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5-Hour Workdays: Myth or Possibility?

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Working an eight-hour workday is what we have all come to expect, at least here in America. Would you be surprised to find out that some companies are trying out five-hour workdays and that they’re actually totally working?

Stephan Aarstol is like most entrepreneurs. He wants success not only for himself, but his employees as well. Aarstol knew how to manage his own time almost perfectly, so much so that he was always working fewer hours than his friends who worked corporate jobs. When he started his business, Tower Paddle Boards, he decided to hire like-minded individuals. Those that could easily manage their workflow and get their duties done in a timely manner. At first, like any other company, he began with an eight-hour work day. It only made sense to Aarstol to free up his employees’ afternoons for the bliss of being in the outdoors, which is exactly what his company promoted. It was decided then, on June 1st, 2015, to switch things up.

He implemented a five-hour workday as a three-month test. Everyone in the company gets to leave “early,” working a shift of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s been months since the testing phase and they’re still on that schedule. How is his company managing it? We all have to give our lives up 40 hours per week to a soul-sucking job in order to make ends meet, right? Apparently not. We here at The Methodology Blog have talked about standard work hours before and fully support doing what works best for you company, especially if that means working less hours or having the ability to telecommute. Aarstol went into some of the details on how he achieved this successful transition and why it works.


© Flickr user GONZALO BAEZA

1. Apply the 80-20 rule.

Most of us have heard about the Pareto Principle. If you haven’t, it goes like this:

80% of production comes from 20% of efforts.

Identifying that 20% is critical so you can cut out all the background nonsense that gets in the way.

2. Shift to a production mind-set.

We have been so conditioned to measure our work in hours that we have forgotten what the key end result to working actually is. The work you put out at the end of the day is more important than how many hours you can say you threw into it. Aarstol took it a step further:

“The 5% profit-sharing we began offering at the same time we shortened the workday was mean to help my team shift to a production mind-set. This way, employees are rewarded for how productive they are, not how long they’re on the clock.”

3. Nix the “always available” attitude.

Aarstol admitted that one of his biggest issues with cutting the workweek to 25 hours is that the customer service department wouldn’t always be available. Wouldn’t any company lose most of their business if they aren’t there the moment a customer needs them? Turns out, customers will work around your schedule if you’re offering a worthy product or service.

4. Use technology to boost efficiency.

Technology can be your best friend! There’s no shame in automating parts of a job which will free up human beings to actually put their efforts elsewhere.

“To allow our warehouse and customer service employees to work 30% less (without growing our staff), we had to creatively figure out how to serve the same number of customers in less time.”

Not only did they automate their warehouse, but even some of their customer service was offered via video tutorials.

5. Don’t restrict yourself to a 25-hour week.

By not restricting themselves to an absolute, they’ve become more productive. Every employee at Tower Paddle Boards knows they clock out at 1 p.m. every single day and not feel a single drop of guilt. Yet every single employee has and will put in extra time to get things done, which definitely doesn’t leave a feeling of bitterness or resentment now that they have the freedom of a 25-hour workweek.

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Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea transplanted from Illinois to South Carolina. She loves to write, read, and spend time with her dog and her family. Alyssa is very active on social media. She has been part of the AccelaWork team since 2013.
Alyssa Shea

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