As employers reimagine the workplace post-Covid, a four-day work week may become a new perk.
Last month, technology company Bolt became one of the latest companies to jump on board. Earlier this year, New York-based crowdfunding platform Kickstarter announced it would pilot a four-day workweek.
There’s a campaign now underway from 4 Day Week Global to get more companies to sign on. The platform is launching a six-month coordinated trial starting in April 2022.
“We are changing the model of work away from measuring how long you are at the office, and moving that towards what are people actually producing and what outcomes are we trying to achieve over the course of the week,” said Joe O’Connor, global pilot program manager at 4 Day Week Global.
To be sure, there have been some bumps along the way as employers work out how to maintain productivity while employees work fewer hours. The companies below ran pilots last year after the pandemic hit, and, after seeing positive results, made the four-day workweek part of their culture.
“There are so many parts of the workweek that are just a waste of time,” he said.
“It has been a great forcing function for us to think differently, like taking a smaller suitcase on vacation,” he added. “We have to make trade-offs.”
The Denver-based company maintained the same level and quality of work, despite the fact that employees were working fewer hours. At the same time, employees were happier, Benitez said.
“There was a reduction in work stress,” he said. “There was a reduction in burnout.”
In fact, Benitez now views the four-day workweek as a recruiting tool.
“We are a small business,” he noted. “We aren’t going to be in the top 1% of compensation, but we will be in the top 1% of workweeks.”
To be sure, there are cultural headwinds to a four-day work week, he said. Many take pride in working long hours and there is a pressure to be constantly available. Yet the four-day workweek draws clear boundaries between work and non-work time.
“Disconnecting hours worked with work output is really critical,” Benitez said. “Then you begin to say, ‘What is essential work?’
“In some ways it is a good management tactic,” he added. “Think about what really drives the ball forward.”
For Mike Melillo, co-founder and CEO of outdoor technology company The Wanderlust Group, the decision to switch to a four-day workweek was an impulsive one.
After having several stressful weeks during the initial Covid shutdown last year, he had enough.
“It was a Sunday afternoon, I was sitting there and I distinctly remember emailing my founders saying, ‘I’m done. I’m canceling Mondays tomorrow,’” he recalled.
Wanderlust, based in Newport, Rhode Island, didn’t cut pay, downsize any goals or increase the hours during the working days. What it did was reconfigure the time spent at work. Melillo chose Mondays because the day was always jammed with meetings.
“The real drag on our productivity before was the endless meetings people were in, and their attitude and energy,” he said.