Manufacturer Tries 4-Day Work Week in 5 Days and Doesn't Go Back

When Bill Kovalchik first heard that his company, Advanced RV, was trying out a four-day workweek, he was bombarded with questions.

"We were all a little nervous — like, can we get our work done? Can we handle it? Is this going to hurt us?" says Kovalchik, an experienced craftsman working in the finishing department.

A year and a half later, he has answers.

Not only did his team find quick ways to save time, but they also became more satisfied with their work.

"Man, it was great," he says. "I've never had a job where I said that before, but at the end of a three-day weekend, I'm ready to come back on Monday morning."

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The experiment has spread globally, but only a few manufacturers have participated in it. Advanced RV, a company that builds luxury motorhomes based on Mercedes-Benz cargo vans in Willoughby, Ohio, is one of more than 200 companies and just a few manufacturers participating in the ongoing global study conducted by the organization 4 Day Week Global.

Advanced RV requires two years to build custom motorhomes for customers. Amber N. Ford for NPR

An Advanced RV employee works on a custom motorhome, which will eventually become a mobile library. Amber N. Ford for NPR Over six months, businesses agree to reduce working hours while maintaining the same pay. The goal is not to do less with fewer expenses but to sustain 100% productivity, bring more energy and efficiency to the workplace, and reduce fatigue and burnout.

Success stories from the trial have given a weary workforce hope that a better work-life balance is achievable. Of the 41 American and Canadian companies that began the trial in 2022, none have reported reverting to a 40-hour workweek.

Less Is More: How a 4-Day Work Week Can Make You and Your Company More Productive TED RADIO HOUR Less Is More: How a 4-Day Work Week Can Make You and Your Company More Productive A closer look at how Advanced RV managed to significantly reduce working hours while maintaining productivity reveals some key elements: a tolerance for risk, as well as trust, creativity, and impartiality.

"The most important thing I could do as a business owner" CEO Mike Neundorfer says he first heard about the four-day workweek about two years ago.

In 2021, Iceland reported that two studies involving 2,500 workers, mostly government employees, showed that working fewer hours for the same pay led to improved well-being without a loss in productivity. In some cases, workers reported becoming even more productive after a reduction in working hours.

Iceland Shortened The Workweek And Found More Happiness And No Productivity Loss BUSINESS Iceland Shortened The Workweek And Found More Happiness And No Productivity Loss This idea resonated deeply with Neundorfer.

"Think about it. What greater impact can a person have on the people who work for them than to give them 50 holidays a year and three-day weekends every weekend?" he says. "It seemed like the most important thing I could do as a business owner and manager."

CEO Mike Neundorfer of Advanced RV says he first heard about the four-day workweek two years ago and was intrigued. His company joined the global four-day week trial in early 2022 and has not returned to a five-day week since. Amber N. Ford for NPR Neundorfer, who founded Advanced RV in 2012 after leading other successful ventures, never intended for the company to operate 24/7 without weekends. His employees work no more than 40 hours a week, even though it meant customers waited two years for their custom motorhomes.

"Maybe we could make more money and figure it out if we worked overtime, but we never do that," he says.

Instead, in April 2022, he decided to try the opposite, transitioning everyone to a 32-hour workweek without any reduction in pay.