“Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest” was the platform and slogan of Robert Owen, a Welsh textile mill owner, social reformist, and labor activist who began actively advocating for a shorter workday in 1817.
Back then, the working day could range from 10 to 16 hours, but Owen’s campaign still failed to gain traction. His ideas were only adopted more than a century later, in 1926, by industrialist Henry Ford. Ford's factories became some of the first workplaces in the U.S. to formally implement a 40-hour, five-day workweek.
It's now 2022, and the model envisioned by Owen over 200 years ago and championed by Ford 100 years ago still defines the structure of modern work. The 40-hour, five-day week has become the baseline standard for virtually every industry, from manufacturing and retail to finance and technology.
Yet, despite the ubiquity and enduring appeal of the five-day week, many companies have begun to question its value—particularly in industries and sectors defined by “knowledge work.”
Why implement a 4-day workweek?
What made sense on the manufacturing floors of factories in the early 20th century makes a lot less sense for today’s companies and workers.
Recent data shows that most workers only accomplish around three hours or less of genuinely focused work per day—yet longer hours are too often the go-to response when companies seek greater productivity or output. Ironically, working longer hours almost always means even less work ends up getting done.
One of the driving forces behind the 4-day week is challenging the mistaken assumption that simply being at work means that meaningful work is being done. At Wildbit, we believe there’s a better way to do business and create a positive, supportive environment in which people can do their best work—and we also have data to prove it.
Check out more 4-day workweek stats that prove the 4-day workweek is paying off for companies and their employees.
The 4-day workweek at Wildbit
Wildbit transitioned to a 4-day work week back in 2017. What began as an experiment soon became an official policy and a crucial pillar of what we call people-first operations.
For the past five years, we’ve been laser-focused on outcomes—the quality of work delivered—rather than output, or the volume of work delivered. The concept of deep work is pivotal to this idea.
In his 2016 book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, author Cal Newport defines deep work as:
Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
The secret to getting work done in less time lies in ruthlessly prioritizing deep work. Doing so gives our team the opportunity to focus on the work we hired them to do—without interruptions.
As important as it is, deep work is exhausting. Just like any muscle in your body, your brain needs time to rest and recover, especially when you work it hard.
You can't have deep work without the other partner to it. And that's rest.
Working a 4-day workweek at Wildbit means four days of truly focused work where we solve hard problems and three days we have completely to ourselves to do whatever we need to recharge. Thanks to three-day weekends, our team is happier, more committed, refreshed, and ready to go on Mondays.
Since transitioning to a 4-day week, we’ve proven the naysayers wrong again and again. We’ve grown as a company, remained a strongly profitable business, and helped many other organizations recognize the value of focused work and the 4-day workweek.
Here are some pieces we published over the years about our experience with a 4-day workweek:
- Experimenting with a 4-day workweek
- 4-day workweek update
- 4-day workweeks: the experiment that never stopped
- 4-day week: Which day should you take off?
- How to handle customer support on a 4-day week
- Insights from companies who implemented a 4-day workweek
If you'd like to chat with us about the 4-day workweek and our approach to building a people-first business, please reach out to email@example.com.
Widbit's 4-day workweek in the media
- Nice workweek, if you can get it Oct 27, 2021
- Small Businesses, Big Lessons: People-first Business Oct 21, 2021
- Some companies are exploring a 4-day work week Aug 8, 2021
- Is a four-day week the future of work? Jul 31, 2021
- The Rise of The Four-day Workweek Jul 22, 2021
- CNN Newsroom: The 4-day workweek at Wildbit Jul 7, 2021
- Kill The 5-Day Workweek June 17, 2021
- Enjoy The Extra Day Off! More Bosses Give 4-Day Workweek A Try Feb 21, 2020
- Thank God it’s Thursday. Making the case for a four-day workweek Jan 24, 2020
- 4-day work week? At Microsoft, productivity rose 40 percent Nov 6, 2019
- Is the 4-Day Work Week Finally Here? These US Companies Are Testing It Out Jul 3, 2019
- Four day work weeks sound too good to be true. These companies make it work Jul 1, 2019
- How we make a 32-hour, 4-day week work for us Mar 21, 2019
- ‘It isn’t nirvana’: How four founders managed a four-day workweek Jan 18, 2019
- This company shifted to a four-day workweek–and it’s going great Dec 7, 2018
Companies that have embraced the 4-day workweek
In recent years, many other companies have adopted a 4-day week, many of whom have seen remarkable results, including an increase in employee happiness, significant productivity gains, and improved staff retention, among other benefits.
With this directory, we're putting the spotlight on fellow companies who believe that you don't need five days a week to do great work. Know of a company operating on a 4-day week that isn’t included here? Has your company decided to embrace a new way of working? Let us know, and we’ll update our list.