Working a 4 Day Week: 7 Tips for Getting Started

In August 2021, we at Frankli made the decision to move the entire company to a 4 day work week. As a team, everyone in the company was already focused on outcomes, and being our most productive selves. As leaders, we never spoke about inputs, time in the office or online, calls made, or lines of code written, so for us, it no longer made sense to conform to the traditional 5 day work week. 

In my opinion, this method of measuring success drives little or no value professionally, and certainly not personally (we’ve written about this in more detail here and laid out the principles behind the 4 day work week here).

In practical terms, we simply gave everyone a day off a week, with no extra hours added to the end of their day, and we let the team decide how this would work. They all proposed 5-day coverage and, between them, worked out their own days of the week to fully support all of our customers.

But it wasn’t all rosy. We struggled a little with the transition as we looked for ways to improve efficiency and make each process as lean as possible. But we learned a lot, and we wanted to share our learnings with anyone who’s either considering making the move or about to take the plunge.

7 Tips for Getting Started with a 4 Day Work Week

1. Prepare for Small Failures 

In our experience, you need to be prepared to fail and fail fast. Take the learnings, react and move on. And encourage your people to do the same. 

2. Let People Manage their own Workloads

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for companies moving to a 4 day week. Even within a company, there’ll be differences in working models, depending on roles. Those in customer-facing roles will need to do things differently than those in non-customer facing roles. You need to encourage people to take ownership over their productivity. Have regular, open discussions with the wider team and empower everyone to do what’s needed to make it work. Don’t try to mandate a standard working model, this is what we’re trying to move away from. 

3. Just Dive In

I’ve found the old adage of “fail to prepare and you prepare to fail” to be true in 99% of cases, but not so much here. You can plan for the move to a 4 day work week as much as you want, but in reality, you can’t plan for every eventuality. You are, after all, deviating from a system that’s been in place for over 100 years, and breaking a habit that you’ve likely held your entire career. Many of the key lessons will only be learned after you’ve taken the plunge.

4. Go Easy on Yourself

There’s no doubt about it - the 4 day work week is a tough concept to get your head around. We still experience this when new people join the team. Initially, they’ll work 5 days a week to get a handle on their new role and responsibilities. In most cases, they’ll try and delay the move to a 4 day work week, which surprises people externally. The 5 day work week is so ingrained in our cultural beliefs that it causes a moment of pause and even anxiety. Reminding yourself, and your teammates, that this is normal, helps you stay motivated to make it work.

5. Set an Example for your Team

Personally, I struggled with not being in work on the fifth day, and I know some of my colleagues would say the same. I found it difficult to switch off and not think about work, not check my emails or Slack messages. I felt guilty that my teammates were working when I wasn’t. Not only did this defeat the purpose of the 4 day work week, it made me very conscious about setting the wrong example. I like to provide gentle discouragement if I notice my teammates working on their fifth day, which isn’t reasonable if I’m doing the same thing myself.

6. Go All-In on Productivity 

The only way to make this model work is to take a big red pen to your current systems and habits. This means no non-value-adding activities, and always looking for ways to improve. This is constant, it never stops. At Frankli, we’re obsessed with our workflows and how we can future improve, investing in automation and tools to make us even more efficient. Our platform Frankli, which of course we use internally, has played a key role in this, helping teams connect, share feedback and align on goals in short blocks of time.

7. Make a Plan for your Fifth Day

It’s so important to refresh and recharge, whatever that means for each individual, so we can give 100% when we’re at work. To do our jobs well, we need to be creative, energised, enthusiastic, motivated, and innovative… I could go on. The 4 day week has the potential to allow for this, but we have to be diligent about what we do with our fifth day. Making plans in advance helps keep us on the right track.

All in all, we’ve made this model work for us at Frankli, as individuals, collectively as a team and, most importantly, for our customers. 

We’re a startup that needs to scale outcomes. In order to do this, we need high levels of productivity and employee engagement. We need our people to be generally happy and well, and we need to be able to attract and retain top talent. Our belief, from the research and company testimonials available, was that the 4 day work week could help with all of this. Only time will tell if we were right.

My final piece of advice? Trust your team, go with your gut and make it work. It'll be worth it.

Frankli can free up 1,000s of hours annually for your teams by helping them connect, align on goals, and exchange feedback in one, streamlined workflow. Book a custom demo to find out you can do this for your teams.

Frankli helps teams supercharge their productivity. Find out how.

‍60-Second Version: Working a 4 Day Week: Tips for Getting Started

1. Prepare for Small Failures. Take the learnings, react and move on. And encourage your people to do the same. 

2. Let People Manage their own Workloads. Don’t try to mandate a standard working model. Instead, encourage people to take ownership over their productivity. 

3. Just Dive In. You can only do so much to plan for the move to a 4 day work week. Many of the key lessons will only be learned after you’ve taken the plunge.

4. Go Easy on Yourself. The 4 day work week is a tough concept to get your head around. Reminding yourself, and your teammates, that this is normal, helps you stay motivated to make it work.

5. Set an Example for your Team. It’s tempting to pop online for a few hours of work on the fifth day, but remember that, by doing this, you’re sending the wrong message to your teammates. 

6. Go All In on Productivity. The only way to make this model work is to take a big red pen to your current systems and habits. Our platform Frankli, has played a key role in this, helping teams connect, share feedback and align on goals in short blocks of time.

7. Make a Plan for your Fifth Day. The 4 day work week yields the best results when we switch off on our fifth day. Making plans in advance can help us be more disciplined about it. 

Frankli can free up 1,000s of hours annually for your teams by helping them connect, align on goals, and exchange feedback in one, streamlined workflow. Book a custom demo to find out how you can do this for your teams.

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