British lawyer Emma Haywood has an essay about “The 4 day mindset: Why a 4 day week is more than just an alternative working schedule” that is really worth reading.
When I first transitioned to 4 days, I wasn’t prepared for the change of perspective that was simmering away beneath the practical and logistical arrangements. I was busy writing my flexible working business case, adjusting my childcare plans and completing HR forms. I didn’t realise that I was also building a completely new frame of reference from the moment I first asked myself whether there might be an alternative to a 5 day week.
Haywood talks about crafting her own 4-day week, not moving an entire organization to a shorter workweek. But a lot of what she talks about applies for both individuals working in a conventional company, and organizations making the move.
This bit in particular was something I haven’t run across before, and it struck me as counterintuitive but very smart:
Make yourself dispensable (yes, you read that correctly). Traditional thinking says that career success comes from making yourself indispensable: your importance is measured by how well – or how badly – people manage without you. Over the years, I’ve discovered that one of my superpowers is in fact the opposite: making myself dispensable on my non-working day. I’ve developed a knack for horizon scanning, planning ahead and setting up processes to ensure that things continue ticking over while I’m not there. This is not just about being organised, systems-minded and getting the right tools in place. It’s also a serious ego check. It can be counterintuitive if you prefer to follow standard career advice, but the cornerstone of a successful 4 day week is enabling the work to roll on smoothly and sustainably in your absence.