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Remote Workers Weigh In: How do you take advantage of flexible working hours?

In a bid to cover some remote worker FAQs, through our new series, ‘Remote Workers Weigh In,’ we’ll be asking our team some of the most asked questions about what it’s really like to be a remote worker. 

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with flexibility. On the one hand, I find it absolutely necessary to work within the ebbs and flows of life. On the other, structure helps me to stay on track. 

This is really evident in the way I’ve approached my daily schedules since joining Shield two years ago. At first, I found it really empowering to wake up early and begin work around six or 6:30 in the morning. It meant I could take a break for my favorite yoga classes and finish early enough in the afternoon for sunset walks or catching up with friends. 

When I moved to Canada last year, where the sun rose later, the mornings were a lot cooler and I just generally had a different flow of life, I found that waking up early wasn’t working anymore. 

I was living with friends who had kids, so my mornings had a different structure to my life in Australia. I’d let myself sleep in, and we would often have a big breakfast together before I would spend some time playing with their daughter, Emery, each day. I’d aim to start work around ten, but it would sometimes be even later, and I’d often be working late in the evening to compensate. 

Finding structure within the flexibility

When COVID hit, this looser schedule was initially perfect for me as I grappled with yet another change in the daily flow. I was no longer heading out to the library or my co-working space, and I was sharing my desk with my partner who was now WFH too. The flexibility meant I could work around breaks for news updates and the extra noise of a full house; however, as time wore on the flexible approach to work hours no longer served me. I found it harder and harder to concentrate and stay on track. 

So, I implemented stricter work times and even scheduled my breaks again to help with mid-pandemic motivation woes. I was firm about finish times and would try to end each day with a walk or work-out to definitively mark a transition from “work” time to “home time.”

These days, I’m more focused on fitting in things outside of work, which helps me find my ideal working hours for this season. After a year in and out of lockdowns, it seems more pertinent than ever to prioritize leaving the house — simple things like walks into town for a coffee or making time to watch the sunset at the beach have become highlights that give structure to my days. 

I’m naturally waking up earlier again and finding a new, slower, rhythm than before, but one that makes sense for this time. 

How the Shield team takes advantage of flexible work hours

It’s clear that flexibility doesn’t just mean finding your most productive work hours and sticking to them. Instead, it’s more about allowing yourself the freedom to change your routines in response to your life. 

Below I’ve collected some answers from my co-workers around how they structure their workdays. For some of them, this response will likely remain somewhat similar over time. For others, like me, it could change every few months. But isn’t that the beauty of having flexibility? 

I intend to work between 9 am and 7:30 pm depending on my workload. As I am more of an afternoon-evening person, I enjoy and don’t mind working until late, I can easily work until midnight. But that is what is so amazing about remote working. You structure your hours according to your workload and to whom you need to liaise or work with, should they be in a different time zone.”

— Juanita Teixeira, Operations Administrator 

I take advantage of flexible working and work around school hours. That means I log on from 6 am – 8 am and would usually get out to take my children to school. But with lockdown, I use the hour break to get them ready for online learning and homeschooling, planning lessons, and working out how much ‘teaching’ I have to do that day. 

— Bonani Chimedza, Global Mobility Implementation Consultant 

Since I’m an early bird, I try to log in between 6 – 6:30 am every day to sort my inbox and action any quick, easy tasks, then I take a break from 8 to 9:30 to go for a morning run, shower, and get some breakfast. Then my lunch break is different every day now that I have my parents living with me, so depending on what they have planned, we have lunch between 12 -1 pm or 2 – 3 pm, and once I’m back from lunch, I’ll action anything I have pending, and most days I log off around 5 pm.

— Karla Olivero, Global Mobility Associate 

I am aiming to structure my week so that I have at least one early log in to catch my line manager in Australia (Svetlana) and at least one late log in per week to cross over more with Brenda and Martha in Mexico/US. I LOVE spending time with my little brother, niece and nephew so once the UK lockdown ends (if ever!!), I will pick them up from school on my “early log in day” and spend some quality time with them.

— Jay Shorthouse, Implementation Consultant 

I don’t have the discipline to stop work and resume later. I tend to like to knock things off during the allocated work time. I’ve been trained in the old school way for more than ten years. Now I’m trying to readjust with some night meetings and have longer breaks in the day, but sometimes I feel I work longer. Starting to find my sweet spot…

— Wee Yen Wong, Finance Reporting Manager 

I try to work between 9 am and 7 pm, with an hour-long break in between for exercise and lunch if possible. I’ve had issues with insomnia for the better part of the last year, and I’ve seen in the weeks since Christmas that logging off earlier in the evening gives me the time to wind down properly and get a better night’s sleep. So, I’m making an effort to try to stick to my boundaries and not work late into the night, even if it means clients have to wait a bit longer for a response.

— Asia Hundley, Customer Success Manager 

I do work according to traditional working hours 9 to 6. I rather love working like that because I can focus on completing daily tasks and not being interrupted by personal things that take my mind somewhere else. But snacks breaks are a must in between.

— Priyanka Virarkar, Finance Associate

I don’t work 9ish to 5ish as the other members of my team (Offboarding) are from other time zones. I break up my working day – work a few hours in the morning to catch one side of the globe, take an afternoon break and come back when the clients are up and online. Sometimes, I work from early afternoon till late evening. It all depends on what I’m working on and where the “players” are around the globe.  That I think is the beauty of remote work.

— Kim Luy, Global Mobility Termination Consultant 

I work from 12 pm – 6 pm then 8 pm -10 pm. I quite like my mornings to myself, and I work much better at night (or I convince myself I do). Also, there’s better overlap with PH and India where I chat with teammates the most.

— Jacky Lee, Salesforce Developer 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays I start work around 11 am/12 pm so that I go to 8 pm or so to cross over with the EMEA region a little bit. Thursdays and Fridays I start at 7 am in the morning and finish at 3 pm so that I cross over with the Americas more. Mondays I also start at 7 am because usually, I like to kick Monday off nice and productive in the morning. This also means that in the afternoons I finish at 3 pm, I can schedule in piano students or go to the beach and do some lap swimming for exercise!

— Stella Huang, Head of HR, Talent and Culture

I like to start quite early — 6 or 7 am depending on what time I went to sleep the previous night. I like to start earlier so that I can get a few hours of work done before I start getting on client calls as these usually start around 9 am. Also, I’m a morning person, so feel like I get a lot of work knocked out earlier. 

— Rosalyn Kamp, Customer Success Associate

I fully lean into flexible hours; I find it is wonderful for both my work/life balance and for ensuring I can effectively lead the tech team that spans five timezones. On Tuesdays, 1:1s and the tech team called are quite late in my timezone, so I go to archery in the morning and start my day around 12 pm. Most other days, I will tend to work 8 am-12 pm, have a couple of hours in the middle of the day for appointments, lunch, and playing fetch with my dog (especially in winter where in Canada it’s dark out from 4 pm-8 am). Then I will work the remaining hours usually 2-6 pm.

— Anna Duncanson, Salesforce Development Manager

I would love to structure my day with a nice long break in between and work evenings, but it gets tough with the time zones since I aim to be on when other teams are online to cut down on wait times if I need help with something. Hopefully, in the summer, I’ll be able to structure my day this way to take advantage of the day and outdoors. 

— Marilu Torices, Global Mobility Account Manager 

Whether you’re a working parent fitting in desk time around school pick-ups or an early bird that finds they’re most productive before everyone else wakes up, having flexible hours is one of the major benefits of working remotely. When teams and clients spread across time zones and the intensity of work shifts in cycles throughout the month, having the autonomy to choose your hours and fit in breaks during times that make sense, creates well-needed balance. 

At the same time, don’t let the flexibility confine you either. If 9 – 5 works best for you right now, stick to it! The point is to have the freedom to figure out what works, but also the freedom to change again when it’s no longer serving you. 

 

— Bree Caggiati

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