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A Case for the 5 Hour Workday

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops working on these posts. 3 o’clock is my favorite time of the day because it’s when employees amble in to waste time until 5. The place gets filled with their complaints about how dissatisfied they are with life, something that inspires half of these posts.

Noticing that made me realize, if I ever start a company, I probably will scrap the 3–5 part of the day. C’mon, I would just be wasting everybody’s time. The ROI is pretty low. Why don’t I just let them go and pick up their kids from school, then maybe they’ll develop some sort of loyalty?

I recently wrote about the H-I-I-T program, and one of my friends said she didn’t like it because she needed a clear-cut separation between work and home. So instead, let’s look at the benefits of the five-hour workday. You only work from 9–2. The thing is, if you’re focused for 5 hours every day, you’ll learn to be more productive and efficient. Read this case study where Stephan Aarstol, co-founder and CEO of Tower Paddle Boards makes a case for the 5-hour workday (also the title of his book);

Here are a few points about why people need to work for only 5 hours a day quoted from the article;
1)The type of work done today is knowledge-work: learning, idea generation, and communication. Thanks to technology advances, all of these things can be done in a fraction of the time they took to do previously.
2) The big lie of the knowledge-working world is that we are really doing eight hours of work in our eight-hour days. The truth is we’re doing about two-three hours of real work, just taking eight hours to do it.
3) The top talent is not just a little bit better than average talent, they are a magnitude better. With the five-hour workday, knowledge workers have now moved into a world of abundance, not scarcity. Beyond a certain level you can’t enhance their lives with more money. But you can do so by giving them the only scarce thing left — time.

But maybe companies will be very reluctant about this, because there is hat one person in ten who does work the eight hours.

Let’s rethink this…

How about keeping the 8 hour workday, but let the person work for only 5 hours in the office and spend the rest of the time ‘learning and training’. It’s known if you want your employees to grow, they need to have a deliberate practice in place. That means, focusing on their weak points, learning and building their skills in that area. So give them 3 hours every day to grow and learn…they just don’t need to do it in the office. They can do it online, or off-site in a training workshop.

But then we would need a way to make sure they’re actually growing…their performance should be an indicator, don’t you think?
So how much work do you really get done per day?

What are your thoughts on the topic? Tweet me @ahechoes to let me know.

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Published inCareerLife LessonsPersonal Development
  • Hanan

    I agree that 8 hours is too much and probably no one really works that much in a work day. For me, though, no schedule would ever work, even if it was a 3-hour work day. My work is never done on a schedule. The energy and motivation to work is not a function of time. Sometimes I work from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed, and sometimes I can’t work for several weeks. I do manage to get things done, though, so I don’t think it’s a problem; it’s just my natural energy function which is more complex than any schedule. I think the only thing that works for me is to be evaluated on long-term outcomes.