Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m not really a newsletter aficionado (though there a couple I like), and I don’t go into this with a grand plan, but it feels like something worth trying.
There’s a lot happening now with the 4-day week— more and more companies announcing trials or reporting on recent trials, governments experimenting with shorter workweeks, politicians declaring their enthusiasm for a 4-day week, and a growing shelf of books extolling its virtues. It felt like a good time to pull together something that captures all the news.
My idea is to use this newsletter as a tool for collecting signals about the 4-day week, for talking about new work that I’m doing, preview new work, and share news about other initiatives I’m involved in.
I figure I’ll figure out the format as I go along.
Advertising executive Sara Tate talks in Campaign Live about working 4-day weeks while running TBWA London.
Tate explained that when she was offered her current role four years ago on a four day-a-week basis, by TBWA's worldwide president and CEO Troy Ruhanen, she was “genuinely surprised”.
“I wasn’t expecting to be offered the CEO role on those terms," she told Campaign. "Not only was I being offered the role as four days a week, I was being offered it on four days a week as a first-time CEO.
“In all honesty, I felt that back then this was a global CEO (Ruhanen) who was incredibly enlightened. At the time it felt to me like they were taking a risk – but now I recognise that to be presumption and negative thinking on my part.
"In truth Troy and the TBWA collective were simply putting their faith in me as part of their commitment to hiring female leaders”.
What’s striking here. It’s always a fraught enterprise to give a spin on someone else’s story, but to me Tate’s experience illustrates how going it alone with a 4-day week can be really challenging, and how there are real benefits to doing it for everyone. A structural, collective approach can eliminate the stigma of being the only one among your peers who’s doing it; turn what many treat as a zero-sum situation (why does SHE get to leave early?) into a cooperative enterprise (what do we all have to do to not have to come in on Friday?); and motivates collective changes inefficient practices and improve company culture. When everyone it doing it together, you don’t have to be hesitant about talking about it. You’re better off sharing what you’ve learned, so you can learn from others; informing your clients, so they’re in the loop and can support your effort; and publicizing your initiative, so you can claim the reputational benefits.
A number of small creative firms in the UK have moved to 4-day weeks or 6-hour days over the last few years, and have enjoyed better recruitment and retention, work-life balance, and improved creativity. It would be great if a big firm like TBWA were to adopt it, too.
Australian writer Kara Martin, who writes about work and faith, makes “A Biblical Argument for a 4-Day Week:”
a 4-day paid working week is good, because it has the potential to free us up for important unpaid work such as caring responsibilities….
Genesis 3:17–19 reveals that work has been impacted by the fall, and so is tainted by sin. We see the impact of sin in overwork, not enough work, and struggles affecting our work.
In combating such impacts, a 4-day week may enable more purposeful and effective working, and greater rest between paid work.
What’s striking here. I’m the last person in the world who’s qualified to judge Biblically-informed arguments, but the fact that the 4-day week has attracted attention in these circles is another sign of how ubiquitous it’s becoming.
“Seoul mayoral candidates compete to reduce number of workdays, boost work-life balance.” The race for mayor of Seoul is heating up, and one interesting development has been that some of the candidates are promising to push for a shorter workweek if they get elected.
A four-day workweek is emerging as a hot-button campaign issue as Seoul mayoral candidates promise a compressed work schedule ahead of the April by-elections, with debate ensuing as to whether the pledge is realistic and economically viable for South Korea and its capital.
Koreans are well aware that there are serious problems with overwork, and that this is now having a serious impact on economic productivity, to say nothing of work-life balance, family size (there are big concerns about the shrinking birth rate), and gender disparities in the workforce.
A big announcement coming soon.
In the meantime, check out the cover for the Icelandic edition of SHORTER, out later this spring!