Why we switched to a 4-day work week

Reusser Design switched to a four-day work week, increasing productive time while minimizing interruptions.

Recently, Content Strategist Andy Welfle gave a short presentation about how we work: he reported on many of the ways the modern workplace is not set up to facilitate work, but rather interruptions. (Check out this video by Jason Fried of 37Signals and his thoughts on interruptions.)

Concentration happens like sleep; it comes in waves. Quality work, like quality sleep, happens best when left uninterrupted, and when we’re interrupted, often we start back at the beginning of a wave, where we’re prone to make more mistakes. In fact, even a three second interruption can increase the errors you make at work.

There are lots of ways to minimize interruptions, and we’ve tried to implement some of them. Rather than active interruptions, our team now employs a passive interruption technique — through Campfire, a chat-based communication tool.

One of the most drastic changes we’ve made is to lengthen our work days, while shortening the number of those days. Starting a few weeks ago, Reusser Design switched to the four-day work week — we’re creating websites ten hours a day (6:30 AM to 5 PM), Monday through Thursday.

The four-day work week? How does that work?

Ryan Carson, the owner of Carsonified, has long extolled the virtues of the four-day work week.

There’s a big hump to get over in client perception, he says:

When we tell people that at Carsonified we only work 4 days a week  then the general assumption is that we don’t get as much done as other companies. That our workload has to be reduced in order to fit into our smaller work week. “You can’t do a full time job in just four days,” is the most popular reaction.

In fact, we can. When we eliminate distractions or tackle their source, we can be just as productive in four days as we can in five days. In fact, we find that we’re just a little more productive.

Longer work days mean more concentration time, and that, paired with a conscious effort to minimize interruptions, means more productive days. And as a bonus, our team gets Fridays off to work on creative projects, spend more time with their family, or maybe just sleeping in!

Fear not; this doesn’t mean out clients can’t get ahold of us on a Friday! We rotate team members on Fridays to answer phones, answer help desk tickets, or be available for walk-in visitors. We’ll be available for emergencies or for rigid client schedules.

Otherwise, you’ll see us coming in early and leaving a bit later on Mondays through Thursdays. Besides that, you may catch us working at Founders for personal projects or at a Friday movie matinee.

If you’ve been thinking about doing this, too, drop Nate a line — he’d be excited to talk to you about it!