Introducing: IWT’s 4-Day Work Week Challenge
When I started IWT, I had a big goal: Build a company that lets me work with only people I respect and like.
Doing so helped me build a workplace with some of the most creative and talented people I’ve ever met — and teach hundreds of thousands of students how to create their Rich Life.
Over the years, I realized how CRUCIAL it was to live those values in and out of the office. (IWT doesn’t have an office BTW — we’ve always been 100% remote.)
That’s why I’m excited to announce something really cool we’re doing this summer. Think of it as a little Rich Life experiment conducted by all the top researchers at IWT.
I don’t want to be the one to tell you about it though.
That’s why I asked Tony Ho Tran, a professional journalist and former IWT copywriter, to write about it. For the next few months, he’s going to take you on a deep dive into exactly what we’re doing at IWT and how it’s helping us live our own Rich Life.
I’ll let him take it from here.
Why we’re testing a 4-day workweek
Imagine you had another day to your weekend. How would you spend it?
Maybe you’d spend more time with your family. Or maybe you’d stay out a little bit later on Sunday than you typically would. Maybe you’d use the extra day to travel more on the weekends — flying out to see friends or cities you’ve never been to but have always wanted to visit.
It’s easy (and tempting) to dream about these sorts of things. It’s another thing entirely to build a life that actually lets you do it.
For years, Ramit and the IWT team have taught thousands of students and readers exactly how to live their Rich Life. A big part of that means building your life so you have time to do the things you want to do.
That’s why this summer, the IWT team is putting their money where their mouth is — and testing out a 4-day workweek (4DWW). From May 22 through September 1, we’ll be implementing a compressed workweek schedule to see what it’s like to live one of the most common Rich Life goals.
We want to show you everything that happens along the way: the good, the bad, the frustrating. We want to dive DEEP in the nitty-gritty details of what’s going on behind the scenes, so you see what it’s actually like to work and live on a compressed schedule.
What is a 4-day workweek, exactly?
The 4DWW goes by many names: compressed workweek, 30-hour workweek, Summer Hours, reduced hours, etc.
All of it simply refers to having an extra weekend day — and working one day less.
While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about why 4DWWs are great, we’re all about the data here at IWT. Luckily, there have been a TON of large-scale studies that have shown the 4DWW has incredibly positive results.
The advocacy group 4 Day Week Global recently published a report in February that detailed the world’s largest ever trial of a 4DWW, with over 3,000 employees in 61 different companies.
Their findings revealed that the compressed workweek was so popular and successful that 92% of the companies that participated wouldn’t be going back to a traditional schedule following the trial.
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The benefits of a 4-day work week
- 71% of employees reported less burnout
- 62% of employees reported improved family and social life
- 55% of employees reported an increase in “ability at work”
- Employees reported more improved mental and physical health when compared to those who didn’t take part in the trial (43% reported an increase vs 16% who reported a decline)
- Turnover was reduced by as much as 57%
- Companies’ revenue remained “broadly the same” — and even rose 35% on average when compared to similar timespans
- While most employees reported better outcomes, those who identified as women experienced a bigger boost to life and job satisfaction
On top of that, 15% of the employees involved said “no amount of money” could get them to go back to working five days a week.
4-day work week problems and risks — what’s the catch?
When done well, a 4DWW can be a gift to employees and help many live their Rich Life.
When done not so well, it can result in even MORE stress than before.
A 2022 New Zealand pilot study found that companies that implemented a compressed workweek resulted in employees simply compressing all of the work they would have done in 5 days into 4.
This meant they needed that extra long weekend just to recover from the stress they accumulated over the course of the week.
Some of the companies that took part in the 2023 trial reported other challenges:
- Meetings were much more difficult to schedule and coordinate
- Choosing the wrong “type” of 4DWW model (more on this later) resulted in poor results
- Responsibilities sometimes fell to the managers to give employees more time off
- Some businesses — like customer-facing ones — simply just couldn’t work with a compressed workweek due to staffing and other issues
These can be some big hurdles to jump over — but that’s half the fun of this summer test for IWT. We love a good challenge. That’s why we’ve dedicated our careers to helping others live their Rich Life.
Now, we want to put our money where our mouth is.
The IWT 4DWW Challenge rules
There are a lot of different ways that companies can employ a compressed workweek. For one, a business can choose to take the same day off for every employee (typically Monday or Friday). Some even do all five days a week — but each day is just 6 hours long.
Full-time IWT employees will choose to take either Mondays or Fridays off for the entirety of the test. Other than that, things will operate as normal.
Employees will work between 32 and 35 hours per week and receive their current full rate of pay. PTO and benefits will not change.
For example, Bob the IWT Copywriter who earns $70,000 a year might choose to take Fridays off. He’ll still work 8-9 hours a day and will receive his normal check at a regular schedule for $70k/year. He’ll also accrue his vacation days at a regular rate, while paying into his 401(k) and receiving his regular insurance benefits.
The trial will take place between May 22 (Memorial Day) and September 1 (Labor Day). If there is a holiday in a given week, that holiday will replace everyone’s planned non-work day.
(Since July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, Bob the IWT Copywriter will simply take that day off instead of Friday.)
At the end of the trial, the IWT team will vote to see if we should continue testing the program. If we love it, then we’ll continue on. If not, then we’ll just go back to the way things were.
Why try a 4-day work week at all?
Based on the data, we believe that working fewer hours each week will not only benefit the personal lives of IWT employees but also have the potential to increase the quality and quantity of our work.
It’s simple: Less stressed employees make for happy employees, which means better and more creative work.
We also wanted to do this because it aligns with our core values at IWT:
- We’re constant learners. In a post-pandemic world, it’s more clear than ever that a work-life balance is important in keeping employees happy — and keeping them at your company period. 4DWW has emerged as a popular trend in this regard. We want to take the best science-backed ideas that we learn about and test it for ourselves — even if it’s a little risky.
- We’re better as a team. Collaboration and communication are CRITICAL for a successful 4DWW. Luckily, our company culture is perfect for that. We practice extreme ownership. We communicate with intent. And we love to constantly collaborate. A compressed workweek is just an extension of the values that we practice every single day.
- We come to the table with solutions. This is the most exciting part: Almost every single study we’ve read when it comes to 4DWW shows that employees become more creative and collaborative as a result. That can give us an ENORMOUS competitive advantage. Think of it as giving steroids to a person who is already a genetic freak and can bench press a minivan. The sky’s the limit at that point.
For more than 14 years, we’ve all taught people how to live their Rich Lives. That means a life lived intentionally, proactively, and abundantly.
A 4DWW might not be a part of your Rich Life. But based on the science, it’s a powerful tool to help us live on our own.
Join us in the next few months while we test it out to see what you learn — or, maybe just to daydream what it’s like to have an extra long weekend.
Stay tuned for more next week,
Tony Ho Tran