3 Ways to Embrace a Nonlinear Workday

The new world of work is adopting a host of evolving norms. A nonlinear workday is one of them. Here’s how this seasoned executive handles the task.
nonlinear workday

I’m lucky enough to work in the exciting role of leading a global enterprise business for a high-growth software company.

I started working at Bullhorn Inc. in 2007 as a staff accountant and then ascended the sales ranks to my current position of vice president, global enterprise strategy. Along the way, I got married, became a parent and started advising emerging technology companies in a hypergrowth phase. It’s been an unbelievable ride, but not without the complexities that come with leading diverse teams across the globe, trying to fit everyone and everything into a day, week, month and year.

The journey has taught me the value of emotional intelligence, the importance of a solid leadership team and the significance of creating incredible customer experiences. My career has also allowed me to push my boundaries as a leader, friend, father and husband. Looking back, without a specific strategy to manage time and priorities, I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am today, now reaching for more opportunities.

Since my role transcends the typical — or “linear” 9-to-5 workday — it’s helped me be selective and deliberate about my work style and commitments to maintain an effective balance. Some days can start with 4 a.m. ET communications — either client conference calls, WhatsApp group messages or email — with my team in the U.K. and can possibly end with 9 p.m. ET communications with my colleagues in Asia-Pacific.

Over the past decade, I’ve developed three strategies that have not only helped me maximize my time, but have also made me a stronger leader:

  1. Scrap calls in favor of instant messaging

Instant messaging sparks collaboration among my team in real time as opposed to scheduling meetings in advance to discuss strategy and other significant projects. Using messaging platforms such as WhatsApp have helped unite my team to become more proactive. I segment my conversations into groups such as sales leadership team, deal pursuits, etc., so everyone can remain updated about progress and can tackle any requests urgently. Nothing gets bottlenecked or lost in emails or unreturned phone calls. Since embracing instant-messaging capabilities across my global team, I estimate my email has reduced by 60 percent.

  1. Schedule breaks throughout the day

It’s paramount to always force time for personal activities and family commitments. While it may seem hard or impossible to block the time to enjoy your favorite activities as you’re facing a hectic day, taking breaks re-energizes yourself and opens your mind. I carve out an hour to go to the gym every day, have a block dedicated to quiet thinking and wake up my boys whenever I am home. Never compromise the activities that are most important to you because these activities make you who you are, and your company is depending on you to be the best you all the time.

  1. Ask your teammates for flexibility and give it in return

Successfully embracing a nonlinear workday must be a two-way street. I’m not afraid to ask teammates for their flexibility because it shows that I value collaboration and the human side of producing great results. My team deserves the same flexibility to manage their work streams and personal goals as well. The key is setting clear communication expectations, driving a culture of accountability and keeping everyone bought into the game plan.

Ryan Murphy is vice president, global enterprise strategy, for Bullhorn Inc., the global leader in CRM and operations software for the staffing industry.