Is the 9-5 working day best for productivity?

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Date: 29 September 2020

Working from home setup with digital clock on the screen display

A new study suggests that flexible working could increase the UK's creativity and productivity as it finds that the 9-5 day does not work for everyone.

The average Brit is most productive in the late morning and is most creative soon after, according to a new study conducted by Tic Watches. However, marked differences between ages and professions suggest that productivity patterns are individual and a significant number of workers are most productive outside of the traditional 9-5 day.

The poll asked 1,500 employees, from a range of sectors, to reveal the hour of day they feel most creative, productive and energetic. The findings show that the average Brit feels most productive late in the morning (at 11:54am) and they reach their creative peak at 12:42pm.

However, there are marked differences between genders, age-groups and professions. For example, women say that they reach maximum creativity slightly later in the day than men, at 12:54pm and 12:24pm respectively.

Younger people are most likely to prefer working earlier or later in the day - as many as 42% of 25-34-year-olds say that they feel most creative outside of traditional work hours, compared to 33% of 35-44s and 27% of 45-54s.

Productivity follows a similar pattern. More than one in six (18%) millennials feel most productive before 9am, while the same number feel they're most efficient after 5pm - more than any other age category.

There is also considerable variation by profession. Those that are most productive in the morning include: accountants (9:48am), civil servants (11am), plumbers, electricians and builders (11am), admin/office workers (11:42am) and those in IT (11.48am).

Those that feel productive later in the day include those in finance (12.36pm), HR/recruitment (12.54pm) and sales (1.12pm).

More than a fifth (21%) of workers polled said they feel most active between 10am and 11am, before slowly fading as the day progresses. Workers feel laziest in mid-afternoon, with 4-5pm and 3-4pm being the least energetic hours. In fact, just 3% of Brits feel most energetic at this time.

Interestingly, nearly a quarter of employees (23%) feel most sprightly before 9am, suggesting that earlier working shifts could help boost productivity for some.

Danny Richmond, managing director at Tic Watches, said: "COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a long-lasting impact on the day-to-day of many professions. Lots of workers have enjoyed the flexible working arrangements afforded to them over lockdown and some may push for these to become permanent.

"Our new research has shown that many Brits feel more energetic, creative and productive outside of the typical 9-5 working hours, so it could benefit both employers and employees to continue this flexibility."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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