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Daily Mandarin - Biological Clock

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生物鐘 - shēngwùzhōng - biological clock

Night owls should be allowed to start work later, study finds


Do you ever get frustrated with your colleagues for showing up to work late, or just not being on the ball?

Well, it might not be their fault. And your team could be suffer from scientists call “chronotype diversity”, a fancy name for variations in people’s in-built body clocks.

A new study from the University of Sydney has found that bosses who demand everyone show up at the same time are getting it all wrong.

Researchers found that individual workers were more productive at different times of the day, depending on their biological type.

So if you’re a morning person, your energy is likely to dwindle later on in the day, the study found, while night owls made to come in early are often less productive in the first few hours of their shift, and do not reach their energy peak until the evening.

Then there’s another group of people who fall into the “intermediate” category, enjoying an energy peak in the middle of the day before tiring in the evening. These workers can also be low on energy in the morning.

However, many employers do not account for these differences when recruiting and rostering staff — with potentially negative consequences.

“Given the widespread use of team-based structures in organisations, this lack of understanding imposes a limit on the ability of managers to fully comprehend a team’s collective potential,” the study, published in the Academy of Management Review, said.

Surgical teams, emergency service workers, orchestras and executives in long board meetings worked better when comprised of groups of people with similar biological clocks, the researchers found.

Careers where a mix of morning and night people would work best included long-haul flight crews and pilots, nurses on long shifts and police carrying out surveillance, with the aim to ensure that at least one team member is working at their peak at different times of the day.

“If team members fail to recognise their chronotypes, they may time and pace their work suboptimally in ways that do not coincide with their energetic peaks,” the authors wrote.

“However, when teams recognise their differences in chronotype, diversity can act as a resource and increase the quality of team interactions, because team members can use their understanding of their energy differences to allocate tasks and schedule the flow of work throughout the day.”

There you go, a fine reason to sleep in tomorrow — if you’re that type of person.

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