Trying to get the night owls to collaborate at 9 a.m. with the morning people can be, to put it mildly, a struggle. SY/Partners has been working on a new app to help teams find harmony, Teamworks, and through all the team data they’ve been gathering, they found that early risers butting heads with late-nighters to be one of the most common conflicts.
The team member who’s happily firing off at emails at 6 a.m. is a morning lark; the team member whose finest thinking happens post-9-to-5 is a night owl. Each person’s ideal working time is determined by biology, lifestyles, family obligations, etc. Problems arise when shared conventions aren’t established — for example, if an owl logs on mid-morning to finds he’s missed out on an early-bird decision-making email chain. Or a lark is rocked with a steady stream of incoming emails just as she’s powering down for the night.
The best solution is a simple one: team members need to be more considerate of each other.
- Establish set working hours. When are people expected to be on call? Except for emergencies or other situations when it’s all-hands-on-deck, make it clear that team members are not expected to be fielding emails during off-hours.
- Develop a shared language for communicating when the emails require answers. For example, a night owl firing off ideas after hours should write in the subject line: “Please review in the morning.”
- If you’re a team member whose ideal work time falls outside the team’s norm (e.g. the majority is in by 8 a.m., but you like to go to the gym in the morning and start working at 10:30 a.m.), the burden is on you to demonstrate responsiveness. How can you avoid creating bottlenecks and frustrating team members waiting for your input? How can you show your dedication, so that your limited availability doesn’t look like a lack of care or commitment?
Approach this issue proactively by acknowledging it and making moves to work around it, instead of trying to force your night owls into early birds and vice versa, and your team will be much happier.