Ask DN: 4-day work week?

over 3 years ago from , Creative Director @ Design by Cosmic, Inc.

Hi DN,

We're considering experimenting with a 4-day work with at Design by Cosmic and I wanted to see if any of you have experience working with this method.

We would work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

We're hoping that the 3-day weekend will help our team avoid burnout, improve work/life balance, and even (hopefully) increase efficiency and creativity.

Do any of you have experience working this way? How has it affected your work and life?

22 comments

  • Jon GoldJon Gold, over 3 years ago

    4 day work week sounds great; I don't know if I'd enforce 10 hour days the rest of the week though.

    We don't really count hours at Makeshift, though for the first 9 months or so I'd always be the person locking up the studio every night. I wasn't in super late (maybe only 8pm-9pm), but still there for a few hours later than everyone else. I /thought/ it was me being super productive and dedicated, but looking back on it now I really didn't get much done at all, and also realised I was hardly spending any time with my girlfriend and friends. These days I tend to peter out ~5-6pm along with the rest of the team. I could keep going longer (and occasionally do if I'm really into what I'm working on), but being well rested the next day is more important than counting hours imo.

    tldr: 10 hour days suck.

    5 points
  • Carolann BonnerCarolann Bonner, over 3 years ago

    Great idea! At thoughtbot, we spend Monday - Thursday on client projects and use Fridays as internal/side-project investment days.

    Sometimes you might work on a client project on a Friday, but it's usually in an effort to get ahead of schedule.

    We still keep the general 9-5 hours Mon-Fri.

    5 points
  • Kelly SuttonKelly Sutton, over 3 years ago

    I would also ask the Elepath guys about this. I know they have experimented with 4-day work weeks.

    4 points
    • Eric Ressler, over 3 years ago

      Thanks Kelly

      1 point
      • Pasquale D'SilvaPasquale D'Silva, over 3 years ago

        We love them. We've been doing 5 in the winter though. Means earlier days home.

        Really, we don't measure the number of hours worked - we measure if we hit our goals for the week. Need a day off for a breather? Do it!

        11 points
  • Nathan NashNathan Nash, over 3 years ago

    A four day work week would be amazing, I could go out on Thursday nights.

    4 points
  • Suleiman Leadbitter, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Ryan Carson of the late Carsonified but current Treehouse swears by this working method. There are quite a few articles on his blog about this.

    I'm guessing the success of his businesses are some what testament of how well it can work out :)

    3 points
    • Eric Ressler, over 3 years ago

      Treehouse has been a huge inspiration for us actually trying this. I'll read more of Ryan's blog to see how this has worked for them.

      2 points
  • Justin RuckmanJustin Ruckman, over 3 years ago

    Work when there's work to be done. Rest when you've earned it, or you need it. Ideally both. At least that's what I've always done.

    3 points
  • Cory HughesCory Hughes, over 3 years ago

    I work 40 hours, sometimes more (yay overtime/deadlines/etc.), a week over 4 days.

    tl;dr: I do this and I love it, use day off to work on personal projects.

    I take mondays off because they suck. Joking aside, I actually like Mondays and usually use the day to work on my own stuff. (I am currently re-designing my portfolio. Long overdue.)

    My boss suggested this as I travel almost 2 hours to work each day. (Yeah. Crazy. I know. Not getting into it.)

    I love it! Sure, my days are incredibly long, but my productivity has gone up. I get more stuff done, but that might be to the fact that I am usually the only one in the office.

    Like I said above, I am using my mondays to work on personal projects or on less productive days, the usual weekend stuff.

    That said, I'm young and I only see family on weekends anyway.

    I am usually tired by the end of the day but no more tired than I was before working "normal" days.

    One issue that I've found is the confusion of whether I get paid for stat-holidays since i don't work on mondays but still work a 40 hour week.

    This work style suits me. (I think this is key) I am an exception in my company. I am not sure if that's breeding resentment, but they also commute an average 30-45 minutes/day.

    I would consider offering your employees a choice & see how it works out for them. Circumstances might be significantly different. They might have kids, family or other needs.

    My apologies for the essay. ;) If you have any questions, please feel free to ask here or on twitter (@pumpki).

    3 points
  • Philip KarpiakPhilip Karpiak, over 3 years ago

    Sounds like a good experiment and it can’t hurt to try! I’ve taken a few days off every now and then to work with such a schedule, but just couldn’t find myself able to focus for 10 hours per day (I probably should have experimented for longer).

    2 points
  • Erik LevitchErik Levitch, over 3 years ago

    Why does it have to be about hours? If you get your work done then go home or do something fun for the company.

    2 points
  • Pedro PintoPedro Pinto, over 3 years ago

    I think at 37signals (now Basecamp) they also do that during Summer

    1 point
  • Tor Løvskogen BollingmoTor Løvskogen Bollingmo, over 3 years ago

    If I could ask: if you want to avoid burnout and improve work / balance – why not do four 8-hour days a week?

    1 point
    • Eric Ressler, over 3 years ago

      We're working on improving efficiency as it is, so we're thinking about starting with the same number of hours per week. I think the eventual goal is to improve efficiency to a point where we'd only do 8 hour days 4 days a week but we just aren't able to do that yet.

      0 points
      • Tor Løvskogen BollingmoTor Løvskogen Bollingmo, over 3 years ago

        What are you doing to improve efficiency and what's your goals?

        1 point
        • Eric ResslerEric Ressler, over 3 years ago

          A lot, but here are a few things:

          1) Less meetings whenever possible 2) Afternoon uninterrupted time - no interruptions, everyone quits chat and email, focused time 3) Standing meetings each day to synch up quickly at the beginning so we don't block each other

          1 point
  • Spencer HoltawaySpencer Holtaway, over 3 years ago

    I have a standing appointment every Wednesday afternoon which is across town and forces me to leave the office around 1pm and then work from home for the rest of the day.

    I rarely bring actual 'doing' work home with me but rather use the time to more loosely think about what I'm working on.

    I have found that my productivity has increased dramatically because I force myself to focus on 'doing tasks' on the half day on Wednesday and genuinely make creative leaps in the afternoon work from home time I would never make in the office with all of its distractions. Better yet, I then usually head to the office a little early on Thursdays to take advantage of the quiet time to do they work related to my Wednesday afternoon thinking.

    In the 9am–6:30pm, Monday–Friday that I had been doing for 3+ years put me in a pattern where all of my time was spent at a desk trying to work in a state of constant interruption with great difficulty focusing.

    Being allowed to respect our individual, natural working/creative patterns in our commercial work (instead of being forced to follow a strict timetable) could be hugely beneficial for workers as well as companies.

    1 point
  • David ByrdDavid Byrd, over 3 years ago

    http://dcurt.is/work-like-hell

    0 points