What are core hours? Does it benefit productivity?

Are you somebody who desires more flexibility at work? Do you find that working during a small window of the day to be more productive? As I discussed in my previous post from last week, I laid out a few options for how work will change in the years ahead. I asked the question, “What are core hours?” which was brought up in the previous post. Core hours are not a new concept- it’s been around for a while and what I’ll be writing about in this post.

What are core hours? Core hour schedule

Core hours means when employees are required to be in the office at the same time. Employees have the option to work up to half of their day in the office. The rest of the day can be spent elsewhere, such as working from home. The time outside of core hours can be flexible, and a nice bonus to the work-life balance issue.

An example of a core hour work schedule can be the following: An employee has free time in the morning, with their start time not until 10 am. They’ll work from 10 am-2 pm, then clock out and spend the rest of their day doing other things. It can be personal things or working from home for the other half of their day. 

Flexible work hours

For businesses that implement core hour work policies, they usually range in four-five hour work periods. They can be from 10 am-2 pm, 11 am-3 pm, or during the early morning and evening hours. Whatever works best for a business’s needs, core hours can be beneficial either way.

Core hours provide some flexibility for workers in managing their workdays. They’re not subject to a 9-5 schedule or working five full days in an office setting. The idea of working a few hours at the office appeals to some people. 

In this post, I’ll write about some benefits to working core hours. Also, I’ll point out some of the cons of adopting core hour work policies. The following points include:

 1.) Allowing people to work together during peak time

 2.) Saving on travel time

 3.) Higher productivity and retention rate

4.) Doing most of your work at home

  1. What are core hours?

Allow people to work together during peak time

What are core hours- 1

One main component of core hours is the ability to work during a current peak period. Peak time is when you’re likely to perform your best at work. For example, someone may do better working from late morning to the middle of the afternoon. At the same time, others may perform their best throughout the morning hours.

When employers set core hours for their employees, there’s an understanding that some things need to get done during those hours. If they need to have meetings and so forth, then that time should be spent wisely. If core hours are set between 10 am-2 pm, there’s a sense of urgency to stay focused. So if those hours take place between peak periods, more likely people will focus on things that matter the most.

My preferred peak time

Personally, my peak period usually runs from late morning to mid-afternoon most days. Some days may differ, but the hours between 10 am-3 pm tend to be my best performing hours. How core hours would be set up during those peak hours would be beneficial at any job I’m at. I know I would use that time efficiently and make sure I’m staying on track of my work.

 Save time on travel

What are core hours- 2

Although commuting wouldn’t be eliminated, individuals would save time on traveling to and from work. They may not be going during the usual rush hour, and they wouldn’t be doing it each day. If you work from home some days, that will cut out commute time for sure.

Even if you have a partially remote work schedule, it would still work out. Some days you can work a couple of hours at the office, or maybe work one full day at the office each week. On the other days, you may have the option to work from home. So setting up core hours on some days would help workers save more time from traveling. 

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Higher productivity and retention rate

Core hours can help with employee productivity if implemented correctly. According to one study conducted by Flexjobs, remote work was preferred by most of the respondents. About 54% of respondents chose their home over the office to get their most important job done. On the other hand, around 19% said they would want the office outside regular hours to get work done. 

What are core hours- 3

Although more people may prefer working at home, setting core hours plays a vital role in employee productivity. If they’re likely to be more efficient during a specific set of hours, then that should be considered. Or if they happen to get more done outside of core hours, that can be helpful as well. Either way, it helps retain good employees who have a lot to contribute to their work.

Do more work at home

With an established schedule of core hours each week, it allows more time for individuals to work at home. If you only have to work a few hours at the office some days, it leaves the room putting in more hours at home. If people want to spend half their days working from home, that can help make equal time working at the office and home.

What to do at home or in the office

What are core hours- 4

When it comes to core hours, it depends on each individual what they intend to get done. If they want to utilize their time on deep work at the office, that might be an option. Or if that’s better suited at home, they can do that. Someone like me who gets easily distracted in an office environment might save my essential work at home. But each person is different. If that flexibility is allowed, core hours can help determine which tasks can be done better at home or in an office setting.

Downsides of core hours (very few of them)

Core hours can provide many benefits to accommodate work schedules. However, there are some downsides to implementing core hours. A few common ones may include the following:

  1. Not being consistent: Employers need to make these schedules compatible (weekly basis) to make core hours effective.
  2. Hours can be the same: If there’s a set schedule between 10 am-2 pm, then everyone has to be in at the same time. It goes back to the 9-5 idea. So maybe switching up the days here and there might be a better option.
  3. Not a strictly set schedule: Unlike with 9-5, core hours can be set up based on a business’s needs. Core hours may not be in place each day, so that it may apply a couple of days throughout the week.


As I mentioned earlier, core hours have been around for some time. Some companies have implemented them, with mixed results here and there. Although there are some downsides to core hours, it’s another excellent option to provide flexible work arrangements.

Not everyone is suited for a 9-5 work schedule so that core hours can be another alternative. Time will tell if core hours become more common in the workplace. As we move into 2020 and beyond, the workplace will change drastically (and for the better).

Based on the benefits that I’ve laid out, core hours are seen as another alternative to address work-life balance and productivity concerns. If there is a need for employees to work in an office (but less often), core hours will continue to remain relevant in the years ahead. 

Do you work at a company that has a core hours work policy? Or are core hours being considered where you work at?

Leave a comment below and please share this post with others. 

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Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.




2 thoughts on “What are core hours? Does it benefit productivity?”

  1. Your blog on Core Hours is quite an eye-opener. It has brought to light the fact that people can be most productive if they spend their time well and companies also allow for some flexibility. Core hours provide flexibility for workers in managing their work days and timings. They’re not subject to a 9-5 grueling schedule or working five full days in an office setting. The idea of working a few hours at the office appeals to some people. The rest of the time can be spent multi-tasking while working from home.

    COVID is going to change forever the way we look at office work. Let’s see where it takes us all.


    • Thank you very much, Aparna. I’m glad to know you enjoyed reading this post.

      Yes, core hours comes with a lot of benefits. Especially when it comes to flexibility, it can help out a lot. The modern-day workplace has and will continue to change.

      You’re right about how COVID-19 will change the workplace moving forward. As I said, it’ll be interesting to see how a post-COVD era will look like. I, for one, am very optimistic about the future in the long-term. So we’ll see.

      Thank you for your insights- much appreciated!


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