Can a 4-Day Workweek Jump Productivity 40%?

Can a 4-Day Workweek Jump Productivity 40%?

Microsoft recently experimented with a 4-day workweek in Japan. This CNN report details the results: “While the amount of time spent at work was cut dramatically, productivity — measured by sales per employee — went up by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year.” In addition they encouraged shorter meetings (30 minutes) and less time answering emails. Shake Shack is testing something similar as are a lot of smaller companies.

Shorter workweeks can possibly be a recruiting and/or retention perk in many areas of this country where there is a shortage of labor talent (i.e. very low unemployment) such as here in Denver.

This development brings to mind a blog I wrote back in 2017: Output vs. Hours! Can Your Company Adopt a 5-Hour Workday?

Take a look below and give these concepts some thought. Contact me to discuss how a shorter workweek or workday can benefit your company.

All the best

Output vs. Hours! Can Your Company Adopt a 5-Hour Workday?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

© 2017-2020 David Paul Carter. All rights reserved.

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