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Why the viral trend ‘chronoworking’ is making waves among employees and employers

A viral new job trend called chronoworking is turning heads, as it promotes flexibility and keeps top of mind the most favorable working hours for employees. Career experts shared insights.

Viral career trends often have negative tones. Think of "resenteeism," "bare-minimum Mondays" and "quiet quitting," for example.

But the latest career trend known as "chronoworking" might actually be beneficial for all involved if it's implemented with care in the business environment, according to work experts.

The trend prioritizes flexibility for employees based on their work styles. 

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Here’s a deeper dive into this emerging practice and what's involved.

Employees work according to their chronotype — or their individual circadian rhythms.

This means more flexibility. 

A person's circadian rhythm can impact how awake he or she feels at different points in the day — and the working arrangement would take that into account. 

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"For example, when we think of ‘night owls’ and ‘early birds,’ we are thinking of chronotypes," said Julia Lyons-Ryle, an HR performance specialist with Insperity in Austin, Texas.

Chronoworking empowers employees to work a schedule that suits their circadian or life rhythms, she said. 

"For example, a perpetually exhausted night owl can shift their schedule, so they have the energy they need to socialize or run errands after work — or employees with families can also adjust their hours to better accommodate their home life, while still delivering quality work and meeting company goals."

"The work-life balance benefits can be significant."

When people are in tune with their circadian rhythm, they may work better and more efficiently. 

"It can improve productivity and focus as well as enable workers to feel more autonomy over their schedules," said Nicholette Leanza, a therapist at LifeStance Health based in Beechwood, Ohio. 

"This can also boost their motivation and job satisfaction — and help reduce feelings of stress and burnout." 

Companies can benefit from promoting more flexibility with employee schedules — and they're recognizing the benefits of employee well-being and satisfaction, according to Leanza. 

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"Happy and content employees tend to be more productive employees, which obviously benefits the company," she said. 

"I also think that companies are seeing how ‘one size fits all’ schedules can contribute to employee burnout and job dissatisfaction."

From a psychological point of view, Leanza said that there are quite a few benefits for workers and companies.

For workers, it’s the positive psychological effect of reduced stress and anxiety, which will contribute to having better overall mental health and well-being, she said. 

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"It may also increase their self-esteem as they feel better and more productive about their job," Leanza said.

"Also, feeling that they have more control and autonomy over their schedule enables them to feel more positive about their company and like they matter to the company."

For companies, embracing chronoworking fosters respect for individual work styles and builds employee trust, she said.

"It also helps build a more positive work environment, which will decrease burnout and improve productivity."

Some people know their chronotype already based on their experiences, said Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of the book, "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," based in Marathon, Florida. 

"Other people might benefit from paying closer attention and logging the times when they feel most alert and productive, as well as dips in energy and their sleep patterns," she suggested. 

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There are online tests people can take to learn more about their type and how to maximize it. A Google search can be a useful resource.

For some companies, Morin said, flexible scheduling isn't an option due to deadlines, business hours and other factors. 

"It's also important to note that while someone may be naturally more included to work later, their home life may not be in line with that," said Morin.  

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For instance, those with young children may find it's best to start working earlier in the day, as they need to wake up early anyway (or rise early before the children do). 

Still, there’s a reality for businesses to consider, too. 

"Most companies still need to hold meetings — and there isn't going to be a time that's best for everyone," added Morin. 

"Or they may need to have deadlines that don't necessarily coincide with someone's desired schedule."

Lyons-Ryle of Insperity said flexible work options tend to be appreciated by workers.  

Here are three ways businesses can consider chronoworking, she said.

Flex schedules are already a popular benefit to promote work-life balance. 

"With a flex schedule, workers can shift their core hours, for example, by working from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m," Lyons-Ryle noted. 

Even so, continuity is still an important variable. 

"You may want to enforce some overlap every day. For example, requiring employees to be online from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. will encourage chronoworking while allowing for teams to come together on a regular basis," she suggested. 

Lyons-Ryle told Fox Business that a significant challenge with any type of asynchronous working, including chronoworking, is that employees may not be able to collaborate in real time. 

"That makes communication even more critical to their success, and the success of your business," she offered. "Team members and managers need to be aware of one another’s working hours so they can meet when they need." 

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That could involve meeting outside of someone’s typical chronoworking schedule. 

Jeri Hawthorne, chief human resources officer at Aflac in Columbus, Georgia, told Fox Business that employees are asking employers to think about workers' value proposition in new and different ways. This includes concepts such as chronoworking as well as other flexible work practices

"They want employers to think about the whole person rather than just as an employee," said Hawthorne. 

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"Flexibility in the workplace continues to be a top ask of employees, and employers are still navigating striking the right mix of flexibility while continuing to drive stellar business results," Hawthorne said.

"At Aflac, we are always looking to ensure that our offerings and overall employee experience is relevant and informed." 

Many U.S. companies continue to strive to make employees feel appreciated. 

"We know that every work place is different, but one thing we’ve learned is that we can show our people that we care about their well-being by reexamining what we offer in terms of benefits and flexibility, in addition to how we continue to reach them and advocate for them, no matter how or where they work," Hawthorne said.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle

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