5-Hour Workdays? 4-Day Workweeks? Yes, Please | Cal Newport
Mr. Rheingans is betting that we have this wrong. His experiment is premised on the idea that once you remove time-wasting distractions and constrain inefficient conversation about your work, five hours should be sufficient to accomplish most of the core activities that actually move the needle.
You know what, Mr. Rheingans might be on to something here. In my experience, when I've been working productively throughout the day, it is usually at the 5 hour mark that my brain starts slowing down. It is about that time when I would go to the break room, drink some water and think to myself, “my brain is fried.” Problem is, I still had 3 hours to go.
To support this new approach, he has employees leave their phones in their bags at the office and blocks access to social media on the company network. Strict rules reduce time spent in meetings (most of which are now limited to 15 minutes or less). Perhaps most important, his employees now check work email only twice each day — no drawn out back-and-forth exchanges fragmenting their attention, no surreptitious inbox checks while at dinner or on the sidelines of their kids’ sporting events.
I would be so down for something like this. I can 100% assure you, from my own experience, that if you take away an employee's phone, even for just a set amount of time, they will be more productive throughout the day. Less time spent in meetings means more time spent producing something of value, which can only be good. Less time spent checking email, means less interruptions in your work. Of course, these set of rules will only work if you do implement a 5 hour workday.
I hope more companies try out experiments like this in the future. If proven successful, then more companies would be willing to try it out, which could mean a definite improvement in work to life balance for most office workers.