Night Owls, Blogging and WFH

Blogging and online publishing offer a 100% flexible schedule (among many other entrepreneurial pursuits). I do appreciate not having to ever set an alarm.

I’m of the view that collateral perks such as flexibility, work from anywhere, be your own boss are probably not sufficient motivators to overcome a dislike of this line of work (or any line of work).

I believe you need to like the work as well to be able to put in the monster, sustained effort required.

However, I may be underestimating the importance of work schedule flexibility for some folks… namely night owls. Although I believe it’s safe to say all of us like flexibility.

I’m a morning person so it doesn’t apply all that much to me. That said, I appreciate not having to set an alarm ever.

If you’re a night owl, you likely suffer a big disadvantage in our society. If you work a 9 to 5 or have other obligations forcing you to wake up earlier than you’d prefer, you’re probably chronically short of sleep.

Night Owl Study

This article, based on a sleep tracking study involving thousands of people and tracking their sleep via sleep tracking tech, explains that night owls consistently suffer lack of sleep having to adhere to the 9 to 5 schedule.

I believe it.

Forcing yourself up too early a day or two in a row, while unpleasant, is manageable.

Having to force yourself up too early for your natural sleep schedule every day, year-in and year-out, takes its toll.

10% of the population are extreme night owls. 10% are extreme early birds. 80% fall on the spectrum in between []. I suspect for at least 20% of the population, the 9 to 5 doesn’t work.

Because night owls are the minority, the working and school schedule is what it is.

Not only are mornings rough but nights are too. Many night owls on the 9 to 5 schedule go to bed hoping to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep but instead toss and turn for hours. That’s a real drag and a huge loss of what could be time much better spent.

There are no shortage of “sleep tips” articles out there but for night owls I doubt they help much. If your natural habit is to wake up and be energized at night, there’s not much you can do short of snorfling sleeping pills which is not a great solution.

Blogging isn’t the only solution

If blogging or content publishing isn’t your thing, there are many other entrepreneurial options, including freelancing, to enjoy a flexible schedule where you can stay up to 3 am and roll out of bed at 10:30 am.

In fact, there’s a modest working reset happening with respect to work from home and flexible scheduling. It might turn into a full reset… that remains to be seen.

Will Work From Home Continue and Solve the Problem?

I find the whole WFH phenomenon during COVID interesting. I’ve read many articles about whether companies will continue or stop WFH. More specifically, I’m interested in the big productivity question – does working from home improve, hurt or have no change to productivity?

There are examples that maintain all positions.

I’m of the view that it’s far too early to conclude about productivity from WFH.

The WFH Cost-Saving Fallacy

Many suggest that one benefit for companies is saving a bundle on leasing office space. That can definitely add up.

Here’s the problem. IF WFH is less productive, any overhead cost-savings will not make up for that. In other words, as a business owner, I’d rather spend more on overhead and enjoy maximum productivity.

Why? Because it’s productivity that makes a company competitive. Competitors who outright own their offices enjoy a cost-saving advantage but as long as I’d be more productive, I’d have the advantage.

BUT, that’s assuming WFH is less productive. Some say it is. Some say it isn’t. I have no idea. All I know is that I don’t buy the cost-saving argument IF it compromises productivity.

It appears that post-pandemic more folks will work from home than pre-pandemic. It doesn’t appear WFH will be an option for everyone. Some companies want folks back in the office while some will continue WFH.

Being able to work from home doesn’t necessarily solve the 9 to 5 issue. If you’re expected to be at your computer at a set time, that doesn’t help except perhaps saving you a good chunk of time getting ready and commuting. That could add 30 to 100 minutes to your sleep. It’s a start.

On the flip side, some companies offering WFT also offer flexible work hours. That’s huge for night owls or anyone who benefits from a flexible schedule.

A WFH option with a flexible schedule would no doubt be the ultimate solution for night owls and people generally. That could go a long way to boost morale among a large cohort of employees and potentially reduce employee turnover.

I say “WFH option” because some people prefer going to an office. I know I would for the most part. I don’t care for working at home. Been there, done that. I could work from home now yet I choose to head to an office every day. I like the change in scenery. It’s good for me to get out of the house.

But I get why people would prefer working from home. It saves time getting ready and commuting. You can live where you want, such as a rural area hours away from the office. Save money on gas, clothing, lunches, etc. There are many reasons people prefer working from home.

Anecdotally, many folks like the idea of the hybrid option where they can go to the office a couple days a week and work from home the remainder. I get that. It’s another layer to the flexibility offering.

The “WFH OPTION” problem

I’ve repeatedly said having the “option” to work from home is good because some people want to go to an office.

On the balance this is good and perhaps it’s necessary for some companies to maintain an office.

However, this could prove to be a problem for those who choose to work from home in that no face time means less advancement. Out of sight, out of mind.

This theory is bandied about often in WFH articles. I believe it’s true to an extent in some companies.

In these instances, choosing to work from home could cost individuals so much.

The difference between middle management and C-suite compensation is astronomical. C-suite compensation these days is basically winning a lottery every year. Middle management, while a fine living, is a living. It’s a huge cost.

If, however, you’re NOT gunning for the executive suite, it’s moot. But if you are, you no doubt will feel compelled to go to the office. I know I would.

This is definitely a wrinkle in WFH, or at least with companies that offer both WFH and an office.

The BIG productivity problem

The big productivity problem for now is figuring out whether WFH is more or less productive. Some experts and companies say yes (or at the very least no change). Other say no.

There are so many variables. The conclusion is based on variables measured.

I believe it’s too early to conclude because this type of change has long term ramifications.

What variables do you measure to determine productivity?

To date, only short term productivity measures have been tracked.

For example, I can’t help but believe the improvement in morale and wellbeing would be so much higher. I also believe it could be a way to attract/retain better employees (maybe). These potential benefits take years to measure. If these benefits result, they can significantly improve productivity.

Consider the positive impact of improving the wellbeing of 20% of your workforce because they finally get enough sleep.

No doubt many would enjoy less stress thanks to a flexible schedule.

How about being able to attract, on the whole, 10% better employees because of these perks? That could boost productivity in the long run big time (assuming other players in the industry don’t offer these perks.  If most companies in the same industry offer the same perks, there’s no perk).

Possible outcome

If I base a WFH prediction based on my experience, at around the 5 year mark, many people will want to return to the office.

I worked at home for around 5 years. I loved it for three. By the end of year four, I needed to get an office even if it meant spending time getting ready and commuting.

I did get one. That was four years ago. I still head to an office five days a week with no plans to change.

I may be an anomaly but I don’t think so.

In the meantime, if WFH and flexible work hours help some people out, that’s a good thing.

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