August 21, 2019

65: The 32-Hour Work Week with Natalie Nagele

Working 60, 70, 80+ hours in America has become the norm for too many teams. Yet it seems impossible to get everything done in only 40 hours.

Not for the employees of Wildbit. This week’s guest shifted her organization to a 32-hour, 4-day work week. Over a year into it, they’re seeing more positive results than they could have imagined.

Natalie Nagele is the co-founder and CEO of Wildbit, the company behind Postmark, Beanstalk and Conveyor. With 29 team members across 5 countries working on multi-million dollar products for developers, she’s proving that you can grow an extremely profitable business while focusing on shorter work days, an enjoyable work-from-anywhere environment, and staying small.

Natalie and I talk about why her company moved to a 4 day, 32 hour work week. She shares how she introduced it and managed the transition, the surprising impact it had on the people and the company, and how you might translate this practice if you work in a larger organization.

Read the related blog article: Make a 32-hour Work Week Work For Your Team

Join the Modern Manager community to get Natalie’s overview of the 4-day work week which includes a description of their paid time off plan.

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  • We started with only working 40 hours per week and truly limiting our hours on weekends and evenings before moving to a 32 hour work week.
  • Agree on a hypothesis about the impact or why you’re making the shift to a shorter work week e.g. We believe we can accomplish the same amount of work with greater focus and increase the quality of work by having more time to rejuvinate outside of work.
  • To make this work, you need to be extremely intentional about what work to do and how to do it. You need to change the mindset, processes, and priorities, not simply cut hours.
  • Experiment with changing your communication methods. Cancel all standing meetings to see which ones you really need. Turn off Slack for 1 week or have everyone turn off all notifications to see how it enables people to focus better.
  • Position the shift as an experiment which you can measure. Check in on it weekly – how people are feeling, what might need to shift, etc.
  • After 1 year of the 32 hour work week, Natalie’s team had increased the quality and quantity of their work!
  • 4 days isn’t the answer for every team or every person. It could be 6 days of 5 hours of work per day.
  • For knowledge workers, especially, it’s a managers job to help identify what a reasonable amount of high value work looks like so that we can move away from “hours in the office” as a sign of productivity.
  • For larger corporations where you can’t change the workweek structure, look for opportunities to create flexibility in the work week by having each person deliver a specific set of tasks or value – if I get XYZ done, it’s been a solid week and you can go home early.





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