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The Rise of the Triple Peak Day

The Rise of the Triple Peak Day

If the pandemic has revealed anything about work life, it’s that work and life are melded like never before: morning staff meetings streamed from the breakfast table; in-person presentations before school pickup; and evenings of quiet concentration whenever the opportunity avails.

Findings from Microsoft and its researchers suggest that the 9-to-5 workday is fading in an age of remote and hybrid work and more flexible hours. That pattern was first spotted early in the pandemic, when Microsoft Teams chats outside the typical workday increased more than in any other time segment, particularly between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Newer data suggests the trend is here to stay. Traditionally, knowledge workers had two productivity peaks in their workday: before lunch and after lunch. But when the pandemic sent so many people into work-from-home mode, a third peak emerged for some in the hours before bedtime. Microsoft researchers have begun referring to this phenomenon as a “triple peak day.”

“Having your kids at home, having no breaks to eat or exercise, we see that one of the ways to cope is to take a break, eat dinner, and then spend time in the evening actually getting things done,” says Mary Czerwinski, research manager, human understanding and empathy, at Microsoft Research. Parents who tend to their children in the afternoon make up for that time by working in the evening. Others optimize newfound work-from-anywhere flexibility by varying their hours. Some just require the extra breathing room at night, away from pings and business calls, to really focus. 

After work, do you … get back to work? For some, there’s a new pattern replacing the 9 to 5.

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