Why the CEO of Basecamp Only Allows His Employees to Work 32 Hours a Week

There’s a CEO in the U.S. who has already adopted a shorter workweek for his employees—Jason Fried, the Chicago-based CEO of Basecamp.

Work Sucks Spencer Borisoff

During the months of May through September, Fried enforces a strict 32-hour workweek where employees work only four days a week. He prides himself on ensuring that his employees have well-balanced lives that don’t involve working around the clock.

“People are always surprised by that,” said Fried, “and I tell them you can get plenty of stuff done in 32 and 40 hours if you cut out all the stuff that’s taking up your time.”

Unlike many companies that rely heavily on standard meetings for team communication, Fried says there are no mandatory meetings on the schedule for Basecamp employees. The few meetings that do occur are limited to a small setting with few people involved.

“I can probably count on one hand how many times we’ve had a meeting with more than four people,” said Fried. “Less people helps a meeting to move a lot faster.”

With limited meetings and a shorter workweek, Chase Clemons (Basecamp’s customer support team lead) says the changes have actually helped him to do his best work.

“Thirty-two hours forces us to prioritize what we work on,” said Clemons. “It’s not about working faster, but rather working smarter.”

Fried believes shorter workweeks are key to a healthy company culture.

“If you’re overworked and tired you make mistakes, and mistakes are costly,” said Fried. “If [companies] want people to be sharp and make fewer mistakes you can’t work them 60-70 hours a week.”

I talk about issues like this in my book “Work Sucks!: A Funny View of a Serious Problem,” which you can find on Amazon by clicking here.

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