SF Startup Buffer Is Testing a 4-Day Workweek for the Next Month

Teams of employees at the social media engagement company will coordinate with each other to decide which day of the week they all want to take off.

Written by Gordon Gottsegen
Published on May. 04, 2020
SF Startup Buffer Is Testing a 4-Day Workweek for the Next Month
Image: Shutterstock

As we enter a new month of quarantine, stress and the feeling of burnout is building up for many workers. Some try to tough it out and act like business as usual, while others are adjusting their work-life balance strategies.

Social media engagement startup Buffer surveyed its employees during its April all-hands meeting to get a sense of how everyone was feeling. It asked questions like “What is your biggest barrier to self or family care at the moment?” and “What would be most helpful from Buffer?”

After reading through the results, the leadership team came to the conclusion that it would institute a four-day workweek for the entire 89-person company for the month of May — all while paying employees their full salaries.

“We’re in a period of time where there’s a layer of added anxiety and stress in all of our lives,” Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne wrote in a blog post. “At Buffer, we’ve been encouraging taking time off, and relaxing productivity expectations, in addition to shifting internal deadlines, but we decided it’s time for us to put some real team-wide changes in place to back up these adjustments.”

Gascoigne writes that he doesn’t expect employees to be as productive or more productive than they would with a five-day workweek. Instead, this is about helping employees take care of their mental health, and allowing them more time in the week to do things like shop for groceries or take care of children.

Every team in the company — engineering, product, etc. — will coordinate which day of the week to take off and then do so together, that way team members are all on the same page. The day of the week they choose will stay the off-day for the rest of the month, so if a team chooses Mondays, they’ll have every Monday off in May.

The four-day workweek is a company experiment, and while it is meant to last a month, Buffer plans to see if employees like the change and want to continue it for longer.

Perhaps we’ll see other startups adopt four-day workweeks for their employees. Operating a fully remote workforce during a global pandemic means adjusting to a new normal, so it might make sense for companies to make changes like this to adapt.

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