Now that more people than ever are working from home, Probella decided to take a look at the numerous different working styles that can be adopted when you are not confined to an office. Like most things, there are not really any right or wrong answers here and what suits you will depend on your personal circumstances, the industry you are working in and the type of living arrangement you have. Each style has its own merits and downfalls, depending on your preferences, skills, and goals.
The Home Office Style
This style of working is most popular with larger companies who still operate according to the traditional “business day.” This used to be known as the “Nine to Five” style of working, but as later opening hours and 24/7 online culture began to creep in, it is common for some people to work up until 8pm on an evening.
Starting work at the same time as you would ordinarily do so while working in a traditional office means that you will be operating on a similar timescale to the majority of people in customer facing industries. This style is popular in digital marketing as many agencies, though focused on the nonstop online world, still follow the pattern of the standard business day.
Working in this way means you can feel as if you are in touch with the rest of the world during the day and it also has practical advantages, such as being available to answer emails quickly, use instant messenger or virtual conferencing software to speak to your clients or colleagues and make or receive phone calls if you need to.
Though this style of working is ideal for many people, for those who work in industries that see peak activity during the night, later in the day or very early in the morning may find this impractical. It can also be difficult for those taking care of young children to function this way due to things like mealtimes and home schooling.
Split Working Day
This working style involves carrying out your work-related tasks in several allocated slots throughout the day. For example, you may work for 4 hours between 6am and lunch time, taking a few hours break during the day for exercise, family commitments or general errands, then work for another 4 hours between 5pm and 9pm. Split shifts are commonplace in the hospitality industry but are becoming increasingly popular with freelancers and homeworkers as they allow for a degree of flexibility that traditional home office style working doesn’t permit.
Parents, those who care for elderly relatives or people with more than one job might find this approach to working from particularly effective as it allows you to complete all of your work related activities, without compromising on your other commitments.
The downside of this pattern of working is that it can make your day feel much, much longer. If you are able to “switch off” from work for a few hours during the day, this won’t be an issue, but many people find this goes against their natural instincts of working for a fixed period of time in the main part of the day.
Nights and Late Working
Some people are natural night owls and function better after the sun goes down. Those who work in nightclubs, bars, restaurants, security, and delivery services are no stranger to late shifts or night working but many digital marketing professionals use this approach, too. This can be a particularly effective way to work for anybody who deals with international clients. As time zones around the world can differ significantly, sometimes organising virtual face to face meetings or live chats can be problematic. Not everybody will be suited to this style of working as it can be quite punishing if you are used to doing the majority of your work during the daytime. To stay healthy, it is important to balance this pattern with at least some periods of daytime activity if you can, as things like natural light interaction with others are particularly important.
Episodic or incremental working
The amount of time the human brain can fully pay attention for is around 18 to 22 minutes. This means working intensely for longer than this is usually counterproductive. Incremental working allows you to split up periods of intense focus with less demanding tasks. So, for example, a morning could be split up into periods of around 20 minutes where you switch from high focused spreadsheet work, coding, content writing or design, to things like checking emails, record keeping and research. The key to using this pattern effectively is self-discipline and organisation. Setting timers and switching tasks when you are supposed to takes some getting used to, but once you have implemented this style, you may find that you get a lot more done. For home workers, this approach can be particularly effective if you have a large and fairly laborious task to complete. Things like proof reading, data entry or anything that involves a lot of repetition can be quite draining, so splitting the project up in to manageable, bite sized chunks can be really helpful.
Longer Working Days and More Free Time
Some people prefer to work for up to 12 hours per day but only for a few days a week. This means that some of your week will feel totally dominated by work commitments, but you will also be able to enjoy more time off. Many call centres and factories use this model as it allows workers to get their hours done over a shorter period of time, leaving them more time to spend with family and friends. It is important not to underestimate the demands of this pattern as long days can take their toll on your energy levels. This is why it is important to make the best of your days off and ensure you allocate time for rest and relaxation.
The pattern that works best for you will depend on your personal circumstances, natural circadian rhythm, and other commitments. We recommend trying a few different approaches so you can decide which is the best fit for you.