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6-hour workday – Learnings and conclusion

To improve productivity and give more personal time to our team members, we introduced the 6-hour workday in our organization. It’s been nearly 6 weeks since we started our 6-hour workday experiment. That’s about a month-and-a-half, which is good enough time to take stock and list out the learnings.

This post is in continuation with my last post on TRH.

For those who would like to dive deeper, here are the observations since the Day Zero.

  1. The Experiment
  2. Learnings from the first week
  3. Learnings from the second week
  4. Learnings from the third week

In this post, I’ll share the overall learnings with you. It’ll be helpful for all those who’ve been contemplating some change – any change – in their timings in order to improve productivity. Then I’ll talk about some ideas in detail.

Let’s get going.

Firstly, the 8 major takeaways.

  1. Early mornings are the times when your productivity is the highest. Leverage that.
  2. When you experiment with timings, remember what they are – experiments. So be flexible. Be ready to incorporate changes on the go.
  3. It’s important you involve your team members in the decision-making process. When they are a part of the decision-making process, their commitment level is higher.
  4. Reducing the number of working hours can also influence your internal communication process. That’s because your team will likely have less time for informal communication too. Improve your formal communications to counter this.
  5. No matter what, some tasks do take the same time. Identify those tasks in your company. Don’t expect everything to work out 25% faster just because you’ve cut down your working hours.
  6. The importance of planning your work will increase because now you’ll be trying to get the same amount of work done (probably more) in the same time. Focus on better planning.
  7. DND (Do Not Disturb) is a great tool to ensure minimum interference. Use it well and use it wisely.
  8. The only general recommendation for everyone out there is that there are no general recommendations. You know your business best, so tweak the above learnings to get the best out of your team.

Now let’s take up some ideas for details.

Learning 1 – Early mornings have an unbeatable advantage

Haven’t you noticed this too? Mornings are the most energetic parts of our day. So why not leverage this to work?

People concentrate better, do more and do a lot better in the mornings.

One of the nicest things that happened was the heightened productivity of my team members. They have been able to do more in the same or lesser time.

If you implement the morning schedule at your end, you will see great results too.

However, don’t forget to take care of interruptions. Interruptions can damage early-morning productivity.

We have DND (Do Not Disturb) policy for first 2 hours of the mornings. Meaning that people are pretty much on their own in these 2 hours – any request for help or consultation would have to wait.

I feel it is best when people work alone for the first 2 hours of the day. You may want to consider something on the lines of DND.

Even if you don’t want to implement the 6 hour work-day why not try the morning session at your company too? What’s holding you back?

Learning 2 – Staying flexible is a must

Into the 4th week of our experiment, I again asked my team how things were going.

Basically they were happy. They were working for fewer hours, yet the overall output remained the same – mostly. It sounded like a good deal.

However, they also wanted a small tweak.

They wanted more free time.

They proposed an additional day off. So along with Sunday, how about an off on Saturday too? A 5-day week.

My first reaction was: 

Are you guys nuts?

How much free time do you want?

The world is not enough for you people!

But later, I thought about it carefully and asked myself: what are my priorities? And what are the must-haves?

On the one hand, I definitely want my team to be happy and productive everyday. I was willing to make changes that helped us achieve this goal. On the other, I was sure of two things:

  1. We need to put at least 40 working hours in a week
  2. We need to keep our morning timings unchanged since they are most productive

So I asked the team for the inputs.

The team proposed and we all agreed to the following:

  • We are now taking one Saturday off in a month.
  • To compensate, we will now be working 6.5 hours daily. (Note: The 6 hour work-day is now 6.5 hours workday)

I was very keen not to go past the lunch sessions, so this tradeoff sounds good. Our flexible mindset helped us figure out the best way wherein we optimized everything.

Learning 3 – Some tasks demand the same amount of time as before

I have remarked in my previous post that we were getting more work done, but communication had suffered since people barely had time to interact, at least informally.

There was one more thing that somehow wasn’t getting done.

To test our games and plan work, we needed more time then we already had. Fitting it into our daily schedules sounded like an impossible choice – our 6 hours were so full.

So we reserved a time-slot for game testing and planning.

We now generally test our games and do weekly planning on Saturdays. It serves two purposes.

  1. We are working for full 6.5 hours on all the weekdays
  2. We do planning for next week on Saturdays which gives a clear idea to everyone about his work in the coming week.

Learning 4: Plan what you will do with the free time. Or may be not.

The 6.5 hour workday gives my team and me a good deal of free time in evenings. So what do I do with it?

Well, I am and am not happy with the way I’ve spent this free time.

On the one hand, I have not been dozing off or whiling my time away. For instance, I caught up on some episodes of Shark Tank. I have had more time to connect with like-minded people offline. Good stuff.

On the other, I still feel I could have planned for this free time better. For instance, I haven’t yet been able to pursue my favorite activity – playing sports – and I’m missing it.

I’m a not a planning freak. I do like to plan and keep things and events organized, but I also avoid planning too much. Every once in a while, I like to do things on the spur of the moment, instinctively. To me that’s the essence of freedom. What’s your take?

The Summing Up

Well, we aren’t quite there, but we sure are doing better than when we used to put in 8 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Apart from the learnings I listed at the start of this post, there’s one final point I’d stress:

Many times, the solution is right in front of our eyes, but we fail to see it. Often all that’s needed is a small tweak. So don’t be scared to experiment. Your results will surprise you.

Good luck.

Don’t forget to give thumbs up and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Cheers!

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3 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Deepak Doddamani

    Ergonomics and Work Study Scientists have done several experiments before finalizing the right ‘working hours’ for Offices. But as you mentioned it rightly; every industry if different and therefore it’s important to find out what suits your workplace the best. Hats Off to you for practically carrying out this experiment and coming out with such fantastic observations and conclusions. Thanks for sharing it here.

    • Profile photo of Tejas Jasani

      Thanks very much Deepak for your kind words!
      We are working fewer hours since almost 2+ months now, and results are quite good 🙂

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