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Working less than 40h a week?

Angelika Tyborska on October 22, 2018

Do you work less than 40h a week as a regular employee (not a freelancer)? Most of us are familiar with the craziness around hiring experienced de... [Read Full]
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A long time ago Ryan Carson had a company called Carsonified in which employees worked four days a week.

He was a big proponent and tried to replicate it with his new company Treehouse.

I'm not sure what happened (investors pressure?) but he did a 180 saying that the employees lacked a work ethic and he backtracked from this:

I think it was more about the people he hired than the actual concept of the 4 days week. Most people are not productive for 8 hours a day. France has a 35 hour week (not enforced everywhere) and it's doing ok I guess.

It can work but you have to find the right company staffed with the right people.

We're slowly moving towards a decentralized type of work, maybe four hours week will be more accepted when people don't have to phisically be in the same place with task oriented jobs? I don't know, just talking out loud.


he did a 180 saying that the employees lacked a work ethic and he backtracked from this

Finding it hard to understand this line of thinking. Why would 5 days a week of work make people have a work ethic but 4 not? As you say, it's more of a people and motivation problem in my view


Yeah, I don't think he's telling the whole truth. Increasing working hours usually has to do with pressure to deliver something. As you say if you employees are taking advantage of the 4 days week (how?) they will do the same if you add one more day :D


Oh wow, I didn't know that he changed his mind on that.


I found out today too, researching him before writing the comment :P

I was still convinced he had the 4 days week at his new company as well.

There's a lot of bitterness in his words when he's asked why he backtracked, I don't believe he's being totally transparent about what happened, which is disappointing because he seemed a paragon of transparency "back in the days".


Not me but a senior colleague of mine at Valtech Germany works 4 days a week with a fixed day off. Also we have people with fixed home-office-days due to their long commute.

I think it makes more sense to do a shorter week, instead of 5 shorter days. At least I'd prefer it. One day to push all doctors/hairdresses/bike-repair-appointments!

I honestly don't think I'd get much less done in 4 days than on 5.

Besides when you work for a company with strong union-tariffs (IG-Metall), chances are you'll get a 35 or 37h-week as full-time.


Huh, it didn't even occur to me that, as a software developer, you can work in a company where worker unions are present. Seems obvious now.


Yes the occupation doesn't matter as much, my wife works as Buchhalterin at Rohde & Schwarz and enjoys a 35h-Week.


I recently switched from a 5 days a week's contract to a 4 days a week's to take care of my sons on Wednesday.
I worked formerly about 40 hours a week and now it's nearly 32 hours.

I live in France where this kind of contracts is very usual.
Of course, I get paid 20% less.


Great to know that! Are you the only one in your company doing this?


No, a lot of people have a 4 days a week contract in my company.
And in many other companies also. And not only in IT.


A company I worked for had a policy that you could work for 30 hours at a reduced salary and still get full benefits. I'm sure there are others out there. I think in the US, 30 hours minimum might be the norm to be eligible for benefits.

I've also heard of companies that encourage taking time off when you don't feel like working. I thought that was common in Germany? I had friends who worked at SAP 15 years ago who could take random days off because they didn't feel like going to work.


I wouldn't say it's encouraged, but I can definitely (and have done a few times) decide on Wednesday that I don't want to work on Friday and my single day off request like that would be approved. But this doesn't create any extra days off, it just uses up my current paid holiday allowance of 25 days a year.


I see. Are you looking to do Web Development work in this sort of a setting? Why don't you want to consider consulting or remote jobs?

I know that ElasticSearch is pretty flexible and so is Zapier and Auth0.

So far I really enjoy having a team I see face to face everyday in a comfortable office. I find it way easier to motivate myself to work in such a setting. But I don't rule out trying remote work at some point :). Yes, in web development. Thanks for the info!


I work 32 hours a week or so. And I know other people who do as well - I interviewed one programmer on my blog who has been working 4 days a week for 15 years, mostly as an employee:

I'm in US, but also talked to people in Canada and Germany who have done it.

There are also companies that hire for 32 hours a week, but only a handful (Amazon has some roles, though I wouldn't personally work there, Cockroach Labs, a couple tiny companies in the US.)

So you need to negotiate.

Basic idea: as an existing employee you are more valuable (business knowledge, code knowledge, people knowledge), so it's easier to negotiate shorter workweek. As new employee it's much harder, but doable if you have enough value to a particular employer and you actually negotiate.

(I'm soon going to release a book on the topic, if anyone's interested:


Hi there.

I don’t work there, but Basecamp has a motto that goes like: “it doesn’t have to be crazy at work”. They don’t have goals, long-term plans, they only work 40 hours a week, they have Fridays off on summer, no real-time communication like Slack.

I recommend you to read a bit more on


Major +1 on The Calm Company. I'm still reading it, love it so far because I'm in the middle of Silicon Valley and the book makes me feel like I'm not crazy for thinking that "the hustle", pulling all nighters, etc... is unhealthy and counterproductive.

I also found that using the Basecamp product (it's $$ to use, FYI) helped me actually be calmer at work. I used it for just myself to organize my own work life. I don't really know why it worked for me, but I eventually stopped using it because I learned some patterns that I use with Trello now. I couldn't justify spending that much for Basecamp when I was just one person and not using even a fraction of all the features.

By the way, if "the hustle" works for you, that's awesome. I don't mean to say that you're crazy for doing it, sorry if I came off that way. Just my opinion is that overall, that way to work is tough and burns people out (it burned me out). Obviously I'm biased though.


I work in an email commerce agency in Germany. I negotiated a 36hour week with every second Monday off as one of the first things after I got there. A few of my colleagues work only part time as well. So I guess it's perfectly fine and normal to work less.


I work at a charity where everyone's work week is 35 hours (In UK). Devs have the opportunity to work 4 days but it would be a condensed week so you would have to make the hours up on the other days. As a junior who runs the support queue I'm bound to business hours.


This was my reason for becoming a full time Bloc/Thinkful mentor. I was doing it on the side and then decided time > money.

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