Blog Post

Reflections on the 32-hour Work Week at Codecov

How to Successfully Apply the 32-hour Work Week at Your own Workplace

September 27, 2022 Eli Hooten

Note, the term “32-hour work” week and “4-day work week” are used interchangeably throughout this article. This is written from the perspective of an executive member of a fully remote, globally distributed SaaS startup in the developer tools industry, and some observations may not be directly applicable to other work environments. We encourage everyone to consider adopting the 32-hour work week, but understand that your mileage may vary.


Over the past few weeks, the 32-hour work week appears to be creeping more and more into the general discourse around work, worker benefits, and company culture. Recently, a large UK study found no productivity losses for the 32-hour work week, and 8 in 10 companies participating in the UK’s four-day work week trial do not want it to stop. Furthermore, a survey by Adaptivist of over 3000 workers in the US, UK, and Australia found that 6 in 10 workers want a 32-hour work week. Additionally, some legislation regarding the 32-hour work week is pending, such as California’s AB-2932 and the United States House of Representatives’ bill H.R.4728. I’m writing this article to help provide more data points and personal experiences into that discourse.


Around 9 months ago, Codecov formally adopted the 32-hour work week as a permanent fixture of our company culture. We chose to do so after a multi-month pilot program that was incredibly successful. Given the growing discourse around the 32-hour work week and Codecov’s adoption of it, I felt it is important to discuss Codecov’s approach to the 32-hour work week and how it has served us over these nine months. Additionally, I want to use this opportunity to provide recommendations on how to successfully apply the 32-hour work week at your own workplace, should you decide to give it a try. Finally, I want to dedicate some time to focus on the benefits of the 32-hour work week to the business as a whole, not just the individuals who work there. 


How Codecov Uses the 32-Hour Work Week

Codecov applies the 32-hour work week as follows:

  1. All employees, regardless of role, work 32 hours. With Friday being the default “off day” across the company. 
  2. For teams that require 5 days a week in order to hit their goals, such as support, team members rotate with 50% being off on Friday and 50% being off on Monday. 
  3. If a team member is on a performance improvement plan, they may be required to work 40 hours a week instead of 32 for the duration of the performance improvement plan. 
  4. The shortened work week will be withdrawn if the company fails to meet company-wide objectives for three consecutive quarters. 
  5. The benefit will not be conditionally withdrawn from certain teams. It’s all or nothing. 
  6. Team members can engage with the off day however they want. They can catch up on work, explore things they’re naturally curious about, take the time solely to themselves, or pursue anything they find particularly meaningful or interesting. It’s their time, just like the weekend.
  7. The only exception to the 32-hour week is the “customer external” meeting, such as support calls with users. If customers require a Friday call, we will take it. In practice, this doesn’t happen often.

In order to make sure the company is still aligning well with goals at the individual, team, and company levels, we assess and develop our goals quarterly in the form of OKRs. We also conduct performance reviews quarterly and conduct quarterly engagement surveys with all members of the team. Note that we had these practices in place long before we adopted the 4-day work week.

We acknowledge that this level of review and surveying may sound like a lot of “organizational overhead”, but for us, the tradeoffs have been worth it. Teams are well connected to their goals, the company is well connected to the individual and aggregate well-being of our team members, and course correction nearly always comes in the form of a gentle nudge as opposed to a hard shove. In short, you improve what you measure, and quarterly measurement has led to improvement across all facets of the business, our application of the 32-hour work week included. 


Impacts of the 32-Hour Work Week

I think it is very easy to consider the 32-hour work week solely as a worker benefit. While this is a huge first-order effect (i.e., the company offers this benefit, and workers are immediately and hugely impacted), the second-order effects on the business are actually much more meaningful in the long term. 

First Order Effects: Benefits to the Team

I could write a novel about the impact of the 4-day work week on our individual team members, but since we survey regularly, it’s likely more impactful to let the feedback speak for itself. Here are some sample responses from our most recent quarterly engagement survey on the shortened work week:

The 32-hour workweek has been really nice. I tend to view Fridays more as flex time, which allows for heads-down time to get projects done without meetings and other administrative tasks blocking normal working hours”

“I’m really enjoying it. The work-life balance gains are wonderful.”

“Yes, 4-day work weeks is a new baseline for what I’m looking for in future roles.”

“I love it, it contributes to a dramatic work-life balance improvement and I don’t feel like I accomplish any less than I did”

“It’s an amazing way to set us apart in the hiring department.”

“I love it, I feel like I’m able to recover from the work week and still enjoy personal time.” 


In the aggregate, benefits are also realized, as evidenced by the following:

  • 56% of employees reported a perceived improvement in their personal productivity. 
  • 24% reported equal personal productivity levels to the 40-hour work week.
  • These results also generally hold up at the team and organizational levels. 
  • Company-wide Northstar metrics, such as revenue, total users, etc. have also improved at the same or greater rates than when the team used the 40-hour work week.

Nine months later, I can say with confidence that – at a minimum – our company’s progress and productivity haven’t been impacted. I personally believe that our productivity and progress have improved. Regardless, I no longer believe that productivity and progress are directly correlated to hours worked.

When instituted, monitored, and nurtured correctly, I am resolved in my belief that the 32-hour work week can be incredibly advantageous to team members at all levels of the company. During the 32 hours per week that members of the Codecov team are at work, we are generally more productive, connected, and engaged with the work that we’re doing. 

Second Order Effects: Benefits to the Business

It’s fairly straightforward to arrive at the conclusion that working less is generally advantageous to employees. But can a 32-hour work week actually help the business? And if so, how? 

In my opinion, if there is one point that the general discourse around the 32-hour work week is missing, it’s not thoroughly exploring how businesses can benefit from leaving the 40-hour work week behind. I consider these benefits second-order effects to the shorter work week; those that come as a result of the team working less. There are three major points of benefit that Codecov the business has experienced since moving to a 4 day work week:

  • Ruthless, methodical prioritization of company, team, and personal goals. 
  • Adopting a culture of rigorous measurement against our stated goals, so that we can quickly course correct when needed.
  • Recruiting, and possibly retention get easier.

This quote from our most recent engagement survey perfectly encapsulates the prioritization point:

“It’s [the 32-hour work week] made me focus on what’s important for the work on a weekly OKRs/sprint basis. (Not spending time on things that don’t matter.)”


Simply put, less time working means less time to get things done. Therefore, it becomes much more important to prioritize against your goals and to re-prioritize early and often. While it wasn’t intentional, placing a “failure condition” on the 32-hour work week (i.e., three consecutive quarters of not meeting company goals), created a prioritization feedback loop that has kept the company much more focused and productive in the areas that matter.

Team members love the shorter work week, and don’t want to lose it, therefore there is constant discussion around company priorities and goals to make sure those goals are consistently being met. At 32 hours we arguably accomplish less work, but we accomplish more of the work that actually matters to the business

Codecov always had a fairly strong measurement culture, and the shorter work week has just amplified that. With less time at work, it becomes even more important to course correct as quickly as possible if we find ourselves moving in the wrong direction. Therefore the 32-hour work week caused us to invest more in our dashboarding, measurement, and reporting processes. This helps to ensure that we’re measuring the right things and altering our approach to measurement quickly if metrics or observations don’t appear to make sense. Our own understanding of our progress must be unassailable no matter how many hours per week we work, but the change to the 4 day work week has provided even more pressure to ensure our metrics are always correct and meaningful.

Since officially announcing the 32-hour work week, I’ve yet to interview a single candidate who didn’t bring it up as a reason for applying, or for responding to a cold email from our recruiter. Even candidates who report being fairly content in their current jobs will at least take an initial screen call with us to try and understand the 4-day work week more deeply and determine what it may mean for them.

While a shorter work week is not a guarantee that you’ll end up recruiting excellent people to your team, it is a benefit that can lead to early conversations with great candidates that you may not have been able to have otherwise.

Finally, I believe retention is benefitted as well, but I don’t believe a 9-month window is enough time to determine this definitively. Anecdotally team members have discussed their overall enjoyment working at Codecov, and their complete disinterest in looking for opportunities elsewhere. Like recruiting, the 32-hour work week alone will likely not lead to this outcome, but in otherwise healthy work culture, the short work week may be incredibly impactful to retention. 


How to Adopt a 32-Hour Work Week

To be clear, adopting the 32-hour work week is an organizational challenge. It cannot be approached as a half measure, as it will have impacts across the entire organization. While potentially being a foundational part of how your team members interact with work, the 32-hour work week cannot be foundational to a workplace. It must be built on top of what is already a fairly strong and healthy work culture.

Said differently, a 4-day work week will not fix an organization that has difficulty with:

  • Prioritization and planning
  • Measurement against goals
  • balancing work culture against company progress. 

These are the foundational elements that must be in place for the 4-day work week to be effective, and if they are not I recommend teams start with those first. If an organization has the above aspects of its operation in order, then I believe the 32-hour work week can be a boon to both the workers and the company itself.

Here are some approaches we took that may also be helpful to others adopting the 32-hour work week:

  1. Have a failure condition. As stated previously, a failure condition can be incredibly orienting for team members. Also be sure that it’s clear, objective, and – unless there is team buy-in to change it – consistent from quarter to quarter. 
  2. Do not impact your users. We decided early on to keep external meetings with customers if they occurred on a Friday. Generally speaking, we strive to ensure that our user’s experience is not degraded in any way simply because we work less than 40 hours. Unless our users are encountering our blog or social media, many likely have no idea that we do not work 40 hours per week. 
  3. Do your homework. There is an ever-increasing amount of writing on the 32-hour work week, I encourage anyone considering this move to research the idea deeply. Before enacting a short work week at Codecov I personally compiled a deep body of research on the issue to try and understand the impacts of the decision. It was enormously helpful in setting my own expectations and the expectations of the rest of the team. There is no excuse not to be well-researched before trying this at your own company.
  4. Start with a trial. Codecov chose a 6 month trial period before we decided whether or not to adopt the 32-hour work week formally. We evaluated team members, and our own goals and progress, at the beginning of the trial, the midpoint, and the end. Having data at these three data points was crucial in helping us decide if it was right for us. Even with a trial, be sure to clearly articulate to the team a failure condition, as well as the length of the trial, and early expectations.
  5. Bake it into your culture. Celebrate the time off! For Codecov we created a Slack channel called #friyay-monyay and team members share some of the things they’re doing with the Fridays or Mondays off. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see this channel populated with examples of team members just…living their lives…as opposed to being at work. 


I hope this article provides some understanding of what a 32-hour week can look like at a modern SaaS company. Most importantly, I hope that readers understand that the 4-day work week is not just a worker benefit and, when implemented correctly, can have profound positive effects on how the business itself functions. I feel these second-order effects are usually not explored thoroughly in much of the popular writing about the 32-hour work week and they are, in my opinion, at least as important as the first-order effects on the team. 

I encourage company leaders to not just think about the 32-hour work week as a benefit they are deciding to bestow upon their workforce. It is so much more than that, and leaders who dismiss it or view it as a detriment to their company out of hand may potentially be doing a large disservice to their organizational efficiency and productivity. Approach what a shorter work week could mean at your company with curiosity and an earnest desire to do what is best for the business as a whole, and the outcomes may surprise you.

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