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Are You Ready For Daylight Saving Time?

Ah, spring. The time of year we pull up the dead plants in our yards, stock up on allergy meds, and see a lot of pasty white legs on joggers.

We also get to experience Daylight Saving Time, the wonderful man-made invention that involves moving the clocks ahead one hour (unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii) and then not knowing what the hell time it is for a few days afterward. It's good we change the clocks on Saturday night, because we need Sunday to remember what a Circadian rhythm feels like. The first day of extra daylight is always a slightly surreal experience. How can it be noon already? Why does everything feel so rushed? It’s lunchtime, but we’re not hungry because we just ate breakfast. It’s still light outside at dinnertime, but we’re not quite ready for dinner. So we put on our shorts and go for a jog.

The real fun starts on Monday morning when it’s time to get ready to face the day. 6:30 a.m. feels like 5:30 a.m. Our internal rhythm is totally off, but we have to make the Monday 8:00 a.m. departmental meeting. The boss will be talking strategy, but our minds will be stuck in cold cereal mode, because we’d still be at home wolfing down a bowl of Cheerios if the clock hadn’t moved ahead an hour.

If you’re a manager, you should expect employees to look a bit tired on the first Monday after the clocks move ahead (this year, it's Monday, March 14). Studies have shown that employee productivity falls in the days following the time change, simply because our human brains need time to adjust. Some studies report a spike in employee accidents on the job, and this assumes employees won’t be involved in a car accident on the way to work.

You might think about relaxing your standards a little bit on the Monday following the time change because employees will probably feel quite out of it. They might not admit it, but they’ll be feeling it. You might move the 8 a.m. meeting an hour or two ahead, or even a few days ahead. Expect basic mistakes all day long, too. Oh geez, how did I file that under “C” instead of “B”? Why are my spreadsheet numbers so off today? How did I hit “reply all” to that message? Oops.

On the flip side, employees will be more productive once they adjust to the time change. They’ll also be happier, because the days will be longer and spring will be in the air. The time change will have been worth the pain. The allergy meds will kick in and our spreadsheets will blossom like our potted plants. All we need is a little patience.

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