Does the 5-Hour Workday Really Work?

February 3, 2016

12:30 pm

One of the fastest-growing companies hailed by the San Diego Business Journal as San Diego's #1 Fastest Growing Private company in San Diego is no other than Tower Paddle Boards. With already $17 million in sales, it is Number 239 on INC Magazine's Top 500 list of fastest-growing companies.

Tower, established by SEO and marketing expert Stephan Aarstol, has been making waves in the paddle board industry. On January 28 of this year, it will be aired on ABC's Beyond the Tank program.

Besides its stellar success, Tower has been defying work conventions as it adheres to a “beachy lifestyle” peppered exotic team trips and beach parties. But what really catches the attention of many is Tower's adherence to a 5-hour workday that starts at 8 AM and ends at 1 PM.

According to its founder, the 5-hour workday not only defines the company's brand but it is also to give more time to its employees to pursue their individual passions.

Aarstol's inspiration on this bold move is none other than Henry Ford, who revolutionized the workplace in the early 1900s by changing the standard 16-hour workday to 8 hours and doubling workers' wages. And now, Tower is leading the way to bring about another revolution. The question, however, is could a 5-hour workday really work? Stephan Aarstol believes so and here are the reasons why:

It Allows Employees to Work Smart

Gallup conducted a survey in 2014 which revealed that the average American works much longer than the regular 40 hours a week, and 25 percent revealed that they work more than 60 hours every week.

Sitting behind the desk for this long increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and other health problems brought about by a sedentary lifestyle.

Moreover, a longer work period does not necessarily mean that an employee is also productive. Aarstol pointed out that it even distracts employees more because they think they have more time to do their work. Employees become more motivated knowing they can leave at 1 PM and have more time to pursue their own passions, desires, and dreams.

By adopting the 5-hour workday, Aarstol said that employees become more focused and productive because they have to accomplish something within that short five hours.

To make it work, Aarstol encourages his employees to identify unproductive behaviors and focus on the ones that create value and boost productivity. Aside from that, employees become more motivated knowing they can leave at 1 PM and have more time to pursue their own passions, desires, and dreams.

It Improves Work-Life Balance

The five-hour workday might seem like a new concept in the American workplace but not in Sweden. Companies in Sweden are quickly adopting a six-hour workday believing that it can indeed increase productivity.

Experts believe that eight or more hours in the workplace doing the same thing day in and day out becomes stressful leading employees to find things that will distract them from that stressful environment. This results in unproductive behavior with more time to waste and less time to work.

Moreover, economic experts believe that the current 40-hour work week is also encouraging a lot of Americans to develop a “recession mentality” where an employee believes that he or she has to put in more hours to avoid losing their job. Aarstol encourages his employees to identify unproductive behaviors and focus on the ones that create value and boost productivity

On the other hand, a five-hour workday encourages employees to set their own balance. When this happens, employees become happier, motivated, and more engaged – behaviors that lead to increased productivity in the workplace.

Innovative leaders, such as Aarstol, realizes the fact that employees are people, not machines, with their own wants and desires. Moreover, employees develop a sense of contentment because they have more time to pursue their personal goals as well as more time for their families.

With all the benefits and advantages a five-hour workday brings, you might wonder if the same can work for you and your company. For one, Henry Ford was able to make the 8-hour workday work, so there is no reason why the 5-hour workday wouldn't for you. There are still exceptions to the rule, of course.

If you are contemplating about adopting the 5-hour workday, here are some tips and strategies from Stephan Aarstol to keep you started:

Adopt the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle suggests that 80 percent of your output is the product of 20 percent of your efforts. If you are able to identify which of these efforts make you more productive, you will be able to eliminate the unproductive behaviors and accomplish more within 5 hours.

Eliminate the 24/7 Mindset

Stephan Aarstol said that one of his biggest fears, when he decided to adopt the 5-hour workday, was also cutting down the hours of his customer service department. It meant that he could also lose his business if customers didn't have anyone to talk to about their complaints.

Turned out his fears were wrong, and he was right to pursue the 5-hour workday. He said that as long as you communicate to your customers what time you are available, they will be happy to oblige. And when you say you are there at that time, make sure that they can reach you at that time.

Use Technology

Technology is here for a reason and it is definitely to help you become more productive. Aarstol pointed out that the five-hour workday has given them time constraint allowing them to think of ways how to use technology to make work faster and easier.

“When you begin to measure work by output you rather than hours, you will understand that it is possible.”

In Tower's case, it means leveraging automation by utilizing software in the warehouse to reduce their packing and shipping time. It also means educating their customers by creating video tutorials and writing a more comprehensive FAQ page.

Thus, customers can refer to these resources when they have a problem instead of calling customer service.

Aside from this, you can also increase your productivity by setting up automatic trigger-based tasks, using up email auto-responders, and learning to use keyboard macros.

Think of Output, Not of Hours

The first thing people would think why a five-hour workday won't work is because there isn't enough time. However, when you begin to measure work by output rather than hours, you will understand that it is possible.

By shifting to this kind of mindset, you will be able to make the transition work for you. You will be amazed how much productivity you can have in the workplace because your employees have more freedom to pursue their own endeavors.

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