The idea that workers are expected to endure 70 percent of their week so they can enjoy the other 30 percent is collective insanity.
Why My Company Moved to a Five 1/2-Hour Workday
We decided to move to a five 1/2 hour workday where everyone works from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. By eliminating an hour-long lunch to 1/2 hr, we only reduced our work time by two hours. Our employees don’t get paid less, and I still expect them to be twice as productive as the average worker. The results have been astounding. This year our small team will generate more revenue then in our past year.
When I tell people my team only works five 1/2 hours a day, their response is always, “That’s nice, but it won’t work for me.” The nine-to-five is so engrained in their minds that they can’t imagine anything else.
But you can reduce your hours by 20 percent and maintain the same level of productivity.
Humans are not machines. Just because you’re at your desk for eight hours doesn’t mean you’re being productive.
Happiness boosts productivity...
Studies show that happier workers are more productive, and it makes sense: Having time to pursue your passions, nurture your relationships, and stay active gives you more energy emotionally and physically.
Fewer hours create scarcity. In their book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much,” Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir write that having less time creates periods of heightened productivity called “focus dividends.” A five-1/2 hour workday offers baked-in time management by forcing you to prioritize high-value activities.
How to Implement a Five 1/2-Hour Workday
Unfortunately, if your job looks the same as it did during the Industrial Revolution, the answer is probably not. Professions that require a 24-hour presence, such as law enforcement, emergency response, and nursing are not good candidates for the 5-hour workday. Nor are jobs that require working in unisonwith a large number of people (such as film production).
But for the vast majority of knowledge workers, clocking fewer hours that generate higher productivity is very manageable. Here’s how to get started:
1. Apply the 80-20 rule.
2. Shift to a production mindset.
3. Nix the “always available” attitude.
One of my biggest objections to moving to a five -1/2 hour workday was reducing our customer service hours. I worried that if we cut our open hours, we’d lose business.
But I realized that we didn’t run a convenience store. Our customers buy through face-face meetings and then communication from there is through email and dropbox. It didn’t matter when we were open as long as our customers knew our email address and we got back to them in time.
So we made the switch, and nothing fell apart. We still get roughly the same number of calls each day, and e-mails are answered within hours.
Understand that even in our instant-gratification society, being available all day isn’t necessary. You just need to communicate when you are available.
4. Use technology to boost efficiency.
The obvious solution was leveraging automation. So we overhauled our website (because we can) and created video tutorials and instructional pdf files to help customers help themselves. Once you put a time constraint on work, it forces you to consider how you can get technology to do the heavy lifting to increase your output.
5. But don’t restrict yourself to a 25-hour week.
Moving my staff to a five-1/2 hour workday was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but today my employees are happier, more productive, and invested in the business.
You can make the leap to a five-1/2 hour workday, too. You just have to shift to a production mindset and let go of the fear. You’ll be amazed by the productivity and freedom you can achieve when you stop mindlessly punching the clock.