Works 9 to 2, and again after dinner

How would Dolly Parton capture everyday life in 2022?

Working 9 to 2, put a load of laundry in

Make the kids a snack, but deadlines are a dilemma

Slack and emails ding, they sound so irreconcilable

You can not get out of Zoom – it’s your way of earning a living

For many teleworkers, 9 to 5 has changed to something more fragmented. A typical schedule might look more like 9 to 2 and then 7 to 10. So sometimes another five minutes wherever you can squeeze them in.

When the coronavirus boosted the workplace in 2020, leaving about 50 million people working from home in May, the working day, as we know it, also underwent radical changes. The mornings were less bothered. Afternoons became childcare time. Some added a third shift to their evenings, what Microsoft researchers call the “third peak” of productivity, after the crunch in the middle of the morning and after lunch. With 10 percent of Americans still working from home and some companies embracing teleworking permanently, companies are struggling to adapt to a new understanding of working hours.

“What we used to think of as traditional work – very specific location, very specific ways of working together, very well-defined work measurements – is changing,” said Javier Hernandez, a researcher at Microsoft’s Human Understanding and Empathy Group. . “There is the possibility of flexibility. There is also the opportunity to make us unhappy. ”

The more widespread approach to work planning has created tremendous benefits for parents along with some new sources of stress. What is clear has shifted: the working day, once mapped, has begun to look less like a single mountain in scale and more like a mountain range.

Mornings used to mean blistering eyes. Makeup to hide the bags under the eyes. Hurry to the door, unhappy children in tow. For teleworkers, this agitation went the way of their commuting.

6:30 When Jennifer DeVito, 33, hears her alarm go off, she immediately feels panic – a remnant of pre-pandemic times where she would have been up at 4:10 to take a shuttle from Sacramento to Santa Clara, California, where she works at a technology company. Freed from her commute, like so many Americans who used to set aside about 54 minutes for daily transportation, she can now steal more sleep.

“The pressure to spend every single second is gone,” Ms DeVito said. “I feel more like myself than I have done in a long time.”

7:05 Kristen Hermanson does not want her children to feel like they are waking up on the wrong side of the bed, so she tries to bring a little cheer into their mornings by rubbing their backs and tickling their feet. Her son, who has autism, is keen on breakfast, but he devours her bacon. She drops off her children at school at 8.02 and then takes a run before her call starts at. 9.

“I get almost eight hours of sleep a night!” Ms. Hermanson, who works in entertainment in Los Angeles, said. “It’s unheard of. My doctor always said to me, ‘You need to get more sleep.'”

7:30 Michelle Flamer, 65, who works for the Philadelphia City Council, sometimes walks to her kitchen after waking up and immediately starts working. Why not? She is not leaving the house, so there is no need to take a shower yet. Sometimes she thinks in amazement about all the tasks that used to fit into her morning, like reading Bible passages, feeding her pets, and jumping on the train. “It’s unbelievable how much you can manage to get up around 6:30 and run out the door a little before 9,” she said with a laugh.

10 in the morning For many parents working from home, especially mothers, the hours in the middle of the morning are a period of intense productivity.

“In the morning, I can just knock things out,” said Laura Bisberg, 37, who works at a university press in New York. “My energy starts to wane after lunch.”

Lots of teleworkers, like Mrs. Bisberg, found that their productivity rhythms are more idiosyncratic than they had ever allowed themselves to believe was possible. Some people are sharpest early in the day, driven by caffeine and ready to pore over spreadsheets; others are practically useless until the sun begins to dive.

Working from home has meant more freedom to pay attention to these patterns, and 80 percent of remote and hybrid workers say they are just as or more productive outside the office than they were in the office, according to the Microsoft Work Trend Index.

11:30 The meeting frenzy is in full swing. Across companies, the pandemic has been accompanied by a meeting creep. Microsoft Teams users, for example, found that the time they spent in meetings each week has increased by more than 250 percent since March 2020. The increase could be driven by a genuine desire by employers to keep colleagues connected, and perhaps also, some speculate employees, by managers who are eager to keep track of how people spend their time.

“People went crazy in a way,” Ms. Flamer said. “There may be a day when I have four consecutive hours of meetings.”

For parents, afternoons in the office often meant high-pressure questions: Were you able to sneak out in time for school pick-up? Working from home and looking after childcare after lunch has reinforced a sense that the office was not suitable for care needs. “It’s structured around the expectation that people do not have a family,” said Phyllis Moen, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota. “We’ve seen dogs and children wandering across people’s screens. They get banished again when you go back to work at work.”

14:50 The best part of logging off to handle school pickup, for Mrs. Hermanson, is the moment she hears her son shout, “Mom, you’re here!” She asks about his classes: “What did you learn? Who have you played with?” In pre-pandemic times, she had to wait until evening to ask how he was doing, and the answers were one-syllable: “Fine.”

15:15 The first shift of Mrs. Bisberg’s working day is over. Her children are home from school and she has hit her downturn after lunch so she turns her attention to games. Her children love playing Silly Street, which involves performing a series of silly tasks – behave like a monkey, give everyone in the room a high-five – a marked shift from the type of tasks that filled her office afternoons.

“I used to work very hard to split up,” Ms. Bisberg. “When I was at work, I did not think about the children. The second I left, I thought, ‘OK, I’m coming home to my children.’ “I did not bring any work into my home life, and I did not take anything home into my work life. Now everything is more mixed together.”

16:30 Kathryn Beaumont Murphy, 47, a lawyer in Philadelphia, now occasionally accepts afternoon car pool assignments. Sure, she’s scrolling through emails in a parking lot at the same time. Her children complain that she spends all her time at work, but Mrs Beaumont Murphy is relieved that they are at least physically spending time together.

“The biggest point of tension is that my kids say, ‘You always work,'” she said. “While I feel like I’m much more focused on work when I’m in the office.”

For some workers, commuting home late in the day meant setting up a work-life firewall: Devices turned off, Netflix turned on. Now that the home is the office, the work can easily seep through the cracks.

19:30 The afternoons and evenings are blurred together for Mrs. Flamer. Her workday is sometimes 13 or 14 hours long. She used to get up from her office desk before 6:30 to catch the train home. Now that she’s sitting in her kitchen, there’s no obvious time to shut down her computer.

20:45 Mrs. Bisberg puts her children to bed and sits down for the last shift of her working day. Some of her teammates are also online.

“At one point, I sent an email late at night and got a response,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘You know I’m making this weird schedule, but you do not have to write back.'”

Her colleague explained that she also worked during those strange hours as a mother working from home: “I was like ‘OK,'” Bisberg said. “‘Then I will accept your e-mail at 22.00′”

This late night activity is the so-called third highlight: the extra shift put in by people who either took a break earlier in the day for babysitting or simply feel compelled to keep sending emails because their inboxes continue with blade. Time spent working after traditional hours has grown by 28 percent since March 2020, according to data from Microsoft Teams users, and weekend work has increased 14 percent.

Several employers have put up crash barriers. For example, teams at Microsoft encourage managers to make agreements about each person’s working hours. Cali Williams Yost, founder of a Workplace Strategy Group, advises executives to sit down with their employees to determine when people are expected to be available for meetings, emails and solo work.

“Unless we consciously coordinate our rhythms, it can end up with everyone working all the time,” Ms. Yost.

In some cases, workers themselves have had to initiate these sticky conversations. “It was very difficult to draw a line in the sand,” said Stephen Luke Todd, 27, an engineer, recalling an expectation on his previous remote job that he would respond to messages around the clock. “I felt I had to formulate boundaries for my boss.”

For some people, the new workday runs from 9 a.m. to nearly 5 p.m.

02:45 Ms. Beaumont Murphy was recently awake in the middle of the night on a Tuesday and wrote an email to colleagues that she had planned to send at. 8. She no longer feels the pressure to jump out of bed at. 5:30 to train. . But she also does not feel able to quit her job at the end of the day. When you think about it, when is the end of the day?

7:30 Ms. DeVito logs on. She faces a deluge of 30 emails that had been sent overnight.

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