Work schedules haven’t been disrupted significantly since Henry Ford introduced the eight-hour work day. Ford noticed that his employees were actually more productive, and his company more profitable, when they got more rest, rather than working the average 10-16 hour workdays at the time. Now that we're in a post-industrial age, companies are once again beginning to experiment with work hours. Sweden, for instance, has implemented six-hour workdays. While not as wide-sweeping, web development agency Potato noticed that for their employees, doing work which requires creativity and/or complex thinking doesn’t always jive with the 9-to-5 norm, so they decided to move to more flexible work arrangements. Their employees can start and end their workdays on their own terms, and aren’t required to work a full 40 hours a week. This true flextime has had noticeable results:
- Increased employee productivity. Allowing employees to prioritize their days according to their energy levels, work on projects that inspire them, and have greater ownership over their work leads to happier, more productive workers.
- Optimization. People are affected by things like the amount of sleep they got the previous night, the weather, and their family life, to name a few. Asking employees to show up at the same time every day might be beneficial for the manager who needs to oversee them, but doesn’t reflect each employee’s unique needs. Potato’s anti-schedule works with these idiosyncrasies instead of against them.
- Greater efficiency. Potato owner Sam Espensen says, “I am absolutely convinced that we let work stretch out to fill the entire week at the moment but that actually we can juggle work around and condense it.”
Takeaway: While your team needs to be available to customers, encouraging greater scheduling flexibility and autonomy will create a happier, more productive workforce. Start by identifying which roles and tasks are vital to the core business and work in weekly sprints to get more accomplished in less time.