The 5 steps to a 4DWW

To get this done, we had 5 steps to get us there. They were:

  1. Ask the most important question
  2. Research like a scientist
  3. Get unwavering buy-in from everyone
  4. Set crystal clear expectations and targets
  5. Pitch your boss like a boss

For this issue of the newsletter, I also spoke to two leaders from 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit 4DWW advocacy group, about best practices on how to pitch your business. They are:

  • Dr. Dale Whelehan, the CEO of 4 Day Week Global. Whelehan is a behavior scientist at the helm of the group, using his deep experience in researching fatigue and sleep deprivation in healthcare workers to champion a compressed workweek. 
  • Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, the author of “Work Less, Do More: Designing the 4-Day Work Week. Along with being the global programs director of 4 Day Week Global, he’s written several books on the benefits of 4DWW and how to maximize productivity by doubling down on employee rest and happiness. 

Between these experts and IWT’s own experience, you’ll be able to set up the 4DWW for your own business in no time.

Step 1: Ask the most important question

The benefits of a 4DWW are well-researched, and honestly, kind of obvious. If you have one more day to yourself, you’ll be a happier employee — resulting in better work at your job.

Beyond that though, the scientific literature behind it overwhelmingly shows that it’s good for both employees and companies. 

But there’s one big question you still need to ask yourself before you even consider pitching a compressed work schedule to your business: Is a 4DWW right for my company — or should I forget it entirely?

“The 4-day week is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Whelehan tells us, but a flexible policy that can be molded according to your individual needs.

The truth: Not every business should go with a 4DWW. In fact, it’s simply not possible for many kinds of companies. 

These might include:

  • 24/7 businesses. Businesses that require employees to be present at all hours of the day like customer service centers and transportation companies (taxis, trucking, etc.) have enough staffing issues. While it could work, the idea of implementing a 4DWW might be completely infeasible simply due to lack of resources. 
  • Emergency services. If you work somewhere like a private ambulance, hospital, or security company, you already know how tough it is to manage the chaotic and long hours of your work. You might have to be on call at different times throughout the week. Plus, people’s lives might literally be at stake. 
  • Seasonal jobs. Think things like farm and ranch hands, tour guides, and lifeguards. Any work that comes and goes each year will be a poor candidate for a 4DWW because there’s a specific time that things need to be done, and all staff must be on deck to do it. You’ll probably never catch a farmer and his workers taking a day off — let alone 3 days off. 
  • Jobs with toxic culture. From Pang: “The places where the 4-day week is hardest have cultures that treat long hours as a sign of professional dedication, or that have well-developed pipelines for recruiting talent, working it to death, and replacing it. So don’t expect hedge funds and consulting firms with deep connections to Oxbridge and the Ivy League to move to a 4-day week any time soon; they’re making too much money to change.”

The last point is important. Ask yourself, “Do my company culture and values fit a 4DWW?” If the answer is no, then pitching a change won’t be good for you — and that’s fine if you enjoy the job. If not, don’t worry: We have plenty of resources to help you find a career you’ll love

For IWT, a 4DWW allows us all to not only live our company values, but also to enjoy what we’ve been championing for years: a Rich Life. It only makes sense that we embrace a 4DWW, because its goals align perfectly with what everyone wants from the job. 

“If your company has a strong culture of trust and innovation, then you’re ready to make the transition,” Whelehan says.

However, Pang notes that even if your job falls under any of these categories, there’s still a good chance that you might be able to work it out if your business has the staffing resources and the willingness to go through a few growing pains. 

In fact, businesses that do fall into the categories above have done it before — it just might require you to be a little more creative than other companies when scheduling.

“The evidence is clear that it can be adopted by companies of all sizes, in a very wide range of industries, around the world,” Pang says.

Step 2: Research like a scientist

This is the fun part: You’re going to research 4DWW like you’re a genius scientist on the brink of the cure for Sunday morning hangovers after one-too-many drinks at the bar. 

That’s to say, you’re going to treat research like a matter of life and death.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to convince your boss, or if you are the boss trying to convince your employees. A 4DWW is a HUGE risk no matter who you are. 

Put yourself in an average U.S. worker’s shoes. A 5-day 9-to-5 workweek is so ingrained in American culture that any alternative looks like a lazy, money-wasting bunk. 

If you fail, that means that the company loses money, you piss off clients and customers, and you end up wasting a lot of everyone’s time. That’s a trifecta recipe for unmitigated disaster — and a pink slip. 

“Gather research and evidence from sectors similar to yours, demonstrating where this has worked before, and really emphasize the business benefits,” Whelehan says.  

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