Tower Paddle Boards decided to move to a 5-hour workday: 8am – 1pm. What, are you kidding! Most businesses say, “That’s nice, but it won’t work for me.” The 9-to-5 workday (or worse) is so ingrained that it’s hard to imagine anything else.
However, their productivity tripled, sales and profits increased 40%, per hour wages doubled, and everyone was happier. This Fast Company article, written by founder Stephan Aarstol, details how they did it.
The key is measuring what matters – output vs. hours – and challenging conventional wisdom. Henry Ford was the first to dramatically reduce the workweek and his productivity soared.
Aarstol, CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, told his employees he wanted to give them two things. First, he wanted to give them their lives back—so they’d have a pass to walk out each day right at 1 p.m. Second, he wanted to pay them better for the more focused effort that would take.
How To Make Working Less Work For Everyone
A five-hour workday might not work for every type of company. But for the vast majority of knowledge workers, clocking fewer hours that generate higher productivity is feasible. Here are a few tips that helped Tower Paddle Boards achieve a 5-hour workday:
- Apply the 80-20 rule. The well-known Pareto Principle dictates that 80% of production comes from 20% of efforts. Identify those 20% activities in your company’s typical workday; cut the rest.
- Shift to a production mind-set. Stop measuring work in hours and start measuring it in output. Reward employees for how productive they are, not how long they’re on the clock.
- Nix the “always available” attitude. It didn’t matter when they were open as long as their customers knew their hours. They learned that even in our instant-gratification society, being available all day isn’t necessary.
- Use technology to boost efficiency. Once you put a time constraint on work, it forces you to consider how you can get technology to do the heavy lifting.
- Don’t restrict yourself to a 25-hour week. It isn’t forbidden for the occasional high performer to still put in a 12-hour day. The key is that those crunch periods remain the exception to the rule.
The results have been amazing. They have been named to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies the past two years (they ranked #239 in 2015). This year, their 10-person team will generate $9 million in revenue – average revenue per employee of $900,000.
Stephan states, “The case against ballooning hours is familiar to most and doesn’t need to be rehearsed. Humans aren’t machines; productivity declines the longer you spend with your nose to the grind. On the flip side, it’s been found that happier workers are more productive. Having time to pursue your passions, nurture your relationships, and stay active gives you more emotional and physical energy overall—including to do your job well.”
What lessons can you take from Tower to apply to your business? Contact me to discuss how to apply these concepts to your company.
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