Give your staff a 4-day week.

  • Trust your staff to innovate and they will
    Trust your staff to innovate and they will

Staff are by far the most expensive overhead in most businesses and usually its most valuable asset. Beyond almost everything else; getting productivity, reliability, longevity and drive out of your staff is the key to a successful business. Everything else will fix itself.

So if staff are so expensive work them five days a week right? Wrong.

For the past three years my staff have worked four days a week and I've never enjoyed working with a more enthusiastic, motivated and pro-active team. We get more work done, we are more profitable and our internal platforms and processes have leapt forward too.

Why do your staff come to work at all?

Your staff do not come to work for you for the money. Yes, sure, everyone has bills to pay but that's not what really motivates most people and certainly not why they chose you or choose to stay with you.

All good people worth keeping come to work because they want to achieve something. If they're creative they want to develop. If they're marketeers they want to make your products shine in the eyes of the world.

Ultimately they believe in you and your business and they want to be a part of its future - so trust them to help you be just that.

Won't I waste 20% of my overheads?


OK, so I'm not suggesting that you don't expect your team to turn up for work one day a week but I am suggesting that you give them a whole day in work to do as they please.

What will they do? Well that's for them to decide - that's the point - but whatever it is I promise you it will be productive, surprising and ultimately beneficial for the company as a whole.

Why does this work?

Well there are two reasons:

First your teams are probably brimming with things about work that annoy them; processes that don't work, software that's broken, stories they want to tell to customers or knowledge that they want to share with the world. Empowering your staff and trusting them with this time will not only reveal these things but it gives them the freedom to fix and solve all of these problems.

Secondly it gives your teams some sense of ownership and responsibility for the destiny of the business, their day-to-day working experience and ultimately their futures. That makes them feel safe and in control for the rest of the week. It motivates them, it invigorates them and it keeps them where you want them; working productively and pro-actively for you.

Getting into the detail.

I'm going to be looking at a few of the projects that my team has executed over the years in a little more detail in the coming weeks. If you'd like to know about these amazing projects just sign up to my weekly email.

A wiser man once said...

I'll leave you with the words of Dan Pink - and an awesome complimentary live-drawn animation. This is Dan's talk on Motivation. It's surprising and fascinating and it was a thrill to find as it validates some of my own discoveries about trusting staff with a day a week to themselves.

It's a must watch.

2 Comments on this post

  1. Jon said “Agreed!” years ago
    Gravatar for Jon

    I agree whole heartedly. I think a few folks on twitter skipped the article and leapt to the conclusion that you're giving staff an extra day off work. I'm always in; if there's a client priority, then I'm there to work on it. We take the approach that there's no sword of Damocles over my head lest I stray from "work" work now and then. This results in me working on my "own" stuff 1 day out of a week, but this is invariably directly linked the business. That means if I think that I'm wasting irritating amounts of time posting links to Trello boards, I can write a quick Express app that parses tags from my Pocket feed and handles that for me. I've written deployment flows, build process, blogging software, npm modules, entire side projects and entire new languages in this time, all in a few months since we started. When I'm working on client work, I can't tell you often I think "I remember how to fix that from side project XYZ, or "we could use Database Foo for this, I implemented it last week". TL;DR Keep your team up-to-date, motivated, efficient, happy, and creative. Encourage them to do some self initiated work.

  2. Matt said “Like the idea, but...” years ago
    Gravatar for Matt

    I've seen a few companies do this and really like the idea.

    However, it's always thrown up some questions for me, such as:

    * do you all take the same day off paid work?

    * what day of the week do you take off?

    * what if the phone rings and a client wants something that day?

    * how do you stop people slipping back into client work?

    * does it create any rifts if someone does paid work, someone else plays games?

    * do you speak to someone if they always choose to work?

    I can see it being a great idea, but imagine it's very easy to slip into a 'paid work' day scenario on this 5th day.

Jim Morrison Rumsfeld's Law is written by Jim Morrison; founder of twiDAQ and owner of Deep Blue Sky Digital, a full service digital agency in Bath, UK.

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