How To Hack Your Job Productivity By ‘Chronoworking’ and Knowing Your Chronotype

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Feb 28, 2024

A new trend in the modern workforce is emerging that adherents are calling “chronoworking.”

Supporters of chronoworking believe that by aligning work hours with a person’s natural circadian rhythm, called a chronotype, they can achieve higher levels of productivity and mental acuity than they ever thought possible. More people are ditching traditional work hours and fine-tuning their work day to push their performance over the top.

Break the Shackles of the 9-5

One of the benefits of the struggle the world went through during the COVID-19 pandemic is that people figured out that remote work and nontraditional working schedules could actually be viable. 

An office worker moving from his work desk.

Source: Bench Accounting/Unsplash

New-age companies saw an opportunity to innovate their workforce by experimenting with employee hours, per Forbes. These companies figured there might be some overlap in increased productivity goals and allowing employees to work when they want.


Enter Ellen C. Scott

The term chronoworking was coined by Ellen C. Scott in her “Working on Purpose” newsletter.

The homepage for the "Working on Purpose" newsletter on substack.

Source: Working on Purpose Newsletter

Scott devotes the newsletter to extolling the virtues of chrono work, including regularly publishing an advice column called Work Woe. Scott responds personally to people asking about chronoworking, helping them navigate its challenges and overcoming obstacles like negative bosses.

2024 Will Be the Year of Change

In one portion of the newsletter, Scott mentions that 2024 will be the year that employers around the world begin to take chronoworking seriously.

A man dressed in a light blue shirt talks on the phone and checks his watch

Source: Freepik

Companies will “be looking more deeply into how our body clocks and natural dips and rises in energy should define our working day,” she said.

Matching Work Hours with Personal Chronotypes

Essentially, a focus on chronoworking would allow employees to choose schedules that align with their individual “chronotypes” or the hours they naturally go to sleep.

A woman is pictured as she lies sleeping on a bed in her home

Source: Freepik

Simply put, a person would pick their work hours based on their natural circadian rhythm.

The Four Main Chronotypes

According to Michael Breus, an American clinical psychologist and sleep doctor, there are four major chronotypes.

A man dressed in a blue shirt is pictured working on his laptop in the evening

Source: Freepik

According to a survey carried out by Breus, over 55% of people reach peak productivity between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., 15% work better late at night, a separate 15% prefer early mornings, and 10% have a varying chronotype.


Working Outside of Peak Productivity Hours

Due to the traditional 9-5 work hours, many Amercians find themselves working a set schedule that seldom aligns with whats best for them.

A woman dressed in a dark jacket yawns while seated at her work desk

Source: Freepik

One study carried out at the beginning of 2024 found that 94% of people claim they worked outside of their most productive hours.


Chronoworking Becoming Mainstream

While it has certainly seen an increase in popularity since the pandemic, chronoworking isn’t a new idea.

A man dressed in a red shirt works from home while his wife talks on the phone in the background

Source: Freepik

According to Drik Buyens, a professor of HR management at Vlerick Business School in Brussels, working from home during COVID allowed chronoworking to become more mainstream.


Finding Out When You’re Most Productive

Buyens continues by explaining that due to all the extra time people had at home during the pandemic, they began to find out when they were most productive.

A woman pictured seated at her home desk as she works on a project

Source: Freepik

“No longer do we all spend an hour or so on a commute between the set times of around seven to nine in the morning, and we can truly understand when we are most productive and how to get the most out of our job,” he said (via the BBC).


Flexa Leading the Way

Flexa, a London-based job platform, has 17 employees working for them, and according to CEO Molly Johnson-Jones, they all practice chronoworking.

Two co-workers pictured working together at a white desk in their office

Source: Freepik

Speaking with BBC Worklife, Molly said some employees begin their work day in the early morning hours, whereas others start in the afternoon and work until late in the evening.


Finding the Right Fit

“It’s nonsensical that we all need to be working together all at one time. You get far more out of people if you operate around different chronotypes,” said Molly.

A man dressed in a pink shirt smiles as he takes a break from work to play with his daughter

Source: Freepik

“The approach has the added benefit of normalizing flexible hours for parents or those with other responsibilities that make it tricky to stick to 9-to-5 restrictions, ” she adds. “It levels the playing field.”


Benefits Outweigh the Negatives

According to Johnson-Jones, the benefits of allowing employees to align their work hours with their chronotype greatly outweigh the negative effects.

A small group of co-workers pictured celebrating together with hands in the air

Source: Freepik

“Some people are morning people, some prefer the evening, and some are bang in the middle. We’re all different, and so we can’t be expected to thrive in the same environment,” she said.