4DWW Challenge: How IWT spends its long weekend

This is part of our series on IWT’s 4-Day Workweek Challenge, where we take you behind the scenes to show what it’s like for us as we test out a compressed work schedule. The post you’re about to read is written by Tony Ho Tran, a professional journalist for The Daily Beast and a former copywriter for IWT. Join us as we dive deep on the highs and lows of the challenge. 

I was driving to the gym the other day when I nearly ran into a massive line of cars stretching down the block in my neighborhood. 

At first, I thought there was an accident or some sort of an emergency—until I saw them: kids with backpacks running to their parents’ SUVs and minivans. 

“Oh duh,” I thought when I remembered the elementary school in my neighborhood. “Summer’s over.”

There was a time when that sentiment would have filled me with a soul-shattering sense of despair. Summer’s over. No more free time. No more vacations. No more hanging out with my friends and riding bikes around the neighborhood. 

Most of all: No more fun.

A haunting statistic

Sometimes that feeling doesn’t end when you graduate. For many, life post-college means the usual 9-to-5 grind, where all many of us look forward to is the weekend. 

And for many, even a weekend is a privilege. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 27% of single job holders and 58% of multiple job holders worked on the weekends. 

While a lot of that can be attributed to the type of job (food service, retail, etc.), additional reporting from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Americans tend to work longer weeks and more weekends in general than other developed nations.

Think about that. Many U.S. job holders don’t even take a full weekend. 

This isn’t to tut-tut at anyone who works like this. Taking time off is a privilege. We all have our own financial situations, and sometimes you need to do it in order to get by. Sometimes you just like doing it. 

But at IWT, we wanted to deconstruct the idea of “working for the weekend” and see if we could design a different kind of workweek, one that gives us more focus when we are at work and more rest outside of it.

How IWT spends its day off

At IWT, we’ve been talking about freedom for over 15 years, like starting a business that allows you to set your own schedule, landing a dream job that gives you autonomy and flexibility, and getting your finances in order so that you can live life exactly that way you want.

In many ways, the 4DWW is an extension of these values. 

Throughout the Challenge, the team has been asking ourselves, “What is our Rich Life? What do we want our ideal day or week to look like? And can a 4DWW help us get there?” 

In other words, we’ve been embracing intentionality. That’s what the 4DWW Challenge is about. We want to see how we can be intentional about the way we work—and the way we rest.

That’s why I want to share some of the ways that a few IWT employees have been spending their time on their days off. 

One thing you’ll notice: We are as intentional with our day off as we are with how we work. IWT employees are incredibly driven, after all. We know that when we want to get something done, we need to truly consider the best ways to go about it before we even take the first steps.

Even the ways we spend our weekends.

“The extra time to hang out together has been amazing” 

“If you’re familiar with Chicago traffic, you know what a nightmare it is to go anywhere on a weekend. I use my extra weekend day to run errands while most people are working. It makes getting around the city easier and it usually means the grocery stores, etc., are much less crowded. 

“Coincidentally, my sister is also off on Fridays now and we’ve been doing things together, which has been a lot of fun. Shopping, pedicures, lunch. The extra time to hang out together has been amazing

“I am also currently recovering from surgery and was able to schedule my doctor appointments on Fridays. That’s been extremely helpful because I don’t have to worry about juggling my schedule to fit appointments in during work hours (that always stresses me out).”–Jessica Rossetti, Student Success Specialist

“My son and I have become closer than we ever were”

“The 4DWW that we have been testing out this summer has been priceless to me.

“Since being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and going through surgery to have it removed, I have an entirely new outlook on life. I realize that every minute counts and I try to spend as many of them as I can with my family.

“I use the extra day off each week to spend with my son, one-on-one, just the two of us. Since it is like a ‘bonus day,’ I never feel guilty as though I’m using up my PTO or losing pay to spend the day on activities that to some seem frivolous. 

“The fact that I can spend an entire day with my son doing everything from swimming, going to the movies, shopping, or having one of our random ‘Left, Right, Center’ days has been something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  

My son and I have become closer than we ever were and learned so much more about each other than we ever would have without these days spent together.

“My extra day is spent making memories!”

–Rosanna Armbrust, Senior Student Success Specialist

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“He loves kicking my ass in Monopoly”

“Getting somewhere with my art”

“I am using my day off to work on getting somewhere with my art. I haven’t had time or energy for it in a long time. I write, make music, and I’m getting into digital art. Though I’m rusty on music and new to digital art.”

–Andy McNeill, Marketing Associate

“Fridays are my recharge day”

“Fridays are my recharge day. It’s great because I feel like it doesn’t have the pressure of a PTO day, so I can do more down-to-earth things: I’m either playing with my kids, taking my dog on a hike, or just getting more done around the house.”

–Erik Larson, Sales Leader

“Some extra time to recharge”

“The wife and I mainly use it for traveling around Oregon. For example, we’ll head out to campsites, swimming spots, or popular hiking trails, which tend to be less crowded since we’re there prior to the weekend. 

“On the days that she is working, I’ll typically go handle some errands that we put off or try to schedule a D&D game with my online buds. The flexibility of an extra day really lets me handle anything I need outside of work hours or just gives me some extra time to recharge for the next week.”

–Frank Matos, Tech Leader

Adventures include the Eras Tour in Seattle (right)

“The flexibility to spend extra time with them on their summer break”

“I spent most of the day with my kids. Recently, we went to an immersive Disney exhibit, the science museum, to see the Barbie movie, shopping at the mall to spend my daughter’s birthday money, and less fun things like doctor or dental appointments so they didn’t need to be pulled out of school.   

“Sometimes we spend the day doing chores so we could do something fun on the weekend with the entire family like heading to a water park. It was so nice to have the flexibility to spend extra time with them on their summer break.”

–Andrea Yochum, Executive Assistant / Project Manager

Cheering on the Akron RubberDucks

“Walking around Target with cake pops”

“We’ve been trying to make sure Fridays—my day off—stay open for slow, quality family time. On my day off, I usually spend the morning playing a game with my 4-year-old while my 4-month-old hangs out with us (see photo of cute kids and wild messy house). Then we play outside. After lunch, we usually go out somewhere as a family, either to the park, a fun new coffee spot, or just walking around Target with cake pops. (Is there anything better than cake pops?)” 

–Nasrin Chiappetta, Project Manager

Sometimes a Rich Life can be a cardboard box filled with stuffed animals

Living life intentionally

A couple of common themes:

  • We make the most of it. Remember: IWT is intentional about how we spend our time in and out of work. Notice how no one mentioned watching TV or scrolling through social media (though there can be time for plenty of that!). Each moment is spent making the most of it—especially for those of us who have kids and families.
  • We take care of our mental and physical health. It’s illuminating that multiple people have talked about using the 3-day weekend to go to medical or psychiatric appointments. This really underscores how downright toxic American work culture can be—and how the 4DWW can address some of these issues (at least in part).

In all, perhaps the biggest takeaway is this: The 4DWW has given us more clarity into the way we work and rest. 

The 4DWW isn’t just about getting more time away from work. It’s about where we put that time: spending it with families, taking a hike with loved ones, strolling through Target with cake pops, or picking up a new hobby like digital art. 

The 4DWW is also helping us live our Rich Life at work — to be more focused, choose projects that give us the most value and joy, and work with each other more creatively and collaboratively.

The 4DWW is all about living life intentionally—and that’s what makes all the difference.

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