How do non-linear workdays affect productivity?

We are all familiar with the concept of work-life balance. The term is becoming more popular, and we are more aware than ever of the need to find a balance between our professional and personal lives. But what if this isn't just a matter of taking your lunch break on a Wednesday afternoon? What if the entire structure of the working day is changing?

The concept of non-linear workdays has been around and is not exactly new. It is used to describe an alternative way of organising the working week, where fixed start and end times are replaced by flexible hours. It is based on the idea that working from home and from the office are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you can do both at the same time! It's all about being able to work when you're most productive, rather than sticking to rigid schedules that don't suit everyone. In theory, this gives employees more control over their time and means they can organise their workload better according to their own needs. 

This kind of flexibility has long been a dream for many workers. But it's only recently that companies have started offering non-linear workdays in earnest.

When computers were first introduced into offices and homes, people were fascinated by the freedom they gave us to do whatever we wanted to do. It was thought that this freedom would lead to much more efficient workers and more productive businesses. But that didn't necessarily happen. Instead, many office workers spent hours playing Solitaire and Minesweeper on their computers! 

As technology improved over the years, companies began offering employees more flexibility with their schedules — allowing them to come in late (or leave early) if they needed time to take care of personal business or pick up children from school; allowing them to work from home when necessary, and even hiring remote workers who could log into their accounts from anywhere in the world (this practice is known as telecommuting).  

Does a non-linear workday really enhance the business culture and productivity?
It very much depends on the type of business. For example, some businesses may find that having employees come into the office during traditional hours helps them connect with each other more easily and build relationships that further productivity down the road. Others may find that having their employees come into the office during traditional hours is counterproductive because it doesn't allow them enough flexibility to get their jobs done without distractions like meetings or conversations with coworkers. 

Read more on a non-linear workday in HR Grapevine
Flexible future | What is the 'non-linear workday', and is it for everyone?
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