Does the Four-Day Workweek Just Expose Inefficient Workplaces?
Back in 2018, I wrote about my team’s six-hour workday experiment for Harvard Business Review.
We found that the shorter days acted as a forcing function, prompting us to waste less time sending cat gifs in Slack, effectively prioritizing our work, automating and outsourcing rudimentary tasks, and spending more time in deep concentration.
More recently, we decided to experiment with a four-day workweek, on the back of trending news that companies like Microsoft Japan, and Buffer had found the shorter week beneficial, from both a productivity and wellbeing perspective.
I specifically asked my team of 12 employees to take Fridays off, but not to overcompensate by working longer hours on other days. They continued to work, on average, about six hours a day. We ran the experiment for four weeks and tracked a number of productivity factors such as the number and size of tasks completed, leads and opportunities generated, and so on.
We also anonymously surveyed the team on emotional wellbeing factors, such as focus, burnout sentiment, enthusiasm for work, work-life balance, and subjective sense of wellbeing away from work.
Here’s what we learned.
Improved Emotional Wellbeing (slightly)
Emotional wellbeing increased a little, per the following charts. An extended weekend, sans the pressures of having to cram five days’ effort into four longer days, and under the guise of an experiment, slightly improved emotional wellbeing.
We already offer our employees a lot of flexibility, give them autonomy and control over their work, and keep the lid on time-wasting activities such as meetings, so these results hardly came as a surprise.