James J Griffin

Investor. Writer. Philosopher. Social Entrepreneur.

Remote-Work, That’s How you Kill the 9-5

Yes, yes, this. All of this. On the front page of Digg this morning (yes, I know, who reads Digg, but stay with me) was a link to Rebecca Greenfield’s latest piece on Bloomberg titled “It’s Time to Kill the 9-5.” I know I’ve been saying this forever (remote-work anyone?) and if you’re ever around me you can probably attest to the fact that I’m damn near preaching. I don’t care, the 9-5, the office, the cubicle, the set location and, probably worst, the in person meeting; it’s time to kill them all.

Indeed, research suggests working fewer hours in a given day or week can improve productivity and health and boost employee-retention rates. This year, a study in Sweden found that nurses who traded eight-hour shifts for six-hour ones took fewer sick days and thus provided better care. Another study found that people who worked 55 hours a week performed worse on cognitive tests than those who worked 40 hours.

We’re Still Beating Around the Bush

No kidding. I’m shocked that society is still spending money on studies to find out what we already know. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. It seems like every few months we get another story citing Keynes’ essay prognosticating on the future of work and the 15 hour work week. Economy photo

Yet, progress seems to be painfully slow. In the information economy we ought to be collectively leveraging the two best weapons in our arsenal to achieve the highest productivity we can. You want to make more money, this is how you do it.

First, or minds, obviously, second, the vastly expanding communications possibilities brought about by the Internet. Yet in major companies, and small ones to some extent, the idea that workers don’t need to be in the office at set times still seems anathema. If you do get to work offsite or from home, it’s usually seen as a major privilege to be rarely taken advantage of.

More than a Privilege, a Necessity

Jason Fried’s TED talk remains the closest thing to a sermon on the subject I’ve seen.

If companies want to get the best out of the labor force, it’s time to start adapting to the labor force instead of forcing the labor force to change to your company culture. Hire the best people you can get. Doesn’t matter where they are. If they’re the right people they’ll take responsibility for their work and they’ll buy into the culture.

The Internet long ago made it possible to make this happen. The tools exist. The software is robust, useful, intuitive, and cheap. The tools allow your workplace cultural partners to accomplish the tasks that need doing on their time, when they’re most productive. This frees them up for other work, other pursuits, other creative outlets that can benefit not only a specific company, but radically change the economy at large. Look how many novel ideas Google employees came up with in the “spare time” that can be freed up with this paradigm shift.

It just makes financial sense.

About James

James is an investor, itinerant philosopher, startup entrepreneur and writer living in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @jamesjgriffin or on Google Plus +JamesJGriffin. He is also the founder of DesignYourJoy.co, a community focused on self-development and self-actualization. James lives with his wife Kate and giant beagle, Libby.

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