The New Rules for Night Owl Workers

Christopher Gang was hired in April 2020 as a software engineer at a health-care tech startup called Cured. Since college, he has done his best work late at night. In his new, fully remote role, with no office commute, he embraced this fact for the first time in his professional life.

“My sweet spot is 2 or 3 in the morning, but if I get into a flow state, I’ll just let myself stay up until 6 or 7 a.m.,” says the 24-year-old, who lives in Dallas. But he kept his night-owlishness to himself for about three months.

“Even if I was working late, I wouldn’t communicate that per se,” he says. He believes a stigma exists against late risers that can affect their professional standing. “But once I gained the trust of my manager, I was allowed to be more flexible.” Now he openly burns the midnight oil and doesn’t worry if his colleagues know.

In our age of remote work, many jobs have never been so untethered from the 9-to-5 paradigm. And a lot of night owls, who do their best work later in the day, are thriving.

But it’s not quite a 24/7 free-for-all. Many newly liberated late workers like Mr. Gang are navigating how to balance their habits with bosses and colleagues who work on more traditional daytime schedules. They’re also trying to avoid burnout themselves.

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