Based on my experience, one of the incredible things about being in a start-up, particularly in tech, is challenging everything by asking lots and lots of questions. Most often the answers to the questions come back to a central theme – because that’s the way it’s always been done. To that I say, “Yes, I know this is the way it’s always been done—but is there a better way?”
Let’s question everything. From our questions can flow incredible things — ideas that seem a bit ridiculous … until they become common. Questions like: if we worked less, could we actually be more effective and productive? If we approached our work differently, could we be better outside of work?
I think it’s important to ask questions in all parts of our lives and work. It’s useful to look at something that have been done one way for so long that it’s become a default, and then shift it slightly, just to see what happens — and to see what might improve.
That’s the motivation behind our company’s experiment with a four-day workweek. We’re turning Fridays into something more like Saturdays or Sundays — genuine time off, with no planned meetings or work. Our Board, Leadership Team, and People Ops team have been supportive, and we’re eager to see how the pilot goes.
What’s the rationale? Work is changing and the biggest obstacle we have to face is burnout. It’s why we launched Conscious.org, a place to catalog all the future of work experiments that we’ve embraced and used to improve our internal culture.
The four day workweek speaks to a shift in people’s working styles — namely, that if you can get your work completed from Monday to Thursday, then there should be no latent expectation that Friday is time on. Instead, it can be time off — a period to rest, recover, engage with loved ones, think creatively and all the other things that enliven us.
Here’s what many of us know but can be tough to admit: Work will fill the space you give to it. My bet is that we’re going to become vastly more efficient from Monday to Thursday. We’ll trim those excess meetings; we won’t send unnecessary communications. Because we’ll have less time, we’ll get more concrete work done.
As with everything we do at Bolt, this is an experiment. To that end, we’re encouraging employees to set the following out-of-office email notification of Fridays: “I’m out of the office today because we’re working consciously here at Bolt and are currently testing out a four-day workweek. I’ll be back in touch with you on [Monday].” We’ll be tracking our successes and failures closely—and, in the tradition of Conscious.org, sharing them publicly.
Is this a way to do the workweek better? I think so, but we’re testing the hypothesis and doing so with an organization that has big goals, a growing team, and a lot on the line. We’ll keep you all updated as this moves forward, and we look forward to letting you know how we do.
Check out Fast Company’s article on how Bolt is the first tech unicorn to shift to a four-day workweek.