Each week has seven days in it, and none of them are called “someday”.
Think of the many mental lists that we create, “someday, I will…”. The sad truth is that “someday” may never come for most of us. And if it does for the lucky few, then it may be at a time later in life when our physical, mental and emotional resources are not what they once were.
[Listen to me read this reflection here if you prefer audio]
I have been inspired to experiment with how to make space for “someday”, today.
Earlier this year, I asked my team at Polar to take every other Friday off. While I called them “Wellness Days”, it was really the start of an experiment to see what would happen to our business, to our clients and to our team productivity if we worked less, not more. The results were inspiring enough for me to launch what I now call The Someday Experiment.
The Someday Experiment is a move to a four day work week.
Monday to Thursday is our new work week and Friday has been renamed to Someday.
Our team can choose to invest their Somedays however they wish.
I am encouraging everyone to be intentional with their time and to focus on connecting with what it is that they feel passionate about.
For some, it will be spent running errands, building something in their home or investing more time with their kids. For others, it will be learning new skills, diving into a hobby or investing in a side project. And for others, it may be volunteering, mentoring or caring for those in greater need. In my case, it’s writing a book (or two).
This is not simply a 3 day weekend. It is not an extra day off, but rather the space to be intentional. I am also creating the opportunity for my team to share with each other how they are investing their Somedays, and what they are learning.
We are not reducing compensation and we are not asking for longer hours during the four working days in the week. In fact, we are acknowledging that Someday has in-kind value, in the form of time, that we are giving back to people as part of their recognition, in addition to their current compensation.
Polar is a business I founded over a decade ago. We are profitable, growing quickly and have hundreds of clients in dozens of countries. I am not sure if I would have had the conviction or confidence to attempt this experiment earlier in my entrepreneurial journey. I hope that other leaders and entrepreneurs can take some inspiration from my experiment.
There are several assumptions that I have going into The Someday Experiment.
1) Trust: that my team feels the trust that I place in them so much that they are inspired to take even greater ownership and responsibility for our business, and the commitments that we make to our clients and to one another.
2) Productivity: there is a tendency for work to fill time. Productivity is not how much we work but what we work on and how we do it. Constraints help create the conditions for more focus and I believe that working less days will lead to greater effectiveness and efficiency.
3) Mental Health: with more space to connect with what it is we care most about, I believe that the lingering anxiety, mental stress and distractions that we feel may feel will reduce. We will feel even more refreshed and energized to tackle the growth opportunities for our business.
This experiment is more involved than simply reducing the work week from five days to four days.
There is a rewiring of how we work that is happening, which started earlier this year in March when the pandemic hit. The Someday Experiment encourages management to be better with prioritization, to ensure that we are investing in the most important clients, projects and products. It encourages everyone to spot inefficiencies sooner rather than later. Overall, it encourages us to be a stronger business.
If there was ever a time to run an experiment like this, it is now.
The world is going through a collective reset, what I refer to as “Year Zero”. This is a time to make different choices, choices that have the possibility to positively shape our future.
I started to imagine The Someday Experiment two years ago. We are now ready for it. The world is now ready for it. Recent research by Angus-Reid showed that the majority of Canadians support a four day work week. We will continue to see more companies adopt similar approaches in the years to come.
The Globe and Mail wrote about our experiment a few days ago, here is a copy of the story.
Henry Ford is credited with popularizing the 5 day work week in the 1920s. The norm used to be a 6 day work week. 100 years later, I believe we can collectively move towards a 4 day work week for better productivity, balance and satisfaction in life.