Productivity, Fun Increase with Four-Day Work Week

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A serious perk of working at Ray Rico Freelance and Focus Mid-South is our four-day workweek.

The RRF and FMS teams made the transition from a typical five-day workweek to four days at the beginning of 2024, and so far, it’s been successful – both on and off the clock.

Making a Positive Change

So much has changed in the workplace since the pandemic began four years ago. Working from home, Zoom calls, flexible hours and hard boundaries around time off are replacing the daily commute, the “always available” attitude and office culture. The four-day workweek is a dream of many employees, but it hasn’t been adopted as quickly as other post-pandemic work changes. Here at Ray Rico Freelance, we discussed the possibility of working Monday – Thursday, rather than Monday – Friday, in late 2023, and decided to give it a go in the new year.

“Moving to a four-day workweek in January was a company-wide effort to work more efficiently while providing our team with added flexibility,” said Ray Rico, RRF founder and publisher. “We experienced various schedule changes during the pandemic, but this one has proven the most effective.”

So, is the four-day workweek worth the hype? The answer is a resounding yes:

Art Director Daphne Butler: “I now find myself coming back to work on Mondays more refreshed. Not only can I take care of myself mentally, but I also have time for my home and mom. The weekend doesn’t zoom by.”

Digital Marketing Coordinator Kelly Seagraves: “Over the weekends, I feel like I can actually pace myself, instead of having to jam-pack cleaning, errands, friends, family, hobbies, AND rest into 2 days. I think knowing I have 3 days off waiting for me helps me stay motivated and stave off burnout.”

Focus Mid-South Managing Editor Jasper Joyner: “Fridays off makes for a great buffer, leaving me refreshed to get the week going each Monday.”

Digital Media Manager Sheena Barnett: “I finally feel like I have some balance in my life. I work four days, but then I have three days to relax, travel, volunteer and generally have fun.”

Working smarter, not harder, was the key to making the transition. 

“The transition was a challenge in the beginning. At first, I panicked thinking I would be overwhelmed with the shortened schedule,” Daphne said. “After a while, it was more of reorganizing and prioritizing.”

A group of coworkers sitting at a table
The RRF and FMS teams enjoyed a working lunch at Los Comales last month. From left, Digital Media Coordinator Kelly Seagraves, Digital Media Manager Sheena Barnett, Focus Mid-South Intern Quailvarious Brown, Art Director Daphne Butler, Focus Mid-South Managing Editor Jasper Joyner and our fearless leader Ray Rico.

The team keeps a 40-hour workweek with 10-hour days during the four-day workweek. That’s actually increased productivity.

“The transition wasn’t hard at all. Working 8 am – 6 pm really doesn’t feel very different than working 9 am – 5 pm. Once I’m going, I’m going. I’ve never felt like I was accomplishing any less with a 4-day workweek. In fact, because I’m dealing with less burnout, I actually feel much more productive,” Kelly said.

The change has also worked well for Focus Mid-South and hasn’t hindered magazine production.

“As a former freelancer, I took a bit of adjusting to not just a four-day workweek but a more typical 9-5 structure,” Jasper said. “Generally, 10-hour work day is strenuous compared to an 8-hour day, but the pay off is an entire day to do whatever you like or need at the end of the week makes up for it. It’s great motivation and the sort of weekly reset so many workers could benefit from.”

Reap What You Sow

The RRF and FMS teams work hard for four days. For the remaining three days, we play hard, too.

“I’m an artist, so with that extra day off I’ve been able to keep my studio organized, and have the time and energy to actually sit down and make things again. I’m not as strapped for time, so I have the headspace to play with ideas, experiment, daydream, and plan out larger-scale projects,” Kelly said. “I don’t feel as bogged down by guilt if I just need to spend a day playing video games, reading, napping, or just staring out the window. It’s been SO much better for my mental health in general. I have a bit more time to just be human.”

Jasper spends their free time writing and mentoring, so they spend Fridays accomplishing those tasks. Daphne enjoys the three-day weekend by spending time with her family.

“I don’t have burnouts like before,” she said. “And unless I’m having a totally fantastic weekend, I don’t hate the thought of the Monday alarm.”

Happiness Overall

As the fearless leader, Rico has lead the team through the transition and is happy that they made this shift.

“The change required some adaptation, but it has allowed us to redefine what a ‘typical work schedule’ can be. As the leader of our companies, I value autonomy and encourage my team to do the same,” he said. “I’m pleased with our schedule, which helps manage our workload and provides extra time for our diverse interests and lives. It fosters individuality and allows us to be ourselves, aligning with our shared values – and it works!”

Is the four-day workweek right for your team? Share this blog with your boss to see if your team is ready for the change.

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