Work-life balance is coming more and more into focus at modern companies and even governments are rethinking the idea of the 40-hour working week. Conservative critics may think that this weakens a nation’s or company’s position in an increasingly competitive environment but having actively sought out a 32-hour week I’ve realized that having more free time has made me more productive in the office.

It wasn’t easy to convince friends, family and hiring managers of the value of cutting my working week by 20%. My reasons for this rather unconventional move were that I indeed like my job a lot, but there are things I truly adore: adventures in the mountains and being a successful ultra-trail runner. In spite of people’s fears that I would miss out on career opportunities and financial remuneration, I still went my own way and found out that the decision that I made for personal reasons is also influencing my professional career in a positive way. Here’s why:

1. Part-timers are physically and psychologically healthier

You may already have heard about studies that found out that working less and having more time off has positive effects on your health, which in turn reduces the amount of sick days. Mentally, I am better able to manage stress after a long weekend in the mountains or a long run the afternoon before.

2. Part-timers are most likely more motivated, but not overly obsessed

I’m highly motivated for several reasons. As I have a shorter working week or day, I come in on a Monday morning relaxed and happy after a nice weekend, motivated to kick-ass in the upcoming 32 working hours. Before I get too tired, annoyed or stressed, I find myself already at the top of a mountain again, leaving myself no time to get too obsessed with any one thing.

Marcel Hoeche on a moutain
Making mountain hikes and ultra-trail running weekly activities pushes my personal and professional performance to new levels.
Man doing yoga, trail running and bouldering
The extra time I have for sports and friends ensures I have a smile on my face every Monday morning.
Muddy legs during mountainbiking.
The only wheels I want to be on are two ones in the fresh air and working part-time ensures that’s the case.
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3. Part-timers have time to improve themselves every damn day

When I worked 40 hours a week, I came home at the end of the day without any motivation left to rethink what I was actually doing in the office. I was so focused on the daily business and all the (bad) habits I had fallen into, that I found no chance to think about these weaknesses and improve on them.

Whole project teams and workshops are initiated to bring several experts together to analyze and restructure complex processes. What if the 22-year-old beginner would find such a business approach all by himself? On a Friday afternoon, watching the sunset somewhere in the Alps. This is unlikely to happen among the project team putting in long hours in the office.

The best is that I don’t even need to think about work. During a full-day mountain tour, you will necessarily think about yourself, what you have done, what you can do better, where you want to go and how you will get there. Isn’t this the definition of creating a fulfilling career?

Think about it. If you have time.

View from a climbing ladder
I’m proud to have created my own ladder to climb and create the work-life balance I need to be at my best.

Marcel's adventures and business tips

Check out his stories on running the world’s toughest obstacle race, taking learnings from business to sports and turning overtime into quality time.

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by nits 15.02.2017
great article! please keep sharing more about your adventure and success. The change to 4 day a week work seems daunting to me but seeing your experiences and the benefits makes me feel like giving it a try!
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by Gemina Stroud 16.02.2017
Very motivating Marcel! I crave more "life" in my life!
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by Nadine 16.02.2017
Thank you for the great article! Completely resonates with me - especially the part on the 40h work week: "I came home at the end of the day without any motivation left to rethink what I was actually doing in the office. I was so focused on the daily business ...that I found no chance to think about these weaknesses and improve on them."
This is often the case for me and I'd love to reduce working hours just a bit to leave more room for exactly that. I hope our culture can move towards this model in the future.
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