Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella says that white collar employees are pivoting away from the traditional 9 to 5, but that may not be a good thing.
At the Wharton Future of Work Conference, Nadella noted that workers are logging in late at night, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are becoming increasingly blurred.
The realization of late-night work hours came after Microsoft began researching how often workers were logging in to improve its Teams application.
Mostly, productivity was found to peak just before and after lunch. However, a “third peak” was discovered to occur during the hours of 6 pm to 10 pm.
“The ‘third peak’ should be an available option for people who need it, but the challenge moving forward is, How can we make sure people are not working 24/7?” said Shamsi Iqbal, principal researcher on productivity and intelligence at Microsoft Research and Microsoft Viva Insight. “If people are working all three peaks, that’s a recipe for early burnout.”
Microsoft’s Work Trend Index showed that the average workday grew by 13% since the onset of the pandemic, with Teams users now sending 42% more messages after work hours.
These third peaks are likely a result of parents who find it easier to complete tasks during the evening after their children have settled in for the night.
While it’s essential for workers to be able to identify their best work hours for productivity, opting for later times may unintentionally lead employees to work all hours of the day. This could have a negative impact on the quality of their work.
Nadella added that it is the responsibility of managers to set a reasonable work schedule for their employees to discourage them from putting in longer hours.
“We think about productivity through collaboration and output metrics, but well-being is one of the most important pieces of productivity,” said Nadella. “We know what stress does to workers. We need to learn the soft skills—good old-fashioned management practices—so people have their well-being taken care of.”