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< Productivity Glossary
Working Hours

What are working hours?

Working hours are set periods of time throughout the week when an employee is scheduled, available, and expected for work. These hours can vary depending on the individual job, company policies, work schedules, and personal preferences.

Here are some key stats around working hours for employees:

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the primary federal law governing working hours and overtime pay. However, remember that many states have their own laws that may be more protective of employees than the FLSA.

Under the FLSA, most non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay (one and a half times their regular rate of pay) for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, there are many exemptions to this rule.

Federal and state laws also have various other protections for employees, such as limitations on work hours for minors, meal and rest breaks, and laws regarding timekeeping and recordkeeping.

How do employers and employees track working hours?

There are several ways employers and employees track working hours, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • Time clocking & tracking: Traditional time clock systems, where employees physically clock in and out using cards or biometrics, remain prevalent in many industries. Digital time tracking systems have gained popularity, allowing employees to log hours using electronic means, either through a dedicated device or integrated software.
  • Hourly schedules: Many jobs follow a fixed hourly schedule, and employers often use scheduling software to create, manage, and communicate these schedules to employees. Hourly schedules are prominent in industries like retail, hospitality, and healthcare, where specific staffing levels are necessary to meet demand.
  • Calendar hours: Calendar time tracking automatically tracks how much time people spend in meetings, on tasks, and in overtime over an extended period, typically a week or month, rather than on a daily basis. This method allows for a more comprehensive overview of productivity and work-life balance trends across all employees vs. monitoring individual employee performance.
  • Attendance systems: These systems may include a combination of time clocks, biometric systems, and software to manage attendance, working hours, and overtime.
  • Integrated HR software: Many companies use integrated human resources (HR) software that includes time and attendance tracking features, which can streamline payroll processes.

How to set working hours in your calendar? 

Here’s how to set working hours across popular calendar apps:

  • Google Calendar: Google provides a feature that allows users to set specific ranges for working hours. This feature serves to alert others when scheduling meetings, indicating whether the proposed time falls within or outside the person's designated working hours. 
  • Outlook Calendar: Outlook similarly allows you to specify your meeting hours and the individual days of your workweek. By default, the work week is set from Monday through Friday with a work day extending from 8 AM to 5 PM.
  • Reclaim.ai: Reclaim.ai lets you define separate personal, working, and meeting hours in your settings. You pick days and time slots for each type. It then uses these preferences to find ideal times for scheduling your Smart Events, so work stays in work hours, personal events happen off the clock, and meetings fit between them.

What are the benefits of using working hours?

Working hours do more than just dictate an employee's physical presence at a desk (whether at home or in the office); they serve several vital purposes that benefit both employee productivity and overall workflow efficiency.

1. Work-life balance

Defined working hours create a clear boundary between your professional and personal life. By establishing the time dedicated to work, you can consciously switch off and devote your energy to other aspects of your well-being. This balance significantly reduces stress, promotes increased happiness, and ultimately leads to a more fulfilling life.

2. Clearly communicates your availability

Defining your working hours communicates your availability to colleagues and clients. This allows meetings and deadlines to be scheduled within your designated time frame, minimizing disruptions and missed opportunities. Clear communication of your working hours promotes efficient collaboration and avoids the frustration of missed connections.

3. Recognizing time gaps

By mapping out your working hours, you gain a clear picture of your day's structure. This allows you to identify gaps and pockets of free time that can be effectively used for personal errands, appointments, or even short breaks for mental rejuvenation. 

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