The Big Idea
Having a productive team while prioritizing their personal life.
Questions I Answer
- How do you implement a 4 day workweek?
- Can you be productive when working less hours?
- Will working fewer days increase productivity?
- How can I get my team to be more productive?
Actions to Take
- Pick up a copy of my book, The Joy of Missing Out, to learn more about Henry Ford’s shift to the 40-hour workweek.
Key Topics in the Show
Digging in deep to walk the walk around things you stand behind
Shifting how you look at the 40-hour workweek
The benefits that come from reducing the hours you work
Potential drawbacks in reducing your workweek
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes: 178: Creating Motivation at Work
Hello. Hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tonya Dalton,
and this is Episode 181. Now, you know, this season is all about leading with
confidence and just a few weeks ago, in Episode 178, I had Emma and Heather from
my team come on the show.
And we talked a little bit about how we’ve been mixing things up a little bit at the
office, things that are really allowing us, not just to operate smoothly and as
productively as possible, but also doing some things that allow us to embrace some
of our own messaging and our mission to empower ourselves and everyone around
us. And I think that’s really a key part of leading other people is making sure that the
things you talk about, the messages you’re sending out there are really things that
you’re embodying in your everyday life.
And so one of the things–one of the concepts–that we’ve been exploring is the idea
of harmony and how we can really infuse that more into our lives, not just at the
office, but also everywhere else, right? In the office, at home, and everywhere. I
mean, harmony is, after all, one of the core values for inkWELL Press Productivity Co.,
We also have the core values of family, intention, generosity, love, and excellence.
And we list them on our website for a reason: they’re important to our company,
they’re important to us as a team, and they’re important to us as individuals. Here’s
the thing: Core values aren’t just words written on your website to look good. They’re
a roadmap for how to run your business,
a roadmap that you created to help guide you in making your decisions. So
essentially they’re a way of life, not something that’s done for optics, which is
something that drives me crazy. When you see companies doing things for show to
look good, but then they run their business in a way that’s completely counter to
what they believe in. So in other words,
you need to put your money where your mouth is, and that’s what we’re doing.
We’re really trying to dig in deep and truly walk the walk of all the things that we
value and stand behind at inkWELL Press. So one of the things that we’re addressing
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as we dig into the different ways that we can really embody our core values is our
You know, the old standard Monday to Friday 9-5. And I feel like that standard has
been around for as long as most of us can remember. But when I really dove in and I
looked at the history of it, it was really surprising to me that prior to 1940, the average
standard workweek was actually 100 hours of work.
One hundred hours. I mean, that’s insane. I don’t know about you, but the idea of
working 100 hours per week and having that be the standard expectation in
business, that is kind of a crazy idea, a crazy concept. But to them prior to the 1940s,
that was normal. That was considered totally what they were accustomed to, and
nobody really rocked the boat until Henry Ford came around and he decided he
wanted to move it to a 40-hour workweek.
And I have to be honest–and I touched on this slightly in my book, The Joy of
Missing Out, but when he did this, the industry was shocked. They thought he was
crazy. They made fun of him. They mocked him until they figured out that he was
actually getting more productivity out of his workers than they were. And then they
So that’s what I want to talk about here in this episode is this idea of the standard,
and is it time for a shift? Does the 40-hour workweek still allow us to really produce
our best work? Or is it possible that we can take it even further than Henry Ford did
and reduce our working hours even more without changing how productive we are
on a weekly basis?
You know, maybe even boosting our productivity? [Gasp] I know crazy, right? And
here’s the thing: There are many studies and differing opinions on this subject, which
I’m going to dive into here in the show in just a few minutes. But I want to tell you
this: if this is something that you’ve been considering–if you’ve been thinking about
how many hours you work and you wish you worked less,
and you wish you were focused more on your family life a little bit more, then this is
the episode for you because I really want to shift how you look at that 40-hour
workweek. I really think that if we make some tweaks and some changes, you might
find that it actually makes you a lot more productive. Now I’m going to show both
sides of the coin here,
but I want you to consider some ways to infuse a little more work-life harmony into
your life and really the lives of your team members. Because truly, if you are leading,
you’re in a position where you can influence other people’s lives in a very positive or
very negative way. It’s totally up to you.
So let’s dig into this episode because I want to talk about what it would be like to
reduce our standard 40-hour workweek. And then we’re going to explore some ways
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that might help you to determine whether trimming your workweek is really gonna
work for you or if it won’t.
Okay. So let’s start by talking about the benefits because I’m on team “Less than 40
Hours.” I don’t know if that’s really a team, but I’m starting that team because I really
feel like there’s a lot of positive things that come from reducing the number of hours
whether you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, or a working professional–all of
us could experience a lot more happiness if we reduce the standard Monday to
Friday, 9-5 down to a 4-day workweek, which is exactly what we’re doing right now
at inkWELL Press. I mean, let’s just start off with this 4-day workweek, which means
a 3-day weekend.
I mean, right off the bat, that already sounds glorious, right? I mean, you could work
Monday through Thursday, Tuesday through Friday–whatever it is, that adds in an
extra bonus day into your existing weekend. Hello, that sounds amazing. I mean,
who doesn’t want an extra day on the weekend to relax, maybe take a short getaway
do something fun with your friends or your family. I mean, my hand is up. I don’t
know about you, but I definitely want to do that. And I want to enable my team
members to be able to do that, too, because I feel fairly certain that their hands are
up, too. Now, I talked about this decision to move my office to a 4-day workweek and
really test the waters of making this a longterm commitment in an article that I just
wrote a few weeks ago for Entrepreneur.
And in the article, I talk about this decision because it’s basically a marriage of
Parkinson’s law and the Pareto principle. Okay, that’s really known as a productivity
nerd’s dream because it really is. Parkinson’s law and Pareto principle working
hand-in-hand truly enables you to embrace this idea of the 4-day workweek. You
see, I live by the principle that we have the power to stretch and bend time.
We really do have that ability. In fact, I did an entire season on bending time, a few
years back. And one of the core parts of this idea of really owning our time is
Parkinson’s law. Now Parkinson’s law—we talked about before, but I’m going to go
over it really quickly just to give you a little refresher; Parkinson’s law states that work
expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Okay, let’s put that in regular terms. More simply put, if an individual knows that she
has five days to complete her work for the week, the work will stretch to fit those five
days. Now, if that same individual is told that she has four days to complete her work,
it’s been proven that the same amount of work will get done, just faster.
The extra time that got shaved off? Well, that’s just generally spent on stressing,
fretting, procrastinating, and worrying about the project. A deadline, even if it’s an
internal deadline that is set by you, that will push you forward and motivate you to
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complete the task. Having one less day to complete the task just means you gotta
hone in your focus.
Truly work does expand to fit the time allowed to it. So if we make that container of
time smaller, we’ll still get the work done. It will still be amazing. We’re just shaving
off a lot of the stress. I mean, if you think about it, Parkinson’s law is a lot like toilet
paper in the pandemic. Now, rewind and go back in time before the pandemic. Life
is free and easy with plenty of toilet paper to be had,
and you felt fine using copious amounts of toilet paper. But then suddenly there was
less toilet paper. All the shelves are bare and you shifted how you used it, didn’t you?
Suddenly, ‘Ooh, a couple of squares could do the job,’ right? Maybe you even started
paying more attention on how you doled out the toilet paper to your kids. You got a
little more serious with how many squares you really needed and you found you
didn’t really need as much toilet paper as you did before: You got by with less, and
you did just fine.
Well, time is exactly the same. Who knew time was a lot like toilet paper, right? But
it’s true. You need less time than you think. You just need to change the way you
look at the task. So one of the ways you can do this is by using Pareto’s principle. And
that was one of the first things we started doing when we really got serious about
going to a 4-day workweek.
I told my team, we need to Pareto principle everything. So Pareto principle, which is
also known as the 80/20 law or the Law of the Vital Few, it states that roughly 80% of
the outcome–your revenue, your project work, your clients–comes from 20% of the
efforts. So that means your company’s bottom line can be directly attributed to 20%
of your employees’ efforts.
Figuring out your 20%, that’s where the magic lies. So when we figure out what is
our vital few tasks that we need to do that produce 80% of the outcome–80% of the
revenue, 80% of the project work, 80% of our customer and client happiness–we can
really hone in and focus on those fewer things. Now, one of the things I like to do is I
meet with my team every Monday morning,
and we do a meeting to plan out the week ahead. And I’m checking to make sure
where we’re all focused. Is it zeroed in on the priorities, on the vital few? That way,
the four days that we’re working are not spent on the extra tasks and the stress and
the things that don’t really drive us forward. We’re spending those four days on the
efforts that align with our North star. And that makes a huge difference.
So essentially what I’m saying here is we’re not wasting time. We’re not filling up our
time on stress. We’re lasering in and we’re getting the work done. And I might add,
we’re getting the work done really well. We’re using less squares, to go back to our
toilet paper example. Less stress, more productivity. That sounds a lot like winning to
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I don’t know about you, but it really has made a difference. So let’s get into a little bit
about the benefits because even if you’re just looking at this from a business
perspective, that extra weekend day allows workers to save money on things like
childcare, for example . . . which according to some businesses in the U.S. that’s
already moved to this 4-day workweek, lends to the recruitment of more women
who are searching for jobs and careers that allow flexibility and promote better
So you’re getting better-quality candidates. Also, when we move away from that
traditional Monday through Friday model, it also saves workers and leaders alike; so
you benefit and your team benefits from experiencing some of the burnout that
we’re seeing more and more of in the workplace.
Having one less day to commute to and from work also promotes better stress,
quality of life–everything else feels a little bit easier, and it’s true so much so that
64% of businesses and organizations that have adopted the four day work week
have noticed a reduction in employee sick days. And there’s an increase in overall
engagement and happiness. So working the four days means happier, better-quality
employees who don’t call in sick, who don’t feel burned out, who feel excited and
energized to come to the work and do the best quality work that they possibly can.
Even businesses like Microsoft are seeing an increase in employee productivity
simply by moving to a 4-day week model. And I think that just goes to show that the
happier we are and the happier our team is, the more productive we’re going to be.
It’s an idea that we’ve definitely talked about here on the show. And I know you’ve
heard me talk about it, but truly when we start to implement these changes, it is
monumental in the impact it can make.
Now I know the idea of happiness is kind of the soft subject. So let’s get to a solid
number I think you’ll like: 40% increase in productivity. 40%. That’s what Microsoft in
Japan experienced when they moved to a 4-day workweek. That is a huge jump in
I mean, that’s amazing, right? But even beyond that 40% increase, I think it’s really
important to take note of this idea of flexibility, which is what you’re getting with a
4-day workweek; this idea of flexibility really is appealing to your team and to your
employees. And now that we know–we really know after this pandemic–that you
can work from home, and there’s lots of technologies that allow you to have that
flexibility, this is going to be something that people are going to be looking for more
And as leaders, that is such a valuable thing to offer. It’s so great to include that in
your compensation package. You’re going to be attracting better-quality candidates.
And truly that flexibility allows your team members to continue to grow in a
multitude of ways.
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In France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands where the 4-day workweek is
becoming more of a standard, they’ve reported roughly 77% of workers identified a
clear link between the 4-day workweek and a better quality of life.
And really for a lot of these workers that extra day from their usual work has allowed
them to use this extra time to upskill, to volunteer, and to focus-in on passion
projects. So more time to focus on taking classes, for example, on days or during
times that might otherwise be unavailable during the traditional workweek. So that
allows our team to branch out, to really grow and strengthen their skill sets, which is
a benefit to you, as a leader.
So it really is a great benefit to your employees. But let’s go ahead and take them out
of the equation just really quickly, because you might be thinking to yourself, ‘Yeah,
but what is this costing me?’ Well, here’s what Microsoft found.
They actually noticed a reduction in their utility costs. No lights are on, no air
conditioning running, right? That ends up saving money. They even found that they
saved money on things like office paper and office supplies. So they ended up ahead,
not only with happier employees, but they also saved money at the same time.
So let’s go over this again: An increase in work-life harmony among you and your
team, an increase in productivity and potentially lowering the cost to keep your
actual place of business up and running. I mean, that sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
But let’s be honest here, there’s gotta be some drawbacks. There’s always
drawbacks. And we need to look at both sides of the coin to really make a good
decision about whether this is something you want to pursue or not.
So I think we all can agree we would love fewer hours, but we also know that
everything in life bears some consequences; some are good, some consequences,
not so good. So I want to take a look at some of the potential drawbacks of
shortening up that workweek, just to give ourselves a little more perspective. But
before we do, let’s just take a quick mid-episode break.
So I’m curious if you’ve joined my Morning Momentum audio text club because
honestly, the feedback we’re getting from the people who are subscribing is
incredible. They’re really loving how we take what we talk about here in the podcast.
Maybe stretch it out, go a little bit deeper. We talk about things that we don’t talk
about on the podcast.
We give sneak-peeks at things I’m looking at, things I’m talking about, or what I’m
reading–even what I’m writing with my new book. So if you are looking for a
morning pick-me-up or a way to feel a little more energized and a little more
productive in your day, this is the tool that’s going to really help you do it.
And we have a lot of fun. They’re just really quick bite-sized tips, tricks, ideas,
strategies, little tidbits I can share with you in about two to maybe three minutes
every morning, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I think you’ll love it because if you
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enjoy listening to what we talk about here on the podcast, it’s like taking the podcast
with you every morning to help you get excited, get you energized and ready for
So to make this even easier for you to want to say yes to a little bit of Morning
Momentum, you can get your first month for $1.99. Just go to
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All right, let’s dive back into this idea of the 4-day workweek. And I know we talked a
lot about the benefits. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m totally on board with this
idea of the 4-day workweek. But I know for some of you, you’re like, ‘Well, you know
what? I want to hear both sides.’ And I think that’s absolutely what you should do.
We want to hear both sides, the good and the bad.
So let’s talk about some of the potential drawbacks because I want you to make the
best decision that truly does work for you. And I think it’s safe to say there’s always
advantages and disadvantages to anything you might choose to do in your business,
or let’s be honest, in life in general.
So, for businesses that have tried to implement a 4-day workweek without success,
one of the most common issues that were reported was that the overall costs with
making this change negatively impacted the business.
For example, organizations in the medical field, they typically employ at least several
hundred employees. And what they found was that by implementing this reduced
workweek, that proved to be too fiscally complicated to take on. And that doing so
became too operationally complex.
I really hope you heard my air quotes because I’m using them right now. I felt like
the term “operationally complex” sounded more complex than it needed to be. But
that’s the term that they used because what they found was if they did a 4-day
workweek with all their staff members, that they need doctors and nurses and
it became necessary to hire more employees to cover up the gaps in the shifts. And
they said, that led to increased labor costs. Now I would argue here that the labor
cost is probably minimal when compared to the patient care, that would be
improved upon by getting treatment from happier nurses and doctors who are
working fewer hours, who feel refreshed, who feel more energized to be taking care
of these clients.
But again, they like to use terms like “operationally complex.” I don’t. So they did find
that that maybe did increase a little bit of the cost. So that’s definitely something to
consider because obviously cost is an important part of your bottom line.
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One of the other concerns that was raised by some businesses was that they worried
that customers and clients would look for certain types of businesses that are
around all the time.
And they’re attracted to businesses that offer expanded hours versus those that
would follow a 4-day schedule. So in other words, the workers, the inside people,
right? They value this flexibility and they’re excited about it. But the companies
worry that people on the outside–the customers and the potential clients–would
feel like they weren’t getting the same value since the company wasn’t open all the
And I guess my question here would be those customers who complain, they
probably really aren’t your ideal avatar. Your ideal avatar are the clients you really
want to work with. And when you focus in on these ideal customers, which basically
boils down to the 20% that we talked about earlier when we talked about Pareto
principle, if we focus-in on our ideal customer, that’s actually where you’re going to
see growth and scaling while working less.
And I know that for us, our customers’ response to our office being closed on Fridays
has been overwhelmingly positive. Now I will say that I did make sure that when
somebody contacted us on Friday, we had an autoresponder that said that we were
closed. And I explained why we made that decision–that it tied in with our core
values, and we wanted our team members to really spend time with family. So every
Friday, this auto email responder goes out to clients and customers that reach out to
us. And I have to tell you, we’ve gotten a high number of people who respond to our
autoresponder saying, ‘This is why I want to support your company. This is the kind
of company I want to work with,’ which then makes them an ideal avatar. They’re my
ideal customer because they agree with our core values.
I mean, do we get the occasional customer who complains that we don’t reply to
emails on the weekend? Of course, we do. We’re a business. So obviously it’s going to
happen sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that I should bend and twist my core
values to align with their expectations.
You’ve heard me talk about core values before. I believe any decision you make for
your business needs to align with your core values. If it does, the right kind of
customers, the right type of clients, the ones you want to work with, they will respect
you for it.
Not everyone is going to be your customer and that’s okay. And that’s a hard thing to
grasp and to really embrace, but it’s okay. If not everybody is going to be happy with
that decision, what’s most important is that your ideal customer who aligns with
you, who agrees with your mission, your vision and your core values, they’re going to
respect you for it.
So I think if you’re on the fence with this, there’s a couple of things you should
consider when deciding whether you want to try to adopt a 4-day workweek or not.
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One of the things is you don’t necessarily have to reduce the number of hours that
you and your team work to make that 4-day workweek possible. There are many
organizations that stick to that 40-hour workweek, but instead of spreading them
across five days, they do it across four days.
So four, 10-hour days instead. So you can still allow for that 40-hour workweek and
employees can still get the benefits, but you don’t have to shorten your time.
Although I would, I would push back and say, Parkinson’s law, which we talked about
earlier. And I think truly for some people, it comes down to trial and error.
I know for us, we didn’t make this decision overnight. We started by closing the
office every week on Fridays at three o’clock. Then we backed it up last summer to
noon. And now we’re testing out the waters. ‘Let’s try being closed all day.’
We’re testing it out. We’re giving it a try. We’re reworking our systems with that
priority of being closed in mind. And, so far, it’s working. We’re getting our work
done; we’re happier. That right there: winning and winning.
But what I think is really most important, and what I want you to keep in mind is, no
matter where you stand on the 4-day workweek, is this: with the exception of a
poorly-placed tattoo, there are very few things in life that are truly permanent. Okay?
So let’s give things a try. Let’s give it a whirl. Let’s see if it works for you. And as the
leader of your team, if you want to try the 4-day workweek, go for it. If it works,
fantastic! If it doesn’t, you can always go back to the drawing board and revert back
to the standard Monday through Friday, 9-5. I think approaching your team from the
start saying, ‘We’re trying this out.’ That’s a good place to start. And here’s what I
want you to walk away from this episode remembering:
Regardless of where you stand on reducing the workweek or not, the more
productive we are, the more time we’re able to reclaim for ourselves. Time freedom
is an incredible way to live, and it’s up to you to go and live it.
So let’s think about some momentum builders to get you started. I want you to think
about what are some ways you can start exploring this idea of a shorter workweek.
Maybe not even a 4-day workweek, but just a shorter workweek than what you’ve
So, the first thing you can do is map out a possible scenario where you either don’t
work one day or you cut out early. What would that schedule look like ideally for
you? I want you to try mapping that out and seeing if there’s any possible way you
can make that work.
The second thing is if you are working in a corporation or you have a boss or a
manager, have you considered talking to them about working hours outside of the
regular 9-5? Using what you learned today, you can approach them, give them a
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little bit of pro-con-pro, give them, you know, a little bit of your good negotiation
skills. See if it might be able to happen, even if it just means cutting out of work at
three o’clock on Fridays. I would love to encourage you to think about that.
And then the third thing is I want to hear your opinion. Do you really think a 4-day
week is possible at your workplace? I would love for you to share that in my
Facebook group. So just head to Tonya dalton.com/group to join.
Every week, we talk about these momentum builders. We talk about different things
with the podcast episode, and we explore ways to really start implementing a lot of
these strategies into our everyday lives. So head over to the Facebook group and let’s
get the conversation going, all right?
And while we’re talking about conversation, don’t forget to sign up for that Morning
Momentum. Just go to TonyaDalton.com/morning, and don’t forget to use the code
PODCAST to get the first month for $1.99.
All right, next week is our last episode of the season, which I cannot believe. This has
been such a great season. I’ve really enjoyed it. And based off what you guys have
been telling me, you’re enjoying it too, which I love. So next week we’re going to be
talking about unplugging from work, all right? Sounds good? Yeah, I think
unplugging from work is not only good: it’s necessary. So let’s chat about that next
week. I hope to see you here. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and