By Zoya Biglary, director of business development at LSTN Sound Co.
A successful company requires tremendous work, and tremendous work requires time. But how tremendous is the quality of work produced after staring at a screen for nine hours? The statistics are out there. Americans are working longer hours; up to 60 per week. They're working through their lunch hour and eating at their desk. They're intentionally ignoring the few vacation days they've earned.
When we launched our company in Los Angeles in 2013, our founding team found ourselves working around the clock to get things off the ground. We were a startup with a goal to change lives through the power of music. For every audio product purchased, we help provide hearing aids to someone in need through our charity partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation. It was no easy mission.
After the initial few months, we decided it was time to work smarter, not longer. In order to increase productivity, we cut our office hours in half. Our employees were wasting hours of their day driving back and forth in rush hour LA traffic. I live under two miles from my office and would sometimes spend 40 minutes in my car before I got home. What was the point? Here's how we increased our productivity and made our lives easier:
- We cut our office hours in half. Our original office hours were 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. We changed the core in-office hours to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The concept was simple: Our whole team would meet for five hours each day to work alongside each other, brainstorm and share progress. From that point, we'd all leave the office and enjoy minimal traffic to our next stop. It didn't matter where you were doing; it was your time. Then, later in the afternoon or evening, we would all check in on work again for a few hours. It was a test run for a couple weeks. But guess what? It worked. Our company grew in terms of profit and impact.
- We hyper-focused on the bigger picture. The few hours we spend alongside each other every day have become more meaningful and we pay closer attention to each other's projects. No one has any time to waste in the office. It's not hard to work as a team for four or five hours. When it's double that, it's a different story. Focusing on the bigger picture and measuring success based on results has helped our company move forward faster.
- We shoot for lower levels of stress. My typical workday used to be very similar to that of the average American. I would wake up and rush out the door, sit in traffic for half an hour, then sit behind my laptop for nine hours, and finally get back in my car and go home exhausted. Now, I focus on my goals in the morning, work for a solid five hours with my team, take calls while I'm on the go, work out at the gym/get groceries/cook healthy meals and then settle down with my laptop and work for a few hours into the evening. Even if I work late into the night, I'm still refreshed when I show up at 10 a.m. the next day because I had a chance to address my personal needs.
- We look for creativity wherever we are. The most successful companies are the most creative companies. Nothing stifles creativity more than sitting behind a desk, Monday through Friday. In the hours that we spend outside the office, we are alert. We travel for both work and pleasure, attend dinners and events with other founders in the LA social enterprise space, and get involved in our communities.
Some professionals will find it harder than others to peel away from their desks. But based on the results I've seen with my team, I'd strongly advise trying it out. Get more done in life by getting out of your office.
Zoya Biglary is the director of business development and part of the founding team at LSTN Sound Co.