The farther and farther we move into the future of business, the more progression comes our way. Though we have learned to embrace the change and utilize it in some fields, there are some things corporations have steadfastly kept, such as the 9-5 workday. The 9-5 workday may have yielded high productivity when workers assembled the Model T for Ford, but the idea does not translate well in other industries. Instead, shorter work hours and altogether abandoning the typical 9-5 jobs have become more popular with younger people who are shifting towards jobs that offer flexible work hours and more time to live, such as freelancing and remote work. And though some dismiss the ideas as counterintuitive or another ‘silly product’ of idealistic Gen Z’ers, the benefits are real.
A perfect example of the benefits of a shortened workweek is the shift in schedule at Blue Street Capital. This business utilizes technology to improve customer service. After installing the five hour workday CEO David Rhoads decided to measure the impact through the business’ key performance indicator: phone calls per salesperson. He found that they’d doubled. Moreover, Rhoads began seeing an increase in revenue and a growing number of workers. Shortening the workweek and abandoning the obsolete 9-5 launched Blue Street Capital into a modern future, as it has done for numerous companies –even companies that have faced challenges, like Tower Paddle Boards.
After implementing the new shortened workweek, Stephan Aarstol, the Tower Paddle Boards CEO, lost three of his employees. While hiring, he found that not all new employees matched the mindset, as some were “sloth-like.” Despite these obstacles, Aarstol ended up with significant gains and people who were passionate about their work. As for the employees who stayed? They had more time for themselves to discover who they were and what they wanted to do. While those discoveries sometimes led them down a path away from Tower Paddle Boards, they were happy, and so was Aarstol.
Though these successful companies present a strong case for discarding the obsolete 9-5, some statistics further strengthen the case. In a study done by Forbes, researchers found that workers are most productive at 11 a.m., with productivity increasing between 7-11 p.m. and ultimately plummeting after 4 p.m. Moreover, regular breaks also yield high productivity. Take the Pomodoro Technique, for example. This technique, which has been rising in popularity, is a method where you work for 15-25 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between and 15-minute breaks after four cycles. Though the timing varies from person to person, the key here is breaks. Taking a break from intense focus is not a sign of a slacker, but is a tool necessary to increase productivity. Just as shortening the workweek is not something that will reduce output, it will increase productivity and happiness.
Looking at the essence of a shortened workweek, it is easy to see why it yields such good results. It very much represents a shift towards working to live rather than living to work. This transition increases productivity, as it allows individuals to experience more of what makes humanity so bright: exploring, spending time with family, hobbies, etc. Indeed, there will be those whose livelihoods are entangled with their personal life. But for those who work to live, abandoning the 9-5 workweek will benefit both them and their employers.
Many things in our world have become antiquated, and the 9-5 workday is one of them. As more and more companies face the choice of moving towards a more productive future or sticking to their outdated ways, I hope they choose to move forward for the benefit of their employees and their business.