The advertising technology company Polar, which makes the popular ad platform Social Display, recently moved to a 4-day week, as part of what CEO Kunal Gupta calls The Someday Experiment. “I started to imagine The Someday Experiment two years ago,” he writes on his blog. “We are now ready for it. The world is now ready for it.”
Each week has seven days in it, and none of them are called “someday”.
Think of the many mental lists that we create, “someday, I will…”. The sad truth is that “someday” may never come for most of us. And if it does for the lucky few, then it may be at a time later in life when our physical, mental and emotional resources are not what they once were.
I have been inspired to experiment with how to make space for “someday”, today….
The Someday Experiment is a move to a four day work week.
Monday to Thursday is our new work week and Friday has been renamed to Someday…. This is not simply a 3 day weekend. It is not an extra day off, but rather the space to be intentional. I am also creating the opportunity for my team to share with each other how they are investing their Somedays, and what they are learning.
We are not reducing compensation and we are not asking for longer hours during the four working days in the week. In fact, we are acknowledging that Someday has in-kind value, in the form of time, that we are giving back to people as part of their recognition, in addition to their current compensation.
Like many other companies, Polar’s shift to a 4-day week was driven in part by the pandemic, and the challenges and opportunities it created for thinking about work and office routines differently. An article in the Toronto Globe and Mail adds some background:
As the pandemic forced his 20 staff into lockdown this past May, Polar chief executive Kunal Gupta recognized that many were struggling with the additional responsibilities and anxieties that came with the sudden transition. Fearing that some might suffer from burnout, he encouraged his team members to take two “wellness days” off from work.
The positive reaction he received inspired Mr. Gupta to launch what he called the “someday” program in June. The initiative allowed staff to drop their work every other Friday and pick up an activity or passion project they had always wanted to pursue, but never had the time.
There were other changes, as the company explains:
We permanently closed our offices in Toronto, New York, London and Sydney at the start of the pandemic and have fully embraced a distributed culture on a long-term basis….
We have a Slack-light culture, and encourage fewer channels, fewer messages and fewer notifications, to have more space to work….
Tuesday is Flowday at Polar, with no meetings, no Slack and no distractions. On other days, 1pm onwards is Flowtime, with no internal meetings and a Slack light culture.
In essence, this is another implementation of Free Fridays, which is something I’ve seen at lots of other companies, particularly tech companies. But christening them “Somedays” is a lovely twist, a light but effective way of guiding people to using them in ways that are more thoughtful and aspirational, rather than in the “JEREMY CORBYN NO SURRENDER FOUR DAY WEEK AND A THREE DAY BENDER” sort of way.