An Aussie entrepreneur has become the enemy of bosses around the globe by arguing in favour of a six-hour workday.
Steve Glaveski, the co-founder of Melbourne innovation consultancy Collective Campus, recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Review making his case after a two-week trial in his own office.
During that fortnight, he said employees coped with shorter work time by learning to “prioritise effectively, limit interruptions, and operate at a much more deliberate level for the first few hours of the day”.
As a result, the team maintained and sometimes increased the quality and quantity of work with the added bonus of achieving a better work/life balance and “improved mental state”.
“By cultivating a flow-friendly workplace and introducing a shorter workday, you’re setting the scene not only for higher productivity and better outcomes, but for more motivated and less-stressed employees, improved rates of employee acquisition and retention, and more time for all that fun stuff that goes on outside of office walls, otherwise known as life,” Mr Glaveski wrote.
He explained it was essential to set “realistic expectations”.
“Make it OK for employees to not be in a hyper-responsive state and schedule uninterrupted time to get into a state of flow. Similarly, make it not OK to be interrupting people on a whim,” he said.
“My team has a simple rule; if a team member has their headphones in, you are not to disturb them unless it absolutely, positively can’t wait (which is hardly ever, by the way).”
Mr Glaveski, who has also written the book Employee to Entrepreneur, said the way most modern offices operated hindered efficiency by “setting counter-productive expectations on availability, responsiveness, and meeting attendance”, with staff members increasingly becoming slaves to their ever-expanding inboxes.
But he argued technology caused people to stay back “well beyond” 5pm most days “just to keep up with their workloads”.
To cut down desk hours and get more done he recommends six key changes.
The first is to prioritise and focus on “high-value tasks” that suit the strengths of employees and their wider team’s goals.
Next, we should cut down or get rid of tasks that “don’t add value” such as slashing wasteful meetings in half and switching off distracting notifications.
For process-oriented jobs, Mr Glaveski said it was a good idea to automate where possible, and where it wasn’t, the option of outsourcing should be explored.
He said managers could avoid “analysis and paralysis” and “over-investing in the wrong things” by experimenting and adapting where possible — and finally, he said working on one thing at a time, doing the hardest tasks first and working in short intervals followed by quick breaks could all help to boost productivity.
He said a two-week trial in his own office had been a huge success.
Mr Glaveski said the typical workday was now driven by useless hour-long meetings, unplanned interruptions, unnecessary “consensus-seeking” for unimportant decisions, the pursuit of “inbox zero”, travelling for face-to-face meetings when calls or emails would work, jumping between many tasks and wasting time on tasks that are not priorities.
In a recent interview with Smart Company, he also advocated for founders and leaders to similarly slash their 10 to 14-hour work days by roughly half, as long hours often meant “the quality of their output is compromised”.
“If you’re going to play the long game, you need to do it in a way that’s sustainable,” he told the publication.