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How do our morning habits affect our workday?

Date:30 September 2021
Author:Iustina Armasu
Strong morning habits: more or less reattachment to work?
Strong morning habits: more or less reattachment to work?

For my Masterthesis, I looked at the relation between morning habits and how well people reattach to their work, and the effect of these two things on the energy levels of employees.

Reattaching to work
During reattachment you start thinking about your upcoming workday: the tasks you need to complete, the meeting you will have. This is a daily process that happens before a person comes to work. It’s like transferring from your private life into work mode.

The process of reattachment is quite a new concept within organisational psychology. There is some research about it, but what we did not know is when exactly this happens and what the predictors of reattachment are. Does it happen the moment the person wakes up? When you are eating breakfast? We wanted to look into this so we can see what predicts reattachment.

What predicts reattachment?
For our study, we specifically looked at people’s morning habits. There is already research that says morning habits, and the disruption thereof, impact energy at work. For example: if you have coffee every morning, but one day you can’t have your coffee, there is a good chance you’ll be tired the whole day. Other research actually suggests that around 40% of our behaviours are habits, we like to do the same thing every single day. 

We know that people want to use the first hours of the day for their personal life. Have breakfast, walk the dog, help your kids, etcetera. We hypothesised that only after you have done all these daily behaviours, you’re ready to reattach to work and that strong habits you adhere to every day, predict good reattachment.

We had 170 adult employees fill out questionnaires every morning, afternoon and evening for 10 days. We then analysed the data to see how their morning habits affected their reattachment.

The effect of our habits
When we analysed the data we were surprised to find the opposite of our hypothesis: people with strong morning habits show less reattachment. This was very surprising, but I’m happy that we could show that our behaviour outside of work does affect the way we function at work. There is not a lot of research on that, so our conclusions show the importance of looking into that more.
I’d like to do more research to understand why strong morning habits negatively predict reattachment, and because this data was collected before the pandemic hit, it would be incredibly interesting to look at how people behaved while working from home.

For now, I’m going to start my PhD in Organisational Psychology, supervised by Barbara Wisse and Anita Keller, at the beginning of October. We’re going to look at the effect of habits, the pandemic data, I’m really excited about it!

About the author

Iustina Armasu
Iustina Armasu

Iustina (23, Moldovia) came to Groningen when she was 18 to do the Bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Groningen. Then she continued with the Research Master's track Understanding Societal Change, with a specialization in organizational psychology.