Lessons Learned From Implementing the 4-Day Work Week


In the endless U.S. debate over work-life balance for the new year and beyond, a hot topic has emerged: the four-day workweek. From tech early adopters like Buffer and Basecamp to the United Auto Workers in September, a shorter week has been touted by many as not only a solution to burnout but the natural evolution of labor for today’s connected world.

As a creative company, creating sonic branding and sound experiences for brands, we wanted a meaningful path forward through the burn-out running rampant at creative companies, and our founder, Joel Beckerman, has never been a fan of incrementalism. We aren’t going to address an industry epidemic of creative exhaustion with snacks and summer Fridays. Big swings only and the four-day week fits the bill.

So, last spring, we embraced it. We were excited, the staff was excited and even our clients seemed kind of excited. What kind of creative ideas can you come up with if your mental health is better cared for? And the more companies that prove this works, the closer we may all be to a new normal.

But what’s interesting about big swings is that you can’t hit it out of the park without first mastering the basics. It’s the attention to foundational skills, a well-thought-out game plan and consistent practice hygiene that set the stage for moments of glory. The four-day week is no different, with the unexpected effect of exposing your company’s foundational weaknesses. Sometimes with a bit of nuance to age-old problems. Below are the top three we continue to work through.

Lack of boundaries

We know many of us are not good at setting boundaries at night and on weekends, but the four-day week exposed the dire need for a culture of boundaries during the workday.

When we flipped to the four-day model, most folks instinctually went into overdrive with their eye on the Friday prize. But science shows we all need structures and breaks during the day to be effective. Five minutes with a cup of tea. An off-camera meeting. 52 minutes for head-down work. Scheduled Slack time versus an always Slack habit. It all requires setting boundaries and being vocal about them without fear.

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