There are two types of people in the world: those who spring up when their morning alarm goes off ready to pounce on the day ahead, and those who begrudgingly get out of bed and only start to feel alive as the sun sets.
As it turns out, many young professionals fall firmly into the latter category.
While Tim Cook, Michelle Obama, and Jack Dorsey have had their morning coffee, caught up on emails, and squeezed in a workout before the sun has even risen, many Gen Zers and millennials are opting to start their working day at 6 p.m., according to new research.
Adobe conducted a study of over 5,500 workers across the globe including the U.K., the U.S., and Japan, to find out when different age groups are most productive.
It found that the youngest generation of workers is over three times more likely to prefer logging into their laptops to work well into the night than the oldest generation of workers.
While just 6% of boomers claimed to be most productive from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., this percentage jumped to 26% for Gen Z.
In comparison, 18% of millennials and 13% of Gen Xers are reportedly more productive after hours.
Still, the business world is largely built for early birds, with separate studies consistently showing that night owls have slimmer chances of finding success than early birds.
It perhaps explains why Adobe’s research shows that as workers get older, their nighttime productivity declines: Either working in more senior positions (where a 5 a.m. start isn’t all too uncommon) isn’t compatible with late-night working, or decades of working against the grain to accommodate the working world can change one’s productivity preferences.
But as remote working becomes increasingly the norm and with Gen Z set to take up 25% of the workforce by 2025, could we see businesses shifting their working hours later to accommodate young night-owl professionals?
Around 70% of young workers said they would quit their job in favor of one with more control over their work schedule, meanwhile, two-thirds would change jobs for the option to work remotely. So employers who don’t offer flexible working policies risk missing out on attracting the next cohort of talent.
In fact, right now half of Gen Z workers plan to leave their employer because of time and productivity struggles, according to Adobe’s research.
“Younger generations of employees are issuing an unspoken mandate or sorts to companies that workplace and schedule flexibility are essential not only to attracting and retaining them, but also to ensuring they can work effectively,” the researchers say.
The study also found that schedule and location flexibility was cited as one of the top reasons employees stay with their employer.
Yet according to the research only 19% of businesses in the U.S., 22% of businesses in the U.K. and 12% of businesses in Japan, offer flexible working hours, despite the fact that around half of workers surveyed in all of those populations wish they could work when it is most convenient.
But this is slowly changing. According to the research, in the last six months over a third of managers globally have introduced flexible working hours to their firm.
“These adaptations are straightforward but don’t come overnight—they require fresh perspectives, updated trust in employee competence and reliability, restructuring of outdated processes, and implementation of the right tools,” the researchers add.