accommodation in the future. Leaders perhaps need to turn their focus to creating working environments which facilitate flexible deadlines and match this change in work dynamic in order to get the most from young employees?

We are no stranger to the idea of the ‘early bird getting the worm’ but perhaps we must create opportunities in our workforce for the ‘night owls’?

Written by Lexie Cook, EP Business in Hospitality