Running Your Startup on a 4-Day Work Week

Your company can thrive with no management and a 4-day work week (if you hire the right people)

4-day work week

Have you ever heard the motto “work better, not harder”? In our endless quest for optimization, many busy entrepreneurs and small business owners have reevaluated their work schedules in an attempt to squeeze more work out of their hours. Everyone has their own little tricks involving sleep, exercise, and food to help maintain focus and motivation throughout the day. Nothing is worse than spending extra hours in the office just to feel like you’re working.

In Mexico, the startup behind Project eMT took it to the next level: they survived on a 4-day work week.

The key to their success was realizing that their employees were all self-starters, and they all enjoyed the feeling of getting work done. For a self-motivated person, freedom is the best way to cultivate productivity—let them thrive on the feeling of satisfaction they get from producing quality content.

In comparison, the worst way for Project eMT to keep their team motivated was with meetings and a scheduled work week. Imposing limitations like that results in inferior work across the board; not only do employees feel obligated to stick around the office even when they don’t have much to do, but the feeling of laziness carries over even when they do have work to do.

The startup combined this strategy with their belief in not having project managers and in working remotely. This was easier for them to pull off as they are a tech company, but the fact is that plenty of jobs can be done remotely. The company made use of their employees’ internal motivation by letting them work from home and set their own schedules.

4-day work week

But there’s a catch. This management style sounds like a dream come true, but it would fail with the majority of companies.

The staff at Project eMT were self-starters; they were the type to work at a competitive tech startup. As a business owner, you might be tempted to assume that every employee would willingly optimize their schedule given the opportunity, but in many cases this isn’t true. Some people need guidance, and the more employees you have, the more important it is to hire skilled managers to direct them.

The secret to the 4-day work week isn’t about scheduling or productivity; it’s about hiring. The people you recruit and the culture that your company creates will decide whether the 4-day work week succeeds or fails. If you and your coworkers are the type to thrive in a more loose environment, then by all means, give it a shot—the potential productivity gains are tremendous. But bear in mind that there is no foolproof way to guarantee that lenient or nonexistent management will increase productivity for every company.