Minerva Moves Forward With a Four-Day Workweek

A person sits with a Minerva notebook in their lap. The notebook has Minerva's ten-year logo on it.

Principles: ,

We’ve permanently rolled out a four-day workweek at Minerva Strategies! As described in a previous blog post, we dedicated the first half of the year to a pilot phase where we explored a four-day week and our strategies for testing it with our team, assessing the impact on our clients, and thinking through whether this work model would be possible for Minerva. Our reasons for testing a four-day workweek mapped back to our principles, and now, we feel confident that this is the best way forward for our work and team.

We learned a lot during the pilot—from our clients, each other, and ourselves. Below, we highlight two themes and give some tips if you’re considering rolling out a four-day workweek at your organization.

Smarter time management

All team members noted the need to be more strategic and structured with their time. One colleague said that piloting a four-day workweek sharpened their focus: “We work with amazing clients who have been supportive of our four-day workweek journey, but the reality is there are fewer days to keep the ball rolling. Prioritizing has allowed me to streamline my efforts and maximize productivity within a condensed timeframe.”

Sharing a similar sentiment, another colleague adds, “As a result of improved prioritization, my tasks feel more spread out, and I operate with less false urgency—it’s clearer to me which tasks can wait, and which need attention sooner.”

If you’re curious about which tools and strategies the team used to improve time management, each person has a unique style. Since 2019, we have used Asana for task management and Microsoft Teams for team communication. Most colleagues optimized their use of our existing tools as part of the pilot, using them to rely less on their memory and get an accurate picture of what needs to be accomplished each day.

In addition, some colleagues swear by handwritten task lists, planning their days in advance and blocking time on their calendars to accomplish their top priorities, “time-chunking,” and sometimes bowing out of meetings where their presence is not essential.

An old fashioned alarm clock sits on a window ledge. Outside the window shows a sunny day in soft focus.
Photo by Indra Projects on Unsplash

Importance of principles

Our organizational principles are strong—they model how we work and why. These principles helped us align on why we wanted to pilot a four-day workweek. This alignment was critical to our success, as we moved forward with buy-in from leadership and the entire team.

Minerva’s principles also helped to guide our decisions during the pilot. Our agreement to address challenges early without assigning fault or blame aligns with our principle of communicating with kindness and inclusion. This agreement ensures we are solution-oriented as we spend less time navigating challenges that often start small but can potentially escalate into more extensive roadblocks.

Moving with real-life ambition—another Minerva Principle—includes flexibility. When we began the pilot, we had a “rule” that team members could only work on Fridays if they absolutely had to. We quickly learned this wasn’t aligned with our team’s needs and pivoted to flex Fridays, or seeing Fridays as days team members can use as they want to and in ways that align with their lives and schedules.

As someone who loves packed workdays coupled with more free-flowing and unscheduled weekends, I rarely work Fridays. I make it a little game for myself to figure out ways to do what needs to be done with the Monday-Thursday schedule. Other colleagues find a different way of organizing their time more satisfying. As one colleague describes, “I enjoy doing a little bit of work on Fridays, without the expectation that I need to. I’ve shifted certain activities to that day that don’t involve clients or other team members. And sometimes I don’t do any work on Fridays. I appreciate that flexibility.”

We’re all different and have different demands on our lives. It’s unrealistic to assume that one weekly structure could work for everyone. The four-day workweek with flex Fridays has given our team the flexibility to be ambitious, but in a realistic and practical way.

Interested in piloting a four-day workweek?

Our team has some helpful tips for making this a reality in your life, team, or organization.

The first step in running a four-day workweek is to shift the “time scarcity mindset.” Less time does not mean less or lower-quality work. People work best when they have space to live their lives. This means that giving people the freedom to value things outside of work and organize their work lives to attend to those things improves their work, too.

I know it probably sounds too simple, but people who are allowed to be whole people at work—with passions, interests, needs, and full lives outside of work—bring more to their work life. This ability cannot be demanded; it must be enabled in the form of time and flexibility. If your pilot starts with believing that people can accomplish as much or more in four days as in five, then you’re already halfway there.

Secondly, understand that this is a big change— for those inside and outside your organization. Most of us are conditioned to work five days a week. Your team and those you service will need time to adjust. We recommend dedicating at least six months to the pilot, and larger organizations should plan for a year- or multi-year pilot period. One Minerva colleague recommends being willing to allow your team to adjust to the new schedule gradually.  “Some team members may not immediately adapt for various reasons. It’s important to recognize and accommodate these individual differences as everyone finds a new rhythm.”

Finally, if you’re thinking about a four-day week, give it a try. As with testing anything new, be prepared for challenges, but don’t overthink the what-ifs. Running a pilot is the only way to learn whether it works for you and your organization. Spend your mental energy designing a good pilot, and then start testing it out as quickly as possible.

About The Author

Sara Veltkamp

Sara Veltkamp

Vice President

Sara lives in Chicago, Illinois 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.