My very difficult (to learn) and oddly timed (for me) swimming lessons that I struggled through, reminded me of the ‘triple peak’ phenomena in hybrid work. ‘Triple Peak’ phenomena in hybrid work is a research that Microsoft published in 2022. What is triple peak? What does swimming lessons have anything to do with Triple peak and research? Let’s explore this phenomena of triple peak in hybrid work, in this post.
Triple Peak Phenomena in Hybrid Work
Think about a typical day at office. After the commute to get to office you get some work done and take a quick break (before or after). This window of work for most of us at office is usually between 9 to 11am. Next window is after lunch, if it’s not too heavy a lunch that is. Our most productive hours apparently are between 2-4pm. We then undertake the long commute back home. So, we have two bursts of activity, when we are in office.
In remote or hybrid work, with commute being removed from the picture, employees are experiencing three bursts or peaks of activity. The erstwhile 9am – 11am and 2pm -4pm continues. Employees now have a third burst of activity between 7pm -8pm. Thereby making it three bursts or peaks of activity in a day. Aptly called the ‘Triple peak’ phenomena of hybrid work.
Swimming and Triple Peak
The triple peak started to make sense to me with my swimming experience. Thanks to the chilly weather in this part of the world, an early morning or late evening swim was very hard to pull off (no heated pools either 😊). Instead, I chose to take a break during the day for a quick swim. Hitting my keyboard and getting back to work after that. My very own triple peak in action.
But it also left me with a lot of questions. What causes triple peaks in employees? I started jotting them down, a few I listed in no order are:
Where workers choose to take a mid-day break. For any reason – exercise, child care, rest.
Do employees’ login later to get some quiet uninterrupted time. Trying to get more work done? find a quiet space to think, maybe?
Do employees’ login later because that is the expectations of the team? The boss sends emails late and expects a reply. You are bracketed as less committed if you don’t?
Or did all of us possibly, squander away the day and realise there was work left? Leaving us no choice but to work later and catch up?
Impact(s) of Triple Peak
This leads us to question the ripple effects or other impact caused by the triple peak working phenomena.
The psychological impact: This feeling that we are connected to work all the time. How does this impact us?
Rest and rejuvenation: How should employees balance the real need for rest and rejuvenation.
Burnout? If the same employee is triple peaking every single day. How do we mitigate the very real possibility of a burnout?
Work hours increased during the pandemic. Research is further indicating that with hybrid work – triple peak phenomena is possibly here to stay as well. If those are the scenarios for the future, how can we manage triple peak better for ourselves and our teams?
Managing Triple Peak:
Here are three ideas for you to consider, build on and try with your teams.
Allowing employees and teams the flexibility to determine where and when they work as long as work gets done. As long as team members set clear and well understood expectations with each other, they are not obligated to stay online because their bosses or peers are.
2. Emphasis on asynchronous work
Are you somebody who typically finds yourself getting a third burst of energy and time during the latter part of the evening? A strategy to ensure that you remain productive but you don’t inconvenience the others on your team, is to pick asynchronous tasks for that time slot. If you are the team lead, then it is even more important for you to do so. If you are sending out emails at that time, you could take a tip from Richard Branson’s ask me anything series. Add a disclaimer at the top of your email, saying ‘You do not need to respond to this email till tomorrow’
3. High Quality leisure
The quality of our leisure determines how rested and recharged we feel. Not just the amount of time spent in leisure. Here is a resource which details out the 7 types of rest and leisure we need. And here is a paradox of leisure. Activities that get us to create – like painting, gardening or exercises can seem like they need more effort than we have the energy for after a day’s work. These kind of leisure leave us more rested than doomscrolling any feed!
We hope these ideas were useful. We tried exploring the triple peak phenomena as a visual to think it through. Sharing the same here. Please feel free to draw and build on this further. The links for the resources and research quoted are listed below too.