Sunday September 18, 2016

The 5-hour workday

Stephan Aarstol, author of "The Five-Hour Workday, andthe CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, tells us why a shorter work day could mean happier and more productive employees.

Stephan Aarstol, author of "The Five-Hour Workday, andthe CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, tells us why a shorter work day could mean happier and more productive employees. (Barbara Friedman/ flickr cc)

Listen 11:22

If you work in a corporate environment, where you're not punching a clock,  it can be pretty easy for your 8-hour workday to get, at times, somewhat unproductive.

Stephan Aarstol is an entrepreneur and the CEO of a company called Tower Paddle Boards. Just over a year ago, Stephan had an idea. He decided to move his company to a five hour workday, and wrote a book about his idea.

"If you go into most workplaces," says Stephan, "you come into work, you get coffee, maybe have breakfast at your desk, you go on Facebook, maybe do some online shopping...there's all of this waste built into it. When we rolled it out, we went from 8am to 1pm straight through. No lunch.

"The ask in return was that everybody would be as productive as they were before, if not more. And if they couldn't, they'd be fired.

"In every office, there's people that work 3 times the speed of everyone else. We want those people. And we want to repel the people that just sort of work slow."

Stephan's expectations are high: with a 5-hour workday ending at 1:00, there's plenty of time in the afternoon to check Facebook, socialize, or go to appointments. According to Stephan, that means, "when we come into work, we're like the Navy Seals."

Cutting away the water cooler chit-chat and the online distractions to just work hard for 5 hours straight, seems like a radical approach.  That's because we're at a point where the "always on" workforce is just an accepted new normal. Some employees are now extensions of "the brand", expected to be ambassadors of their companies, even on their own time. The line between work and leisure is increasingly blurry.

"American companies are trying to get people to stay longer," Stephan says. "Massages, free dinner...trying to make this prison cell more accommodating, when the reality is if you give your employees a better life, shrink that workday down, make them work while they're there, and give them their life back."


To get Stephan's productivity tools, go to the 5-hour Workday website. There you can enter your email address to have them sent to you.