Treehouse--an online service for teaching web design, coding, and more--has flaunted a four-day workweek since launching in 2010. Treehouse does so with no strings attached. Workweeks range from Monday through Thursday, and each day is comprised of the typical eight hours. According to CEO and co-founder Ryan Carson, Treehouse has never done business on a Friday.
Recruiting and Recharging
Carson tells Inc. that the system has multiple benefits.
First, it lends a major recruiting edge. Treehouse currently employs about 75 people, and he says many of them chose Treehouse over offers from major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter. While Carson says he likes to think Treehouse's educational mission inspires them to jump on board, he knows the benefit of three-day weekends is attractive on its own right. New employees, he says, are usually suspect of the policy at first, softening once they escape their first Friday without seeing any emails nagging them to get something done from home.
Carson says the three-day weekends also help employees come into work all the more eager on Monday morning. Having recharged for three days rather than two helps, he says, but even more effective is the threat of the week ending so soon. Thursday (the last day of the Treehouse work week) "comes fast," Carson says, so employees tend to work all the harder to make sure they meet their weekly goals inside that limited timeframe.
Third, Carson says, it means everybody gets more time with their families or other outside interests, including himself. Carson doesn't feel any shame in making that an organizational priority. He has select words for the modern entrepreneur myth of 16-hour-a-day, seven-day workweeks. "I think it's bullshit," he says. "A lot of entrepreneurs want to work because it makes them feel important. But they don't have to work (around the clock)." Carson says his business is on his mind almost all the time, but he doesn't feel like he or his team should need to always be working.
The policy puts an even greater onus on hiring. Carson sees the three-day weekends as a strand in the same organizational DNA as Treehouses flat, manager-less structure. Between a 32-hour workweek and a lack of direct supervision, his employees need to be self-starters. "If you’re lazy there’s no way you’ll survive at TreeHouse," Carson says.
Carson thinks the company's success thus far is validation of the idea. Aside from the 75 employee count, Treehouse has tallied 70,000 users and secured $13 million in funding. Investors have never batted an eye at the weekend policy, Carson says.
"They don't care how you do it," he says. "They just want it to happen."