Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve.
In the early 1900s, it was common for factory workers to work 10-16 hour days six days a week. The industrial revolution brought about massive gains in productivity, but it also raised the pace of work to unsustainable levels. Hundreds of thousands of people we dying and getting maimed on America’s factory floors every year. It became very obvious that those long hours of physical labor were not sustainable, and in 1914 Henry Ford ushered in a new 8-hour workday, and that started a movement that would ultimately increase the quality of life of an entire nation.
Today, we’re in the middle of the Information Age with an equally dramatic shift in productivity for knowledge workers. Yet we’re still using a workday model that was designed for factory workers over 100 years ago.
The workday needs to evolve. The work world has fundamentally shifted. Moving to a five-hour workday may be just what the doctor ordered. If I told you that you could give all your employees a raise for free, and they could go home early, everyday, I doubt you’d believe me. I don’t blame you. But here’s the thing: I just did it.
At my company, Tower Paddle Boards, I made one small change in 2015 that transformed my business and my life. We shortened the workday to five hours. That’s it. As a result of that change, my employees and I began to enjoy our lives in a way we never imagined possible, and we also became incredibly productive in the office. It wasn’t an easy or fast decision. It took a lifetime of paradigm-shifting experiences, along with a solid understanding of our economic past and future, before I gained the courage to bet my entire company on this experiment. Luckily, the experiment has worked.
Today, my entire team is happy, our customers are happy, and business is absolutely booming. That one small change has had an enormous, positive, and lasting impact on all of us.
We have a real divorce problem in America, and I think our overworking contributes greatly to it. Parents are working too long, not spending enough time with each other and with their kids.
What happens if American parents were done with work at 1:00 p.m.? They can catch every game, every recital, every community event. They can have time for date night with their spouse. Or maybe just have time to have a nice, normal, unrushed conversation over the dinner table. Time to watch a funny movie together, laugh together. Time to love each other.
Other Family Benefits
In addition to the happiness-generating effects of spending more time with your partner, spouse, or children, the five-hour workday solves another problem: childcare. What a nightmare. Our current workday requires working parents to find (and pay for, In most cases) three to six hours of childcare every day.
Now, what changes if one parent or both parents are off work by 1:00 p.m.?
With an abundance of free time every afternoon, most people are going to fill their time with some form of recreation and exercise. It might be tennis, or riding a bike, or any number of things. Exercise is ahuge gain to energy levels and productivity, not to mention the savings for businesses on their health insurance premiums if everyone in the office becomes healthier.
Personal Happiness Leads To Workplace Happiness
When a person becomes happier outside of work, they bring that into the office with them. I can’t really quantify how this helps a business, but Vishen Lakhiani from Mindvalley said it best: “Happiness is the new productivity tool.” I’ve found that to be true in myself, as well as everyone around me.
Killing The Silent Killers: Stress and Burnout
In the current situation where half the country of knowledge workers is working more than 50 hours a week, we’ve got a real problem with stress and burnout. We’re bending people too far, for too long, and they’re breaking. It’s draining society at large, with a host of social ills and health problems. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Illegal drug abuse has been for some time. Obesity is becoming commonplace. Heart disease and other stress related health problems are on the rise.
Tower Paddle Boards has been ranked on the INC 500 among the fastest growing companies in the nation. Two years ago, we were named the #1 fastest growing company in San Diego. We’re also one of Mark Cuban’s best investments off the ABC TV show Shark Tank, and one of the most successful companies in the history of the show. If you’re company is still clocking 50 or 60+ hour weeks and seeing only meager results, maybe you’re doing it wrong.