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U.S. company permanently adopts 4-day workweek after promising trial: 'We're never going back'

'We're minimizing the amount of time you have to be in meetings. With the time you now have, you might want to work on personal development.'

U.S. company permanently adopts 4-day workweek after promising trial: 'We're never going back'
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Ryan Breslow

Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 7, 2022. It has since been updated. 

A San Francisco-based e-commerce developer has decided to make a four-day workweek a permanent policy after a three-month-long trial produced overwhelmingly positive results. Fintech startup, Bolt became the first tech unicorn—and one of only a handful of U.S. companies—to embrace a shortened work schedule, founder and CEO Ryan Breslow announced in January 2022. "I couldn't imagine running a company any other way," he told CNBC in an interview. The idea behind the policy, which came into effect on January 1, 2022, is not to necessarily take on more work hours but to work more efficiently, Breslow explained.


"A lot of companies operate with a lot of work theater, which is people caring more about the appearance of working than the actual work," he noted. "So you have countless meetings, countless documents, countless presentations. It's impossible to sift through the noise and get to the heart of the matter." At the end of the company's three-month trial of the program—which kicked off in September—the company surveyed the entire team and found that an overwhelming majority felt positive about the shorter workweek. Around 94% of workers were in favor of continuing with the four-day workweek, with 84% saying they felt more productive at work. Furthermore, 84% of Bolt's employees also revealed that they felt their work-life balance had improved since the beginning of the trial.


"We're never going back," Breslow wrote on Twitter. "Bolters have said how generous we are giving everyone a 4-day week. My response: 'I'm being selfish!' Put simply: 4dww has done wonders not just for our employees, but also for the company. Here's a crazy thought: maybe both are linked. We surveyed our team after our 3-month experiment. 80% responded: 94% are in favor of continuing, 86% are more efficient with their time, 85% of managers are able to hit OKRs, 84% have improved work-life balance, 84% are more productive at work and 80% have eliminated unnecessary meetings."



Speaking to Fast Company about making the switch permanent, the CEO said: "I think everyone thinks, 'Oh, there's no way you can grow fast and execute while working a four-day week.' We're showing just the opposite." Bolt, whose technology enables one-click checkout for e-commerce sites, did have to make some adjustments along the way before it finalized its permanent schedule. In some cases, the company added workers to accommodate the new scheduling. For example, in its customer service department, it grew the number of customer support employees by 18%, and the risk operations group grew by 50%.


A company spokeswoman explained that Bolt had always planned to expand these teams as its customer base grew, but "accelerated" hiring in those departments with the launch of the four-day week pilot ahead of the holiday season. Breslow emphasized that the four-day schedule gives employees more freedom to make choices about how to spend their time. Bolt's culture—which encourages all employees to think like founders—he said, has led people to decide if and how to use the other three days in a week. "We're minimizing the amount of time you have to be in meetings. With the time you now have, if you think like a founder, you might want to go to a conference. You might want to work on personal development. You might want to spend time with your family."


Supporters of the four-day week hope the idea will catch on, especially now when attracting and retaining workers is a high priority. "Companies we have helped to make the transition to a four-day week have reported it has significantly expanded their pool of potential recruitment candidates," said Joe O'Connor, global pilot program manager at 4 Day Week Global, which is running tests of four-day workweeks around the world. "The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are 'at work', to a sharper focus on the output being produced."

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