8-4-5 working hours
At Rocketium, we work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 5 days a week. We started this schedule a few years ago when a colleague told us that she stays back at the office till 8 p.m. to avoid traffic snarls. The team realised that we could save hours of time spent in traffic by shifting our work timings by a couple of hours. We saw significant improvement in our productivity and well-being after we moved to this schedule.
We face challenges in maintaining this schedule as our team, product, and business has expanded. However, we improve our processes instead of abandoning 8-4-5 as its benefits outweigh its challenges.
Most of our team's work is creative. In creative work, more hours do not always mean better outcomes. In fact, we perform worse when we are exhausted. Creative work also benefits from a change of setting and context. We recharge our creativity, motivation, and willpower by spending time on things outside our core work.
Starting work early is a great keystone habit that improves many other habits. We wake up early, eat more regularly, and sleep early. This creates a more healthy lifestyle. By wrapping up work at 4 p.m., we get several hours every day to spend with friends, family, or our hobbies. This lowers stress and leads to more emotional well-being.
We work best when we collaborate with others. Our team, other teams, and customers help us become better. We maximise the number of hours we work together by starting the day at the same time. We avoid people being left out of conversations by ending the day at the same time.
Whenever we notice ourselves working longer or different hours, we probe into the reasons because they help us improve how we work. These reasons are usually a sign of a broken process that we can fix. Too many meetings? Too much work per person? Poor documentation? Limited training? Noisy office? All are things we should fix rather than doing away with our 8-4-5 schedule.
We start and end our day earlier than most people. This means we see far less traffic on roads, restaurants, and everywhere else we go. This means we save 1-2 hours every day that we can use for creative work, friends, family, hobbies, or anything else we want.
No. We drop a note to our team and others who depend on us so they know we will start late. They would rather have us at our 100% for a few hours than us at our 50% for the entire day.
We keep an eye on Slack but do not feel obligated to respond outside 8-4-5. We are always available for a call if someone wants to reach us for something critical.
We rarely set up meetings or calls outside 8-4-5. We may do this in rare cases when there are no better options. We discuss ways to avoid this with the team if this happens frequently.
We keep an eye on customer communication and respond if something is urgent and important. We put ourselves in our customers' shoes to figure out the best course of action. Am I OK to wait for a few hours if a product I rely on is not working as expected? Clearly not. Am I OK to keep facing issues even if the issue is resolved quickly? Also clearly not. Every customer communication is a chance for us to examine our processes and improve them.
We discuss the reasons and potential solutions for this with our manager. Longer hours are usually a symptom of other issues - too much work, not enough training, low self-service in the purchase or usage of our product, impossible response time standards, and so on. Each solution has its own tradeoffs. That is why it is important to bring this up when it happens and identify a solution. We lose too many benefits if we abandon the 8-4-5 schedule.
We discuss the reasons and potential solutions for this with our manager. Different hours are usually needed if our work is exclusively with prospects and customers in another time zone. The solution might be to make our buying process and product more self-service so prospects and customers can help themselves. Another solution could be to build a team in another geography so they can work in local timings to help prospects and customers. Yet another could be to shift 8-4-5 by a few hours. Each solution has its own tradeoffs so we and our team discuss the best approach.
This is one of the solutions to the previous question. Working hours that are different from the rest of the team gives us fewer hours to collaborate. Given the importance of collaboration and shared experience, we do our best to figure out how to interact and learn from other teams. Though 8-4-5 becomes 10-6-5, 12-8-5, ..., its reasons and benefits stay the same.