What Happened When This Company Switched to a Five Hour Workday

Revenues increased, productivity improved, but people also left

Jack Turner, MBA

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Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

Stephan Aarstol founded his own business in 2010. You might remember him as the guy who froze during his 2012 pitch on ABC’s Shark Tank but still walked off with $150,000 from Mark Cuban.

Today, he runs a successful online paddle-board business, based out of San Diego, California.

Being a beach lifestyle company Aarstol was keen to find a way for his employees to spend more time enjoying the outdoor lifestyle the company promoted.

So, in June 2015, he offered his employees a deal: If they could figure out how to do the same work in less time, they could keep the same salary and leave at 1 pm.

Why did he do it?

Aarstol didn’t just want to promote a healthier work-life balance for his team. He also saw the move to a 5-hour workday as an opportunity to harness technology to increase productivity. During a recent interview Aarstol said “In 1914, Henry Ford cut autoworkers’ weeks to 40 hours, taking advantage of new fangled assembly lines that made people more productive. The internet and related technologies have goosed productivity even more — and yet, wages have not gone up, and hours have stayed the same.”

“At the same time that people have the ability to be massively more productive, they also now have the ability to massively waste time,”. With all the available distractions, Aarstol believes that most people, on average, are likely getting two or three hours of productive work each day.

A growing number of case studies support his theory. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day. Yet the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes. The majority of people’s time is spent checking emails, going to meetings, and engaging in small talk.

So, what happened when Tower Paddleboards switched to a five-hour workday?

The team became more efficient

Just as Aarstol theorized, shortening the workday significantly boosted the team’s efficiency. Placing a time constraint on the…

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Jack Turner, MBA

Career writer; helping knowledge workers build skills, pay bills, and prepare for the future of work. Inquiries: jackjosephjohnsonturner@gmail.com