In this guide, you'll find an introduction to starting a 4 day work week with your company or team, knowing when to start one and how it can reduce burnout and improve company performance. You'll also get real case studies and practical examples, so you can see how using Playbooks such as a 4 day work week can super-power team performance.
A 4-day work week, or a shorter work week, is an arrangement where a workplace has its employees work over four days per week rather than the more customary five. This arrangement can be a part of flexible work hours and is sometimes used to cut costs or improve productivity and mental health, as seen in the example of the so-called "4/10 workweek," where employees work a standard 40 hours across four days, i.e. a "four-ten" week. However, a four-day week can also be a fixed work schedule.
The concept of a 4 day work week started with advocacy groups in the 1970s but most recently has gathered significant momentum with companies such as Basecamp, Buffer and Wildbit moving to a more permanent 32-hour workweek. Countries such as Spain, New Zealand, Iceland, and Japan have recently proposed nationwide 4 day work week programs.
LEON proposes that 4 day work weeks should be used as a tool within companies to improve performance, reduce burnout risk, and improve well-being when needed.
Well-being is a complex concept, where mental health is transient and abstract, with individual subjectivity driving most things.
Starting a 4 day work week Playbook should be driven by intelligent recommendations and used with the right team and at the right time.
4 day work weeks have mostly been seen in either a permanent 4x10 hour model or a 4x32 hour model. Other companies have used more randomized models, whereas long as the 40 or 32-hour number is met, employees can make up their own schedule. That said, what has been most popular, especially during the pandemic, has been a more seasonal model.
These seasonal models usually revolve around implementing "summer breaks," such as Spotify starting a 4 day work week Playbook for July and August.
“The bottom line is that a shorter workweek makes a company more competitive and makes workers happier”, said Bernyk, Kickstarter's communications lead. And during a time when there's intense competition for tech talent, companies will bend over backward to win their employees over.
"As we build a future that's more flexible, testing a four-day workweek is a continuation of that work," Bernyk told Protocol.
She added that the shortened workweek is one way to ensure employees are taking a proper break. A few years ago, Kickstarter gave its employees unlimited paid time off, but no one was actually taking a break. She said that cutting back weekly hours and implementing a set number of paid time off carves in a break for everyone at the company.
For Wildbit, which had cut back weekly hours long before the pandemic, Nagele said a four-day workweek is one step closer to completely redefining work hours. It may be a pipe dream right now, but she said she eventually wants employees to figure out when to say "enough" and log out for the day or weekend, regardless of how much time they had spent working in one day.
"Can we say, 'We need to finish this one project, and if we can get it done in two months, great? If it takes a month and a half, then fantastic,'" she said.
To improve team performance, understanding when to implement a 4 day work week is critical. 4 day work weeks can be used for both performance optimization and team recovery and well-being.
Let's dive into some real-life examples of how this might work for your team.
As we all know, sales teams are sometimes looked at as "corporate athletes ."And much like real athletes, understanding the balance between recovery and performance is key to sustainable growth. You can use 4 day work week to optimize both, but the devil is in the details.
Engineering teams are notorious for experiencing team burnout, and a 4-day work week Playbook might just be the trick to faster product development. But much like the sales team example above, there is no need to look at it as "time off ."What if you used a 4 day work week during engineering sprints to boost productivity and work-life balance? Maybe you increase tasks and submit goals Monday through Thursday and allow an extra day for the engineering team to recover and recharge. That subtle shift in mindset could lead to more successful sprints with fewer negative costs.
For your more creative types, better recovery and improved mental health can lead to more pronounced flow states, leading to better creative output. Do yourself a favor, and ask your design team how creative they feel when they are on the cusp of burning out. Trust me, it's not pretty!
Find a 4 day work week Playbook that works best for your team. You can search, start, set due dates, customize and send it to your team right through LEON. And even better, you can use our weekly check-in feature to understand which teams need help and which groups can be pushed harder.
A 4 day work week Playbook can not only make your team members happier and healthier but can also reduce turnover, improve recruiting practices, and drive sustainable company growth. Here are some of the benefits we've seen with starting a 4 day work week.
As a management tool, 4 day work weeks help you drive performance more sustainably while protecting your most important and expensive asset - your people. It's hard to argue the value of starting a 4 day work week Playbook with your team today.
Now that you know about a 4 day work week Playbook and why you should start using them with your team, level up your knowledge by exploring the next chapters.