Taylor Rosenbauer is a 31-year-old founder and CEO.
Taylor Rosenbauer is the founder and CEO of RocketAir. His company switched to a four-day workweek and saw an increase in revenue. Rosenbauer says that a shortened work week is more intense but employees love it.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Taylor Rosenbauer, the 31-year-old founder and CEO of global design and strategy firm RocketAir. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My company adopted a permanent four-day workweek in November 2022 and I believe our employees love it, our clients love it, and we’re never going back.
RocketAir — a global design and strategy firm with 22 full-time team members — has worked remotely since day one.
We had been in business for four years when the idea for a four-day workweek came up. I’d heard about companies, particularly in the UK, experimenting with a four-day workweek, and it made a lot of sense to me.
I was cautious that it might not work for a company like us that’s in the client services business — but if there was a chance we could make it work, I wanted to make that happen.
Fitting five days’ worth of work into four days wasn’t a smooth transition, and we didn’t expect it to be
The concept of eight hours a day, five days a week, is so entrenched in society. That’s why we started with a three-month trial period. At the beginning of our pilot, we were honest that it might not stick; fortunately, it did.
Our approach included multiple pulse surveys to see how it was working for every member of the team. The survey asked team members to rate how they were feeling about progress in tasks, projects, and goals; people, interactions, and team dynamics; work-life balance, stress, and general wellness; and learning, development, and feedback. We also included an optional opportunity to share anything else that was on their mind.
The results showed increased employee well-being, productivity, and work relationships.
We conducted pulse surveys every month during the pilot and found that for our employees with young children at home, the four-day workweek has been a game changer.
Other feedback included improved mental health, more time to address personal development outside of work, and looking forward to work more.
A condensed workweek can be more intense
We heard from employees that they loved the four-day workweek and never wanted to go back to the old way. At the same time, they were finding their work days more jam-packed.
When we enacted the shorter workweek, we didn’t mandate extended workdays. But because we have a responsibility to our clients to continue our same level of productivity and condense it into a shorter week, we sometimes need to work longer than a standard 9-to-5 workday.
To help mitigate this, we advise that no meetings are scheduled after 5 p.m. local time, team members block off their calendars for “focus time” to get things done, and they choose their communication method thoughtfully — does this need to be a meeting or could it be a Slack message, email, or Loom video?
Collaborating with other teams that expect to be able to meet on Fridays was an expected hurdle. We knew that communicating and holding boundaries would be a critical aspect of the strategy.
A lot of credit goes to our communication strategy for making these conversations simple and straightforward. Prior to the four-day workweek, we had implemented a “No Meeting Fridays” policy, which was a nice interim step that helped our team develop the habit of protecting their time and communicating that to external partners.
A shorter workweek encourages everyone to work more efficiently
It challenged us to examine our existing communication channels and processes. We audited time spent in meetings, and looked at platforms we could use to streamline communications.
This has provided us with more opportunities to stay heads-down in the work or step away and gain some perspective.
We knew a four-day workweek would only succeed if it benefited our clients, too
We were adamant that we would only move forward if we got 100% client buy-in. We didn’t receive much pushback from clients when we first rolled out the four-day workweek.
I think that they were not only open to the idea, but really embraced it.
They were all on board with the change, as long as we continued to get the work done and meet the deadlines and standards.
The four-day workweek hasn’t had a negative effect on our business revenue
In fact, it’s been quite the opposite: RocketAir had double-digit revenue growth in 2022.
With an extended weekend, people have time to fully recharge before the start of the new week.
The four-day workweek also gives more opportunities for team members to connect with whatever drives them, whether it’s playing chess, visiting museums, taking a field trip, or taking an improv class.
I use the extra time for hobbies — I’m an avid chess player and play 20-30 games daily.
As we’re approaching one year since our pilot kicked off, truly turning off has become second nature.
If you want to try a four-day workweek at your company, here’s my advice:
Don’t jump in feet first without a preliminary test. Run a pilot for at least three months to experiment, learn, and optimize.
Think of your clients. If you’re a services business, a four-day workweek will succeed only if it benefits clients too. Move forward when you have buy-in from all of your existing clients.
Develop a thorough communications strategy. We thought through every possible question that might arise and developed messaging to help guide internal and external conversations. Don’t just announce your four-day workweek to clients out of the blue. Invite them into the conversation so you can take their feedback into account.
You might need to reconsider your billing model. If your company’s compensation is tied to time, a four-day workweek will be less successful.
Don’t cut corners. A shorter workweek that comes with a pay cut or longer days is not a sustainable solution. The work schedule must work for everyone — especially parents and caregivers on your team who may not be able to take on extra hours on a daily basis.
Model ideal behaviors for your team. When leaders and people managers repeatedly use the extra day to catch up on work, it undermines the culture you’re working hard to create. We have intentional conversations with our leadership team about how we’re spending our day off and hold each other accountable to unplugging on Fridays.
If your company has transitioned to or tried out a four-day workweek, email Jenna Gyimesi at [email protected].