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A Four-Day Workweek Success Story

You may have read that Iceland has successfully adopted a four-day workweek. Anthony Zeal, an adjunct professor in the business school at the University of Technology Sydney, explains this myth in an article for The Conversation, an independent, nonprofit news organization whose articles are composed by university scholars and researchers with expertise in the subjects that they write about.

What has actually happened, Zeal writes, is that major media outlets have misreported the findings of a study in which 2,500 government workers in 66 workplaces in Iceland tried moving from a 40-hour week to a 35- or 36-hour week. Most of the workplaces ended up cutting back by only one to three hours a week, though they were able to maintain their productivity and provide the same level of service. The experiment did result in a nationwide decrease in hours worked, but only by 35 minutes in the private sector and 65 minutes in the public sector.24

Wildbit, a small software company founded in Philadelphia in 1999, experimented with a four-day workweek in 2017 and made it permanent. The company’s emphasis on outcomes rather than volume, and on focused, deep work rather than hours logged, has allowed it to succeed with this policy.25

Wildbit’s four-day workweek is part of its people-first philosophy, which holds that work enables life and that providing good benefits while prioritizing the well-being of the business over its workers is not the right approach.26 The company is also remote-first and provides location-agnostic pay.27

What strategies have companies used to succeed with a four-day workweek?
Prioritize and reevaluate tasks
Minimize interruptions and distractions
Increase automation
Emphasize human creativity
Limit work-based social events
Reduce and shorten meetings
Spend less time on email and messaging apps
Define clear goals
Set goals that are achievable within a shorter workweek
Measure outcomes, not hours
Implement asynchronous work
Maintain employee pay
Trust workers
Solicit regular employee feedback
Learn from trial and error282930
What are some companies that have tried a four-day workweek?
The list is extensive, but here are 13:

  • Atlassian31
  • Buffer30
  • Bunny Studio32
  • The Financial Diet33
  • Galt Pharmaceuticals34
  • GooseChase35
  • Microsoft Japan36
  • Perpetual Guardian37
  • TGW Studio38
  • Treehouse39
  • UpBuild40
  • Wanderlust Group41
  • Wildbit42

Who is promoting wider adoption of a four-day workweek?

  • 4 Day Week Global43
  • Wildbit29
  • Buffer30
  • The Japanese government1
  • The Scottish government44
  • The Spanish government45

Where can I learn more about how to succeed at a four-day workweek?
Try these books:

  • The 4 Day Week: How the Flexible Work Revolution Can Increase Productivity, Profitability and Well-being and Help Create a Sustainable Future by Andrew Barnes
  • Shorter: Work Better, Smarter, and Less—Here’s How by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

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