Inside Reno Professional Teams’ ‘5-Hour Workday’ Experiment

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Working in the sports business, media, and entertainment industries is certainly not all glitz and glamour. Hard work and long days are not reserved for just the athletes on the field, as anybody with experience can attest to. Yet by thinking differently, Eric Edelstein and the professional teams he oversees in Reno, Nevada believe there is no reason for drastic work-life imbalance and undue misery.

Edelstein, team president of both the Reno Aces and Reno 1868 FC, has recently instituted a new system within his organizations that is labeled the “5-hour Workday.” Innovative thinking and a different approach to work are what he believes will eliminate unnecessary stress and empower more effective production.

“The impetus for this experiment was actually an article I came across titled ‘The 5-hour Workday,’ which is how what we’re doing here got its name,” Edelstein explained. “Although, it’s really not about time at all, and more about developing an attitude of working more efficiently.”

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What intrigued him about the idea was that “I looked at a surf shop that decided if they could cut waste in a day and get their jobs done faster while keeping production where it had to be, maybe they could get out sooner and enjoy their lives a little bit more.”

The Aces first rolled the policy out in the sales department, as that was the easiest sector to measure. “That’s where we have the most tangible benchmarks to track — a certain number of calls we want the team to make,” Edelstein explained. Per the “5-hour” initiative, after five hours, if the team member has made all their calls, they can leave.

This had some surprising results. Edelstein had mentioned that prior to trying this new system, there were a lot of days when the team wasn’t even close to meeting its quota. Now, calls were being made and with time to spare. He discovered that this “5-hour” rule led to an increase in overall productivity simply by improving focus and reducing any wasted inefficient time.

“The idea was to see what would happen if we empowered our staff members to have a tangible benefit of getting stuff done faster,” Edelstein expounded.

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Now, that doesn’t mean that working for the Aces or Reno 1868 FC is a free-for-all. There is still a basic “8/9-to-5” structure, and there will be certain agreed-upon meeting times. We all know how frustrating it is trying to track down a colleague only to realize they’ve left for the day, and the key to make this entire initiative function is that all the work still has to be getting done.  

This “5-hour Workday” practice certainly doesn’t eliminate the workload or magically make the job easier.

“There will still be hard work, lots of work, and something like fatigue on game-day is unavoidable, really,” Edelstein mentioned.

What it does do, though, is encourage Reno’s front office staff to focus on hyper-efficiency to strike a better work-life balance. While still in its infancy, that makes the new implementation sound like a victory, as that was one of Edelstein’s main reasons for instituting the idea in the first place: giving his staff the freedom and resources to make the most of their jobs — and their lives.