The dread of Monday morning in corporate America was palpable. It would start the second I woke up Sunday morning. There was a pit in my stomach that often evolved into a panic attack. For many years, I managed this panic by working out. It sounds healthy, sure. But if you saw the particular shade of red I turned when I tried to run away from my feelings? You might change your tune. There was nothing healthy about putting that much stress on myself.
After I left corporate and founded Three Ears Media, I never felt the dread because I never stopped working. There wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday where I didn’t do something. Sometimes it was little things like updating my calendar and other weekends, I was sitting down to put in an extra 8 hours. The pandemic surely didn’t help. Nothing will motivate an entrepreneur to work like fear of the unknown and I was drowning in it. Every time I felt scared, I’d just do a little more work. Try harder.
Unfortunately, that just led to burn out. After a lot of therapy, writing, and travel, I know I was just burnt out on buying into corporate America’s bullshit. Why was I working like a corporate citizen when I was working for myself?
The History Of The 4-Day Work Week
Just like so much of society, I thought to be successful I had to mirror what was happening in the corporate world, so I had a 5-day work week. Most people, myself included, don’t realize just how much power corporate America has on how society lives. In fact, after some research, it’s pretty clear to me that companies have more power over how society evolves than the government.
You might be surprised to learn that the 5-day work week was created by a company, not policy. In the early 20th century, Henry Ford made history by introducing the 5-day work week. Ford’s decision to go from 6 to 5 working days, while simultaneously increasing daily working hours, not only enhanced productivity but set a precedent for better working conditions. That work-life balance thing everyone talks about.
Today, corporations are starting to rethink this 100+ year old 5-day work weekl. There’s a growing interest in shorter work weeks to attract and retain talent, boost productivity, and improve work-life balance. It’s working for some. The world’s most extensive 4-day work week trial which 2,900 workers from 61 companies in the U.K. — found that a 4-day work week worked for them. The participants reported significantly increased job satisfaction, improved work-life balance, and reduced employee stress. It also showed improved customer service and a significant reduction in sick days. 92% of the companies that participated decided to stick with the 4-day work week. Can’t say that about most software you’ve bought.
Why I Opted For A Flex Schedule Instead Of A 4-Day Work Week
That wasn’t my experience with the 4-day work week. I tried a 4-day work week at Three Ears Media. It stresses me out. I felt like I relied on additional effort each day of the week to get ahead. I found myself feeling guilty for working on the fifth day, not celebrating and using my time like I did with a more flexible schedule.
In my version of a flex schedule, it’s just that – flexible. I work when I want. For me, that means I set strict boundaries on when I will take calls. I make sure what needs to get done happens and I allow myself breaks when the volume of work isn’t as high. I’m also one person with a team of contractors. At the corporate level, I want to see more companies that acknowledge and respect different schedules work for different people. We can’t just think in the lines of cutting a day but how policy allows individuals to customize their work hours to align with their personal needs and peak productivity times.
Based on the wave of strikes and demands from employees, I could see flex schedules becoming the preferred alternative to the 4-day work week. Especially for candidates comparing you with your talent competitors. Don’t forget – flex work isn’t just what candidates want. It’s good for your organization, too.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.