If You Leave at 5:00 pm, You’re Working Too Much

This article got a lot of comments and feedback on LinkedIn, so I’m posting it here as well to further the dialogue.

“sorry is the fool who trades his soul for a corvette, thinks he’ll get the girl, he’ll only get the mechanic”- Eddie Vedder

I’ll just come right out and say it. You work too much. How many hours are you putting in a week? 85? 70? 55? 40? Yes, even 40 hours is too much.

How do I know this?

Because we’re human. We have limits. And the limits we have include willpower and our ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

You’re at work 85 hours a week, but you aren’t working.

You might even be busy, but you aren’t working.

Time for a change

We humans do peculiar things. We continue to do things the “old” way, even when we know that the old way isn’t working.

Have you ever stopped to consider rush hour traffic? It’s not so much the fact that it’s because so many people are working. It’s because so many people work the exact same hours.

Have you ever thought why?

Most businesses do things the way other businesses do things because “that’s the way it is.”

That’s not innovative thinking. In fact, that’s down right lazy!

“We’re not going to put any thought into this, but we’re going to make everyone work the same hours and the same schedule because that’s the way that ACME, Inc., is doing it, and by Joe Pesci if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.”

When you read it like that, doesn’t it sound ridiculous? Of course it does! But you don’t notice at your job, do you?

It’s time to question why

When it comes to the hours we work, the time we put in, the job we’re doing, it’s time to question the status quo.

Why must I be here if my work is done?

Why must we always come in at the same time as everyone else, go to break at the same time as everyone else, go to lunch at the same time as everyone else, and leave at the same time as everyone else?

Why must we all work the same amount of hours?

I keep reading that we’re living in a New Economy. That may be true, but we’re still working like we’re in an old economy.

We’ve moved out of the factories, for the most part. Let’s leave behind the old ways of thinking about why we work the hours that we do.

The Flexible Work Week

Here’s my solution. Work 5 hour days, down the board.

Work for 2 hours, take 1 hour for lunch, and then work for 2 more hours. Then go home. And no working while you’re home!

Whatever you didn’t get done today you can finish tomorrow.

Oh, you have a deadline? Well stop doing that to yourself.

Deadlines are mostly self-imposed anyways. Look at what movie studios do with new releases. They pick the release date for the movie before they even shoot the movie, usually a year or two in advance. Then, if they fall behind schedule, critics question the movie and say “oh there’s problems on that movie, it must not be any good” and then ticket sales plummet.

I’m sure they have a good reason for picking the date that far in advance. I’m also sure it’s not set in stone.

Most things aren’t ya know. Even this.

Try it out and see what happens in your business. I’ll bet you’ll your employees will still get their work done and then they’ll have more time to have a life.

It’s Time to Put Life into Work/Life Balance

You know that old pesky work/life thingy. Where businesses say that want their employees to have a great work/life balance but then they schedule them for 12 hours a day. Or bother them when they finally take vacation. Or make them be “on call.”

Apparently work/life balance means getting to enjoy supper with your family before it’s time to go to bed and wake up and do it all over again! What a joy!

I remember reading one article where a guy made sure to carve out the time between 7–9pm every weekday for his son. That was just their time.

Out of 24 hours, he makes sure his son gets 2 hours of quality time with him. Sign him up for Father of the Year!

That’s not enough. Cut back on the work, broseph!

Trust me, if you’re a business owner, your workforce will love you for it. So will your family.

On the Real

Let’s be real here. It might not work for everyone. That’s o.k. You might try it and hate it. You can always change your mind. I promise, that’s not a character flaw. You might not be able to make the “numbers” work. Those pesky numbers!

You’re probably just too scared to change. That’s OK. We’re all scared of something.

Leaders aren’t scared though. They make tough decisions. Or so they say.

The Details

If you’re going to try this though, there are a few important things to consider.

You must kick everyone out after 5 hours. No exceptions. Leaving early is OK. Life happens. Staying late though, is strictly forbidden.

Also, it’s important that you have a staggered schedule, for two reasons.

1.) Not everyone works their best at 4 a.m. Sleep is not your enemy.

2.) You need to have some overlap with employees for communication purposes. That’s being practical. I know, it feels weird to me too.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “why not just do away with hours and let people come and go as they please.” That’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked.

Let’s look at a similar model. The unlimited vacation benefit. Sounds great in theory. “Take all the time off you need, as long as your work is done.”

What happened when this was implemented?


It turned out that since no one had any idea how long they were “allowed” to take off (because, let’s face it, there’s not such thing as “unlimited” time off), they just decided NOT to take off.

Plus, they were worried that their co-workers would think they were slackers for using the policy.

So that’s why it’s important to designate a maximum time limit on how long you can work. No, that’s not a typo. I said maximum time. The most you can work in a day is 5 hours.

The Hidden Benefit

Do you know what else working 5 hours a day will do. FORCE YOU TO WORK!

You don’t have time to play on your phone. You don’t have time to talk at the water cooler. You don’t have time to take a 45 minute restroom break. You don’t have time to update your Facebook status.

It’s like when you were in school. If the teacher gave you an assignment on Monday and said it was due on Friday, you put it off until later in the week. You might have started on it early, but you probably didn’t finish it up until the night before.

What if the teacher said it was due on Tuesday? Well, then you got down to business. You didn’t have time to mess with other things or put the assignment off. You got to work. And you got it done. (And Red Bull got richer).

But here’s the best part.

The quality of your work didn’t suffer. You probably received just as good a grade on the Tuesday assignment as you did the Friday assignment.

It’s genius!

This philosophy will make for quality work being done in less time with a workforce that is refreshed, efficient, and motivated.

Almost 100% of the people reading this won’t put it into practice.

That’s o.k.

I will. Then I’ll get to say I told you so!

(I’m actually too nice to say that to your face, but I’ll be thinking it).

I’m building a business. A business that looks after the people who work there. A business that challenges the status quo. A business that simultaneously asks “why” and “why not.” If this sounds like a place you would like to work at or learn more about, please join my email list. I want to create a community of people who are looking for more than just a job and a paycheck. I’m looking for a community of people who want to have meaning in their work and who want to their companies to appreciate and value them and their contributions to the organization. I want to build a community of people who can be proud of where they work and what they do. I would love for you to join me at www.brandongrooms.com and sign up for my newsletter!

Follow me on Twitter @bgdrums3

Like me on Facebook at here