I have been working 4 days a week for a number of years and in this blog post I want to share my experience and some pros and cons.
My Quest to 4 Days
It all started a few years ago when at my previous job (a startup) I started to feel exhausted and wasn’t performing at my best.
I was coming from the corporate world where I felt like I had a better work-life-balance, with occasional downs in terms of workload. This allowed me to recharge more often.
After a conversation with my team lead and CTO, we decided to give the 4-day workweek a try and it worked out amazingly.
My productivity and consequently impact went back up to the point that when my team lead left the company I was offered to take his place and manage my team.
The Benefits Are Real
The benefits of taking longer breaks are immense: a rested person works better and can be more productive.
Not to mention that sometimes people need multiple day long breaks to figure out a great solution that can be worth months of work.
By always being busy and in work-mode it gets harder to zoom out and find the space to shift perspective and be innovative.
It Is Not About Time
Effective work should be about what you get done and how.
Companies don’t evaluate performance based on working hours – a person who works overtime but performs poorly will be put under performance review and in the worst case let go anyway.
Instead, employees should feel and have ownership of the company they work for, be paid as full time employees and be evaluated on outcome.
Outcome though is not the only important factor for an employer.
Usually an employer doesn’t want you to be productive all the time but rather be available. This is important for some roles that are either customer and user focused like support and sales or operational like devops.
In my opinion this is the most complex issue to solve in order to operate successfully only 4 days a week.
It Is Tricky
As with remote work, if a company is not set up to operate 4 days a week, this model could be a colossal failure.
One problem of reducing the working hours of an individual without revisiting company priorities and speed accordingly, is that the individual will rarely do “busywork” - good - but their work week is inevitably more intense.
In the long term this can be as exhausting as working 5 days a week and they’ll spend the extra day off recovering.
To succeed at this game employer and employees need to be good at prioritizing, communicating, organizing and getting things done.
Even a team with the best organizational and soft skills then will have to face the availability issue above.
Working 4 days a week feels great!
Time-based remuneration is inconvenient for everybody and with advancements in processes, technology and automation I think that a shorter workweek can be the future!
As for now, the majority is probably not culturally and strategically ready for this shift. Understandebly, it is not easy to reorganize a company in order to work one day less a week.
However, if you are thinking of starting a new company you may want to consider setting it up for the 4-day workweek, organizing your work and priorities around this schedule.
As for me, over the years I had to give up on many great opportunities and dream jobs because nobody was willing to hire me 32 hours a week.
Since many companies are totally fine with having me part-time as a contractor, for now I have decided to stay independent and remain in control over my schedule.
Nonetheless, I am sure that in the long term I will miss being part of a big company and team and I don’t exclude the option to come back to full time employment one day.