My Thoughts on a 4-day Work Week
There has been a growing interest in a 4-day work week. If you’re unfamiliar, it is reducing the amount of hours worked weekly from 40 to 32 while keeping the same compensation. This goes against what has been “normal” since the industrial age. That does not have to continue being the norm.
I firmly believe that people should be compensated for their time fairly. Your salary is usually tied to a set amount of hours, let’s say 40 in this case. You should not have to work an additional 5 hours for that same pay on a regular basis unless you have serious equity that scales with the success of the company.
I have had the privilege in the past to be involved in a team that had a 32-hour week. It was an amazing experience that gave me perspective on my work and life. Here’s what I thought about it:
- A whole day to do whatever I wanted. This ranged from relaxing playing video games to learning something new to trying to spending time with friends or family.
- Made me value my time more and how I approach day-to-day work.
- I never really felt burnt out. That extra day actually ended up making me feel excited for work on Monday.
- My mental health improved significantly
- Just as productive and got just as much done compared to when I had a 40-hour week
- Got better at saying “No” to projects that didn’t make enough business sense for the company
- Still had the occassional project that required me to work longer to accomplish
- This took some time to get out of the habit
- I did end up reflecting on these to figure out how to avoid that in the future
- Took awhile to figure out what meetings were / were not necessary
- It was initially a scramble to figure out how to output as much value in less time
- In order to get more done, we needed more people. This is a trade-off that I think is worth having for the other benefits.
Why Adopt It?
Happiness & Employee Engagement
Employee happiness will improve. Each person has more time for themselves or their family. Happier employees can lead to longer retention and a better day-to-day experience for everyone. This also leads to better employee engagement for your organization.
If you’re working 8 less hours for the same compensation, that means that every hour is more valuable. Therefore, you must figure out how to make the best use of that time in order to deliver value. This means figuring out which meetings are necessary, what projects are actually going to provide value to the company, and what realistic estimations look like. A closer look at how you manage your time daily can become a mechanism that can help you further succeed throughout life.
Have you ever been in a situation where you got stuck on a problem to then step away to only figure out the issue after a few hours of not thinking about it? Imagine this same process although amplified when you have an additional day to reorient yourself for the next week.
If the extra day is used to learn or build on a skill, that can also be an asset to your team. New skills or learnings can bring a different perspectives to your team.
Hills to Overcome When Adopting it
Adopting a 4-day work week is not simple. If you just flip the switch without serious thought, it can be chaotic and ultimately end up being a failure. People are very used to the 40-hour week and in order to make the shift, it requires some deliberate guidance and support.
It’s important to make sure that even with this change that you’re able to achieve your business objectives. Although, it’s just as important to survey your employees to figure out if their general happiness and outlook towards the company has improved.
If you don’t hit your goals, be sure to analyze why that happened and don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that it is due to adopting this model. Be objective about it. If it is the case that this model did not work for your business, I’d love to hear about it and why.
There is going to be less time for meetings. This means that you need to re-evaluate your meetings. Going through a complete meeting purge and re-creating meetings that are absolutely necessary can be helpful here. When creating those meetings again, be deliberate with the purpose and agenda of the meeting so that you can establish what you’re ultimately trying to get out of it.
One aspect that is tricky to figure out is scheduling for support oriented roles. If you’re providing support for a typical 40-hour week, that means modifying schedules to allow those people helping with customer support to be able to work 32-hours a week and yet keeping the expected support levels for your customers. Alternatively, you change your policy to provide support during those hours only if that can work for your business.
I think a 4-day work week can work for just about any company. I wanted to get my thoughts around it on here. Leave a comment or send me an email if you’re interested in having a discussion about this.
Four Day Work Week
California Bill Proposal for 4-day Work Week
Bolt Switched to 4-day Work Week
Atlassian’s Experiment with 4-day Work Week
Business Insider on History of the 40 hour work week