The 4 Day Week Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The 4 Day Week will help you improve your personal productivity and that of everyone around you by outlining a powerful technique to reduce the workweek by one day and implement other changes to help employees be healthier, happier, and more focused.

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The 4 Day Week Summary

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Work is much different now than it was a century ago. And that’s an understatement when you compare it with how much things have changed in just the last decade or so. 

More people are subscribing to the gig mentality, working various freelance jobs with flexible hours. It might be nice to have that freedom, but the lack of stability can be terrifying. It is nice, however, that the internet, which is necessary for these jobs, lets us always be connected with our work. But being online also makes it hard to find balance.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way we do work these days. So how fix this huge problem? Andrew Barnes’s The 4 Day Week: How the flexible work revolution can increase productivity, profitability and wellbeing, and help create a sustainable future gives the answers.

Here are the 3 most exciting lessons I’ve learned from these innovative ideas:

  1. You don’t lose productivity when you take an extra weekday to rest, you gain it.
  2. It’s not easy to change your workplace to this new system, but communicating well is a simple way to make it go more smoothly.
  3. Don’t think of the 4 Day Week as just another day off, focus your changes on the purpose of increasing productivity.

Are you as pumped up as I am to try this out? Let’s jump in and find out how it works!

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Lesson 1: Productivity improves when you take another day off.

One day Barnes boarded an airplane heading to London from New Zealand where he lived. He had no idea the impact the copy of The Economist that he was about to read would have on him and many others. 

He came across an article that told of research on office workers in the UK and Canada. The startling figure that Barnes discovered was that in a typical eight-hour day these people were only productive for 2.5 hours at most! 

Part of the reason this was so shocking was that it brought to mind all of the people he had working for him. If these studies depicted the fate of the regular office worker, weren’t they struggling with the same problem? How would he fix it?

That’s when his mind began forming an idea. If he switched to a four-day workweek instead of five, he would only need to get an extra 40-minutes of productivity from his employees to get as much out of them in four days as they were now doing in five.

It was also the birth of his 100-80-100 principle. He figured that his people should get 100% of their compensation working 80% of the time if they could keep up 100% productivity. 

Trials in his own company showed promising results. When his staff got the extra day to relax and be with loved ones, their well-being improved. He noticed they had a better attitude, were more productive, and cared more about the company’s goals.

Lesson 2: If you communicate throughout the process of implementing this method then it will go much better.

So now you’re probably already convinced that this is a good idea, but don’t go rushing into it. Establishing the four-day week in your company is tricky. You’ve got to do it right if you want it to have the positive effects you seek. 

The overarching goal here should be to communicate efficiently. That means keeping employees engaged by explaining what’s going on but also getting their input often. Barnes gives four main principles to help you do this right:

  1. Be transparent about the purpose.
  2. Involve staff members in the process.
  3. Remember employees needs when seeking to improve productivity.
  4. Don’t make executive decisions without input from your team.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these, starting with transparency. Make sure that everybody knows that the real reason that you’re doing this. Some of the benefits you might aim for could be to improve their well-being and productivity or to attract and keep top talent.

Next comes staff member involvement. Ask them questions about what they think will help them work more efficiently. And don’t forget to listen to them!

The third key point to remember is to stay flexible according to employee’s needs. You might have in mind what to do to boost effectiveness, but if it treads on their desires, it won’t go so well. 

Most importantly is to avoid making decisions in a top-down manner. Everyone has to be on board at every step of the process for it to work right.

Lesson 3: Remember that productivity is the main purpose of the 4 Day Week, not just having another day off.

Barnes gives speeches around the world about the many improvements that his system brings. But he constantly reminds people that at the end of the day, he’s a businessman above all. 

That means running his company in a way to maximize profits, a system on which our entire economy runs and must continue. And for this to work right, companies and their employees have to be productive. 

This integral purpose of helping keep the world spinning is at the heart of the four-day week.

It’s important to recognize the vital role that business owners like Barnes play in the livelihoods of most people. Without entrepreneurs to start companies, there would be no jobs in the first place. Taxes to provide healthcare, education, and infrastructure, wouldn’t exist. If we want things to run well in the world, businesses must do well.

This is the lens through which every employee who gets to participate in a four-day week system must see the program. They aren’t just getting an extra day to relax, although that is important. No, this is about the greater good of all mankind.

The 4 Day Week Review

Finally, someone who is talking some sense when it comes to the way we do work! I’ve always been a big fan of the revolution to improve our productivity by fixing the problems with our schedules, and this book gives some solid advice on how to make it happen. I hope to see systems like The 4 Day Week becoming standard practice all across the world!

Who would I recommend The 4 Day Week summary to?

The 55-year-old CEO who is wondering how to increase productivity and take better care of her workers, the 28-year-old who wants to find ways to take better care of the environment, and anyone that hopes for more enthusiasm and well-being while on the job.

Last Updated on September 8, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.