Have you read The Five Hour Workday by Stephan Aarstol or the The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss? Both speak to the power of technology and how much faster businesses can get things done now. In the past 40 years, productivity has increased over 80% yet we continue to follow the old 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday routine.
According to Aarstol, the 8-hour workday is set up for the body, not the mind. The body can do 8 hours of work—but not the mind. Studies have shown that the average person can only work 52 minutes before their mind is shot and then they need a 17-minute break to recover.
Even in a manual labor–based business we are becoming more of a knowledge worker with all the technology that’s become available in the past years. Using the printing industry as an example, we used to scan hard copy artwork, print film, manually impose the film on plastic masks, take the masks to a vacuum frame and expose a metal printing plate.
Now, art files are sent electronically, imposed on a computer screen and then sent to a plate maker as a digital file. Hours of manual labor have been removed from the printing pre-press process, saving physical space, labor, time and money. The same savings are also accruing in the press room and bindery. We simply don’t need to work as long and hard as in the past but we do need to use our minds more sitting in front of computer screens.
According to vouchercloud, a mobile app and online platform, the average UK office worker spends a considerable amount of time procrastinating during their workday.
They have found employees spend a total of two hours and 53 minutes working productively. I suspect the statistics are similar in the US.
The study looked at the activities done instead of work. Respondents were allowed to select more than one option if more than one applied:
1. Checking social media – 47%
2. Reading news websites – 45%
3. Discussing out of work activities with colleagues – 38%
4. Making hot drinks – 31%
5. Smoking breaks – 28%
6. Text/instant messaging – 27%
7. Eating snacks – 25%
8. Making food in office – 24%
9. Making calls to partner/friends- 24%
10. Searching for new jobs – 19%
Based on this data I decided to implement the 5-hour workday at Clarke, Inc. about 12 months ago. We had already shortened Friday hours during the summer for many years with no negative impact—so why not try it every day?
The results have been outstanding. We have experienced no noticeable impact in customer satisfaction or our bottom line. In fact, we have experienced greater employee satisfaction and improved profits.
Our sales are up approximately 8% and profits are up approximately 2%. Many of our clients and suppliers have expressed the desire to go a 5-hour workday just like us. I believe this empathy is what is driving our profitability. Our vendors and clients want Clarke, Inc.’s 5-hour workday to be successful so they can prove to their management it can be successful in their businesses, too.
Today time is the new money. Many workers are more than willing to exchange money for more time with their family and friends and to pursue their favorite hobbies. Give the 5-hour workweek a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised nothing will change except for increased employee morale and improved profits.