"Working 9-5 is torture" says Dr Paul Kelley. The Oxford University academic's work shows early starts are not good for our health. Not only that, but our body clocks change as we grow so adapting to stay in-tune can is what is needed for us to perform at our highest standard.
Stumbling across this research has made me wonder, would you send these findings to your boss?
Whether a genuine concern for your health or just something cheeky to make them smile, would you send it? Is it unprofessional? Would it show a lack of respect for your workplace set up? Or is it just nice to be silly from time to time?
I also wonder, would this relationship boundary differ from sector to sector? I presume so, but I wonder how far and why?
It's difficult to define precisely where that line should be drawn. One thing I know, it's that people should not be afraid of their managers. A good manager will be willing to listen, address your points, and provide guidance.
Having a line-manager who you feel comfortable and open with on both a serious level and a light-hearted level has significant benefits. It holds potential to increase levels of productivity, collaboration, trust and even employees loyalty to their organisation.
From another perspective, it's not easy being the boss. An employee could take advantage of a good relationship by not meeting deadlines for example, placing the manager in a compromising position feeling like they can no longer manage the person. Being straight-laced eradicates that risk early and makes that line much finer.
Curious to learn more, I asked Kelley myself what employers could gain from his work. He told me: "A better knowledge of the body clock could enhance any organization. There are opportunities to improve performance, health and mental health of employees simply by changing the time they work in the day."
I ask him how managers should take on-board his research. He says
"First, look at the issue with an open mind to see what the benefits might be for the organisation (better performance, mental and physical health can't be all bad). Second, look at working hours to avoid being sued (for example, breast cancer is 50% more likely if you have to bad shifts)"
Kelley mentions that staff can now have medical tests that can quantify the levels of sleep loss of which the company could be held accountable in the future.
"It's about threats and opportunities, and opportunities don't cost anything."
If Google can introduce sleep-pods, why is the prospect of changing our working hours so shocking?
It's quite scary that the systematic 9-5 culture is so deeply ingrained that we don't even consider change. If we really wish to improve the way we work, our patterns and ideas should be constantly evolving.
It seems we could be missing out on innovative ideas and ways to support people if we're too afraid to foster positive open working environments. It takes a lot of work, time, and understanding to get that right. It is up to both the employee and their manager to put the effort in and make sure there is that mutual respect to begin to create such an environment. But it's worth it - those conversations, debates and light-hearted moments all need to be had! Each one of them hold potential.