The 5-Hour Secret to Happier, Productive Workers

This series profiles people whose ideas have the power to transform the workplace. Several are company leaders who have put their ideas into practice. Others are thought leaders influencing the way we work. Each new part will post on Tuesdays. Links to previous articles are at the end of this post. This series originally appeared on the OpenWork blog.


It’s not unheard of for startup employees to work 50, 60, even 70 hours a week, but that doesn’t mean they have to.

Stephen Aarstol is the founder of the fast-growing Tower Paddle Boards. When his company began transitioning out of startup mode, he noticed an essential aspect of their corporate culture getting lost: fun. Although Tower’s offices were just a block from the beach, his employees never had the time to go outside — so he started sending them home early. He introduced the five-hour workday as a summertime experiment, and Tower never looked back.

“The best result of the new program is the psychological mindset shift of the staff,” says Aarstol. “Everyone went from looking at work as this trudge that occupies most of your week, to just this thing we do in the morning that affords us this incredible quality of life.”

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By condensing a full day’s work into just five hours, Tower’s employees were forced to eliminate busywork, redundant meetings and time wasted on the Internet. They started getting their work done fast and getting the heck out of there.

“We became more productive, not less,” he says. “We also eliminated a lot of wasted time. We were simply getting our work done at a faster pace, and then getting out there and living our life.”

Other parts in the series:

OpenWork  is a new nonprofit inspiring  companies to continuously improve how, when, and where work is done for the mutual benefit of employees and employers.This article originally appeared on the OpenWork blog.