Summer Fridays and four-day workweeks aren’t a new idea. Plenty of companies offer these time-off perks, especially as employees shifted to remote work during the pandemic. But one New England-based outdoor tech company found that a better plan is giving employees Mondays off.
“We were all spending an astronomical amount of time in front of screens,” says Mike Melillo, CEO of the Wanderlust Group, parent company to Dockwa and Marinas.com, which are platforms similar to OpenTable where consumers can reserve and book slips at marinas. “Boating was one of the few socially acceptable activities, and by the middle of May we were burnt out.”
Melillo decided to enact his “Game of Thrones” clause. “I always said, if on Sunday night while watching Game of Thrones I was dreading going to work the next way, I should not go to work. Work should be something you’re passionate about.”
Melillo used Sundays to plan for the week ahead, which cut into his weekend downtime. “l was miserable and felt drained, and I knew my employees probably felt the same way,” he says. “Taking Fridays off would be fine—everybody does summer Fridays. But the majority of our employees live in coastal towns, and the best time to get outside and explore and enjoy them is on a Monday when everyone else has gone home.”
The company’s 45 employees who work out of the company’s Massachusetts and Rhode Island offices were given Mondays off as an experiment. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I knew something had to change,” says Melillo.
The company made it clear to managers that it was implementing a four-day workweek, says Melillo. “If someone made a personal choice to work since they were working remotely, they were more than welcome to, but employees and managers could not expect others to be on,” he says. “Monday would be no different than Saturday or Sunday.”
And while the workweek changed, the company’s goals or deliverables did not. Melillo helped employees regain some time by rethinking meetings. He set the expectation that anyone who didn’t have to be on a meeting didn’t have to attend.
Halfway through the summer, the company started to see improved outcomes. “The shift forced everyone to reevaluate their calendar,” says Melillo. “I was surprised how many meetings came off the books when the workweek was constrained to Tuesday through Friday. We were better able to prioritize, and the quality of our meetings and discussions improved.”
Employee morale also improved. “The change gave people an opportunity to enjoy the weekend,” says Melillo. “They were able to spend more time with their families. I was surprised by the thanks I received from employees and spouses.”
After having the company’s three best consecutive months, the change was set permanently. And to date, Wanderlust Group had its strongest six months of growth and productivity, with profits up by 121% year over year.
“Nine to five was created in 1926 by the Ford Motor Company,” says Melillo. “This shift shows our team we trust that they can manage their time more explicitly. It gives them time to invest in themselves, their family or friends.”
The four-day workweek has also been an attractive recruiting tool, adds Melillo. “Giving Mondays off, gives a day when rest of the world is scheduled and on,” he says. “It also fits our mission, which is to help people get outdoors.”
Melillo admits that customers still need to be cared for, and support teams work on alternative four-day workweek shifts so someone is working on a Monday. “We need to be responsive if something happens,” says Melillo. “But the majority of our customers’ customers arrive on Friday, and Mondays tend to be quieter days for them, too.”
While it’s a big change, Melillo recommends that other companies consider a Mondays-off policy, too.
“Anyone who knew me would think it’s shocking for me to try something like this,” he says. “In my days as a professional baseball player, I took no days off. If I can get my head around this, anyone can. I encourage others to try it in small samples. I’m proud our board and team took this risk and ran with it. Monday is now my favorite day of week.”