Sep 8, 2021 - Technology

A developer's four-day workweek

"Bugsnax."
"Bugsnax." Image: Young Horses

Bugsnax developer Young Horses is permanently altering its workweeks to only four days in an effort to create a healthier work-life balance at its studio.

Why it matters: The video game industry is known for intense crunch, but moving away from even 40-hour workweeks is proof that model doesn't need to be the norm.

  • The team of eight switched to four-day workweeks in July as part of a unanimously decided trial run, Young Horses co-founder and president Phil Tibitoski told Axios.
  • The team's production schedule was already set to an expected 35 hours per week for each full-time person; transitioning to 32 hours only meant a three-hour loss. "Might as well give people the peace of mind that they can relax doing their own thing on their own time than have someone feel guilty for doing it at work."
  • "We know what we have to get done and by when, or we're making our own schedule entirely and things get done when they get done."

Yes but: That transition is easier due to the team's size.

  • "It was easier for us to implement because to measure our small team's output is simple relative to those bigger studios, so our trial period and decision-making is faster than a studio who has to get buy-in from so many departments and investors."
  • A studio goal has always been to foster "a healthy, creatively fulfilling business that supports our lifestyles,'" Tibitoski said. "Those lifestyles being ones where growth of the studio is not very important and sustainability of the happiness of the people who work here is much more our focus."

Tibitoski told Axios that he believes a four-day workweek is possible at larger studios — "but you have to have buy-in from the top and their goals/processes/expectations have to be adapted to support the change."

  • There are "people who will always want more, who are never satisfied with what they have, and who will sacrifice the well-being of their employees to get there."

The bottom line: "If we're all happier to be at work because we're well-rested, I think we're going to be better off in the long run."

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