If you are a business owner, or really anyone conditioned to Western culture, you were most likely reading Part 1 of this blog with one glaring question in mind – “How does moving to a 4-day work week not affect the bottom line?”
Answer: Parkinson’s Law
For those who may be unfamiliar with this age-old truth, Parkinson’s law says that work expands to fill the time which is available for completion. This means that,
“The more time people dedicate in advance to a certain task, the longer it will take to complete it, even if it could have been completed in less time.” (Kaufman, 2005).
For example, if someone is given a full week to complete a task that should only take a day, they’ll needlessly stretch it out to take up the full week. Turborilla’s implementation of the 4-Day Week illustrates Parkinson’s Law, having found an increase in productivity during working hours even though there’s less time to output the same level of product.
“We started the day (today) with a game jam,” Bryan says.
Those in Sweden started the day a little earlier than their Pittsburgh counterparts and were divided into 4 teams for the game jam.
Bryan explains, “They had one day to build a game concept, a playable demo, like some marketing assets and everything. They pitched those simple game concepts to a panel of three judges.”
Brian was one of those judges.
“They all presented us literally with playable video games today that they all built in one day. And our game designer Joe asked the question, what would've happened if you guys had had three or four days? What would you have done differently?”
The teams didn’t think that having more days would've affected what they did in their actual game design. Turborilla’s main tech Peter commented that the only difference may have been a “more polished” deliverable.
Bryan points out that when there’s a deadline on the horizon everyone is in “get-it-done” mode and things that would open the floor for differences in opinion, discussion, and ultimately a delayed decision before moving onto the next step in the project creation, get thrown away because of the time crunch.
“You can't second guess yourself when you don't have as much time,” Bryan said.
“They had to come together, they had to decide, they couldn't argue. They had to put differences aside and have some faith. Everybody had to be a little bit more open and take the thing that your gut first told you was the right thing to do and do it. That’s what they had to do in a game jam. And that's to some extent what wehave to do in the four-day workweek.”
This same thought process tends to extend into all aspects of work.
How many minutes of work were actually productive minutes?
How many of those minutes were spent going back and forth deciding which way would be the BEST way?
How many minutes were spent refining ideas that ultimately weren’t part of the deliverable?
Bryan says that when you are on a team where people take a higher level of ownership for their work and their decisions, and there’s a level of trust already in place, everyone will do their own due diligence, and it actually saves time. It removes a lot of the extraneous back-and-forth time and energy that it takes to actually make a decision.
“Something elevating to the status of a problem has changed. I don’t have time for everything anymore,” Stealey states.
“For me to stop whatever my flow is, or whatever it is I'm trying to complete, to focus on something that's come up, interrupts me. Maybe makes it to where I get behind to the point where I can't catch up in that week. That doesn't mean that I don't take those interruptions. I have to …I have no choice about that. But I'm way more like, does this definitely need my time? If not, figure it out.”
When individual employees take more responsibility and ownership, there are fewer things that become problematic and employees feel a greater sense of value, confidence, and fulfillment.
“And that's a pro … because then people are growing themselves by being able to take more responsibility and accountability,” says Bryan. “It’s good for them. It’s good for their families. And it’s good for us as a company.”