In this document I lay some of my thoughts on the subject of working during non-office hours (nights, late afternoons, etc). I’ve wrote all this (April, 2003) after working nights for some time in Network Operations Center of Thunderworx.
As most people, I had my share of working in all sorts of places like disco’s, restaurants, and rentals. Last few years I’ve spent working as a system administrator. All of these jobs have one thing in common: they all might push you to working late in the afternoon or evening, or even night, or early morning.
Each person has different views on working during non-office hours (I consider office hours to be the time roughly from 08:00 until 18:00). I will discuss few issues of mine that I have came up during my experience. This article might help you if you are considering to start working late or early, or if you have already started and don’t feel very good about it.
I will start with description of major advantages (at least to me) in working during non-standard times. For you, these may vary and you might even consider some of my advantages as disadvantages. Whatever, here it comes.
If you are in the office job like myself, you might be sensitive to noise during your working period. By noise I mean all the distraction you get from the colleagues, phone calls, mobiles ringing in the office, visitors, and the like. Well, you get a lot less noise, if you are working late at night or early in the morning. The reason is obvious – everyone is out of the office, while you are in there.
Of course, that is not true if you are working in the place like disco. But disco’s have their own non-standard hours, which are actually standard working hours for most of the people. Did I get you confused yet?
Another pain for standard times workers is traffic jams, which slow you to a crawl when trying to get to the office, or back home, or going out for a lunch break. You don’t have any of these, when you are working when most people don’t.
Of course, the situation may vary depending on the place you live in. For myself though, it works.
Most of the non-standard time workers get paid extra working during non-standard times. And it doesn’t matter if they are more comfortable working during non-standard time or not. They get paid anyway. That is one of the most important advantages, considering the fact that we are talking about job here.
It is an irritating experience for a lot of people to find themselves in the situation when they cannot visit other offices, like post office, or maybe some shop, due to the reason that everything is open during the office hours, when person himself or herself is working in the office. You start your work, the shop you need opens. You finish you your work, the shop you need closes. If you working during non-standard office hours, you can easier adopt to working hours of others.
Of course, working during non-standard hours has few disadvantages. I will cover them in this section.
The biggest problem with working during non-standard office hours I’ve found to be adaptation of other people to my new schedule. People just don’t know anymore if you are awake and at the office, or if you are sleeping after night shift. You will have to keep people more informed if you want you social relations to stay on the same level.
You will also often find yourself in the situation when you have to miss going out with others due to the reason that you are working. I myself don’t find this to be a huge problem though, since most people with who I go out, are working in non-standard working hours too and we have to better arrange our timing anyway.
Most of the places you would go for lunch during normal day will be closed around your new lunch time. Therefor, you should solve the food problem before you even start working during non-standard working hours.
Tips and hints
During my work experience I’ve found (or I’ve been told) few things which make life easier when working late or early. In this section I will try to cover them.
Plain and simple: get yourself an alarm clock, if you don’t have one. Get yourself another alarm clock even if you already have one. You will need it. If you haven’t ever had a problem waking up, you will start now.
As I have already mentioned, food might make your working experience as ugly as hell, or as good as heaven. Solve the food supplies problem before you start working on a new schedule. You can cook at home and have it all wrapped and saved for yourself. Or you can use take away facilities from a number of places on your way to the office. You can also investigate night food spots in the place you live to keep your options open. If you are of ideas, you can always find a sandwich or something in the kiosk on the way. Pizza deliveries also work until late or round a clock. Use them.
With your new working hours, you will have to rearrange your whole day schedule. You will have to wake up at different time then you used to. You will have to go to bed at different time then you used to. You will have to eat and rest at different time then you used to. Plan you new day before you change to your new schedule.
Easiest thing to do is to start with you normal day and rotate it round the clocks as much hours as your new office hours require. For example, if you were waking up at 08:00am for your office day to start at 09:00am and your new office day will start from 10:00pm, then you better start waking up at 09:00pm. This way you will be able to keep your routines the same. Changing routines is the most difficult thing to do with new schedule.
Sometimes you have a choice between several shifts that you can use for your office day. If you are in this lucky situation, I have a two tips for you.
Firstly, use different shifts. Different office hours will disperse your schedule more around the clock then anything else, making it easier to adjust to the rest of the world.
Secondly, while using different shifts, try to take as many shifts at one time as possible. It is much easier to go through the working week if you schedule stays the same during several days. Changing schedule is difficult, therefor you should do it as less as possible.
When selecting your shifts, try to make shifts at the beginning g of week to be roughly in the same schedule as your weekend. For example, during the weekend I usually wake up in the late afternoon, and stay up until late at night. My choice of shifts for the beginning of the week would be to keep me in bad until late afternoon. So, my working week kind of continues the day schedule of my weekend. This minimizes the amount of times I need to change my schedule, which makes it easier for me to go through the week.
If you are so lucky that you can install a webcam in the office, you if you have it already installed, use it. Webcam will help your social relations, since people will have a way to make sure you are awake before calling you. Your family will love the webcam too. Even your boss will have a great pleasure making sure you are at your working place in 04:00am.
Working during non-standard office hours may be a pleasant experience which makes your life easier and helps you raise some funds. It may, on the other hand, be and exhausting and painful experience which will make you hate yourself. You productivity can go rocket-high up or fall earth-core down. It’s all depends on how good you planned the whole thing and much thought you put into it. Learn from your experience and adjust your schedule to fit your life better. At the end of the day, you work is not the only issue to consider.