Why A Six Hour Work Day Makes Us Happier & Productive


Six Hour Work Day at ADfits Startup

A typical 9 to 5 work day...

You come into the office, login to your computer, check your email, manage your calendar/meeting invites, launch a variety of tools/software programs, and start working on your first priority/task/deliverable of the day.

Thereafter, you probably don't work for 8 hours straight because a typical workday also includes a variety of breaks, such as: 

coffee breaks, water breaks, bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, afternoon snack breaks, social media breaks, mobile phone breaks, reading the news breaks, stretching breaks, chatting with a colleague breaks, and if you're working at a typical technology start-up, you'll probably have a ping-pong break or games room break too!

In fact, studies have shown that most productive employees didn't work full eight-hour days; they took 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work. Turns out, working smarter with frequent breaks is the secret to higher levels of productivity.

But most breaks are never timed with such precision. Those who do follow this rule and work 52 solid minutes for 8 separate hours, end up spending 136 minutes (or 2.26 hours) of the day taking breaks, just to sustain a 9 to 5 work schedule!

For this reason, organizations and start-ups go to great lengths to promote these breaks as part of their culture or work perks i.e. "we work hard, but play harder!" or (my personal favorite) "we encourage work-life balance!". This is all designed to attract and retain top talent; it lets prospective and current employees know that it's not all about work, but also about play and having fun in the process.

For example, a company like Google offers on-site dry cleaning service, nap rooms, childcare, or other perks to promote a "work-life balance". The idea being that if the organization takes care of your personal errands, you'll spend more time at work being productive and less stressed. Of course, not all companies have deep pockets like Google, so other organizations put their own cultural spin on the perk in order to compete for top talent.

Unfortunately, what most organizations and start-ups fail to realize is that an Xbox or a Foosball table or "work-life balance" is not a perk that employees need to be productive and happy. 

What people really need is... the luxury of free time

Free time is priceless. But the only way to get free time is to not be bound by a 9 to 5 work schedule (full of breaks and vanity 'work-life' perks). The only way to free up time is to work less!

This is why I want to promote a radically different work culture at my new start-up ADfits. A culture that beats to the drum of working smarter, not harder. A culture that understands the immense value of free time. A culture based on the foundation of a six-hour work day.

And this is not a new idea. Organizations in Sweden have experimented with a six hour work day with varying degrees of success. It may not be suitable for all organizations, but I strongly believe it meshes well with everything that ADfits stands for. Afterall, our slogan is "Rethink Advertising" so why not "Rethink Working" too?

Now, I'm not proposing a reduction in work or salary. All I'm proposing is a reduction in hours worked. I believe when you only have six hours in a given day, you'll naturally be more engaged, productive, and excited about getting sh*t done (a term popularized by Aaron Levie of Box). And the reward for your hard work? Enjoying the rest of the day off.

Imagine working 6 hours per day. You'll finally have time to do whatever else you want.

Things to do after a six hour work day

  • Spend time with family
  • Spend time with friends
  • Be there for your loved ones
  • Work out at the gym
  • Pursue a hobby or passion
  • Read a book
  • Cook at home
  • Organize a closet or garage
  • Go to the bank
  • Run an errand
  • Help someone
  • Volunteer for a good cause
  • Learn a new skill
  • Take a course
  • Work on a side business
  • Be outdoors in the sun
  • Think and reflect
  • Beat the rush hour traffic going home
  • And the list goes on and on...

Rolling out a six hour work day across many organizations would also create ripple effects across communities and society at large. When people have more time to engage with family, friends, and neighbors, they'll help build stronger, happier communities. All of this will result in you living a richer, more fulfilled life. And the more well-rounded you are, the happier and productive you'll be at work. Of course, with some much free time, you can also check in to work remotely or via email if you need to, but that's completely your prerogative. 

How to implement a six-hour work-day at a startup?

Bigger organizations may have a difficult time adapting to a 6-hour work-day. But startups will find it easier because the first few founders and employees play a large role in determining the right organizational culture.

Here is how I would implement a six hour work day at ADfits:

1. Focus on outputs and make achieving results the mantra

Focus on daily outputs as a measuring stick of success. Start your day with a clear list of objectives and prioritize your tasks accordingly. Cross off items as they get done. At the end of the day, ask yourself and your team one simple question: what did I accomplish today?

Add up your daily accomplishments over a week or month to see how far you've come along. This approach will make your work more meaningful as you'll see the impact you're making on a daily/weekly/monthly basis in terms of real output. You'll also be working for the achievement of free time, which at the end of the day, is your most valuable asset. At ADfits, everything we do involves gamification (not just our fun ad campaigns, but also the onboarding experience for publishers and users is gamified!), so this approach would blend really well with our culture. 

2. Allow for exceptions to the rule

If there's a deadline or urgent task that requires more time, it'll be important to allow for exceptions to the six-hour rule. However, trust and empower your team to make this call on their own and be flexible about it (no need to enforce it to the letter). On occasions where you need to work more than six hours, those hours could also be worked remotely (perhaps later that evening from home).

3. Measure success against key performance indicators

Make sure KPIs vital to the good health of your business are not negatively effected by the six hour work day. Start off with a trial and a measurement framework for success. A six hour work day should yield more productive, engaged, and happier employees who have more free time. This should translate into a better product, higher revenues, and better service.

If a six hour work day results in declining revenues, poor customer service, or unhappy clients, you'll need to reassess your approach and strategy! In any case, make sure you're measuring output and results in the form of key performance indicators important to the success of your business. 

4. Stagger the hours for full-day coverage (eventually)

As you continue to grow and attract more talent, stagger the hours to eventually provide full-day coverage. This will also help you scale and accommodate different types of employees. 

Personally, I'm an early riser and prefer the hours of 7am to 1pm or 8am to 2pm. My mind is sharpest in the morning and comes with higher levels of motivation to get work done. But not everyone is wired the same way. There are many successful people who are late risers or night owls. To accommodate such folks, a staggered start-time may be needed. For example, some folks could work 9am to 3pm or 10am to 4pm as and when needed. 

5. Eliminate fluffy perks

No need to waste time, money, and space on vanity perks that simply encourage more time spent at work doing nothing. As a Manager, I would rather get 5 to 6 hours of your A-game versus 8-9 hours of your B-game. Quality always trumps quantity in my books. Yet organizations continue to believe that employee satisfaction and retention is contingent on such perks.

The only work-life balance needed is more time for life and less time for work! 

Implementing a six hour work day won't be an easy task and it's not for everyone. Society is wired to believe that a 9 to 5 work day is the norm. But with so much technological advancement in the last 15 years, people are equipped with more tools to be productive at work, which is also freeing up more of their time... as a result, we continue to work eight hour days, but now it's filled with a variety of breaks! In the future, I think more and more organizations will adopt a six hour work day because technological advancements (like Artificial Intelligence) will enable people to simply have more free time at work, which should translate into fewer hours required being at work. It's time for organizations to loosen the shackles of 9 to 5 and set people free!

At ADfits, we're a small start-up with big dreams. We relentlessly question the status quo and it's a part of our culture. The ad tech industry is going through major turmoil these days. Publishers are losing revenue to ad blocking, Advertisers are having difficulty proving the ROI on their digital spend, and Consumers get the worst end of the stick with slow page load times, intrusive experiences, and ads that creepily follow them around the Internet. Our vision and mission is to change the world of online advertising by empowering consumers first... and we're going to do it six hours at a time! :-)

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Ali Shah is the Founder & CEO of ADfits, a Value Exchange Marketplace where Publishers, Brands, and Empowered Consumers converge for their mutual benefit. The ADfits myREWARDS Platform will be BETA launching in Canada, USA, and the UK on Nov. 18 2016. Ali is passionate about changing the way modern digital ads work and cutting through the noise of marketing. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (#JoinADfits #myREWARDS).

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