Exploring a Four-Day Workweek

A monthly calendar on a blue background with a pin stuck in the days Monday-Friday. In the corner of the calendar is a clock.


During the summer of 2020, I hit a burnout-related wall—and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

Time was elusive; my schedule felt out of my control. I was afraid that if I took a vacation—the standard cure for burnout—it would pass by without benefit, especially because I couldn’t safely travel. I decided instead to extend my weekends and take Mondays off for the summer, making my periods of rest more frequent.

It felt like magic. Despite having an entire extra day off, I didn’t fall behind on work. I was so much happier and more motivated to be working when I logged in, and—unless someone was holding back—my team didn’t miss me on the days I was gone. So, I did it again the next three summers. At some point, I thought: “Why can’t we all do this?” Thus, the seed for Minerva’s four-day work week experiment was planted.

Fast forward several years. Numerous studies have been conducted to better understand the impact of a four-day workweek. Most companies that participated in the studies continued with the new schedule, experiencing improved employee well-being, better retention, more competitive recruiting, and happy clients and customers.

The photo shows a desk with a keyboard, pen, and other office paraphernalia. On the desk is a mind map of the 4-day workweek and many of the benefits listed around, just as improved work/life balance.

At Minerva Strategies, our goal for testing out a four-day workweek is more than the obvious business benefits listed above. These things are wonderful, but more importantly, we believe in fostering a workplace environment that reflects the Minerva Principles, including working with joy, confidence, and inclusivity. While we put a lot into our work, we also understand that—despite the pervasive beliefs born out of capitalism—we are more than what we can produce.  

A four-day workweek is an important innovation we’re testing. This change clearly states—to the sectors in which we work, our colleagues, and ourselves—that we value the whole person and understand that while work is an important part of our lives, it is not everything. Work shouldn’t sap our pleasure and decrease our overall wellness.

As our clients already know, we launched our four-day workweek pilot at the beginning of this year. We spent the last six months of 2023 planning our strategy, including figuring out how we want the pilot to be structured, getting clear on why we are making this change, and aligning our choices to our principles.

It’s also important that systemic changes like this must be fully supported by leadership to be successful. Minerva’s Founding Partner and President Joy Portella and I were initial backers for this idea, and we worked closely with our team to iron out the details.

If you’re curious about the details: our entire team is off on Fridays. We are seeing how we can streamline our work, set modified timelines, and boost productivity during the time we are working—maxing out at around 32 hours per week. While it may seem counterintuitive, in many of the studies, employees were able to meet, and in some cases exceed five-day productivity simply because they had more rest. I can attest to this from my experience during the summer months.

When we asked how our team members thought they’d use their time, they said they could work on their personal writing instead of only writing for work, get into nature for longer periods of time, commit to slowness and not having an agenda, spend more time with their children, and simply rest. I am confident these activities will help my colleagues unwind and bring their best efforts to work.

It’s too early to tell whether we’ll keep a four-day schedule or go back to working five days per week. This will depend on several things, from understanding whether this change improved team members’ quality of life to client satisfaction to our bottom line. But I’m already proud of my team for being willing to give it a shot.

We are under no illusions; it is a risk. “Time is money” is the dominant belief in the consulting world. It is always difficult to push against dominant, ingrained belief systems. But Minerva is a warrior goddess—we can do hard things.

No one—at least no one I want to be—looks back on their lives from their death bed and says, “I really wish I’d more consistently worked myself to burnout.” We’re determined, whether through a four-day workweek or similar workplace innovations, to ensure we’re doing everything we can to enjoy being alive and living out what we believe in. Yes, it’s a privilege, but it’s one we all deserve.

If you have questions about our four-day workweek plan, hit me up! If you’re curious how things turn out, keep an eye on this blog and sign up for our quarterly newsletters. We’ll be sharing the results of the pilot in both places.

About The Author

Sara Veltkamp

Sara Veltkamp

Vice President

Sara lives in New Orleans, Louisiana and is Minerva's vice president. She takes a lead role in all aspects of Minerva Strategies’ smart communication strategies and implementation. She loves a challenge and is obsessed with learning new things, from how to use new platforms and tools for storytelling to languages like Amharic, French, or Farsi to mastering a difficult yoga pose. She applies this energy and curiosity to all clients’ communication challenges. Learn more about Sara.