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Give flexibility to get flexibility

June 22nd, 2022 newsletter

Hi πŸ‘‹πŸ»

I'm here with my second newsletter and a variety of links I saved in the past week, a couple of my most recent book highlights, something that's been on my mind, and a general personal update.

Thanks to everyone who replied via email to the first newsletter! One of the reasons I'm establishing this habit is as a way to connect more and build community again. Does anything within this newsletter resonate or catch your attention? Hit reply and let's chat about it.

And as always, if this isn’t for you, unsubscribe anytime with the link at the bottom of the email.

– Joel


Beacon is switching to a four-day work week. Here's why.
β†’ I'm always on the lookout for companies adopting a 4-day workweek. While Beacon are not remote, much of their approach aligns with Buffer. Especially the focus on ambition, being highly productive, and on optimizing and automating.

Optimism Shapes Reality
β†’ An interesting article suggesting rather persuasively that a focus on optimism can lead to significantly faster timelines and better outcomes, especially if a culture of optimism can be scaled.

Supporting the Modern Family in the Workplace
β†’ I enjoyed this thought-provoking podcast conversation between Simmone Taitt and Katelin Holloway about how Simmone's company Poppy Seed Health thrived while enabling half the team to take family leave last year.

A guide to curation in community
β†’ I'm currently reflecting on community and how to re-ignite our focus on it at Buffer. This article got me thinking about the role curation (of articles, quotes, tips, answers, etc.) plays in community, for the value of everyone involved.


πŸ“š What I highlighted this week

Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits.

From Atomic Habits by James Clear

The challenge we all face is how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization.

From Range by David J. Epstein


🧠 Something that’s been on my mind

I've had a number of different conversations within and outside Buffer about the 4-day workweek, which is something we've been doing for over two years now. The timing has felt right recently to reflect, debate, and ultimately clarify and document what we've found to be the right approach to the 4-day workweek. Here are a few key points:

  • It's important to think about the 4-day workweek in the context of other key elements of your company: values / culture, strategy, operating principles, business model, market, etc. For Buffer, we're a fully distributed, remote company spread across all the main time zones, and this alters how we need to approach a genuinely successful 4-day workweek, compared to a company where everyone is located in the same city.
  • We were early with remote work at Buffer, and one of the fundamental concepts that made it work for us was "you give flexibility to get flexibility". The beauty of remote work, and I would argue the 4-day workweek too, is that it enables the individual to craft a work week that is optimal for themselves, based on their personal situation. You get a ton of flexibility at Buffer, but in order for teams to achieve ambitious results, and this whole thing to work and continue long into the future, we need everyone to be willing to give flexibility, too. This was always the case with a remote team where regular hours overlap may be limited, and is even more true when we add the 4-day workweek into the mix and reduce the overall amount of time we each work.
  • There's a key risk I've started to be aware of with the 4-day workweek for a culture like Buffer with high trust, ambition, flexibility, autonomy, self-motivation and commitment. The risk is that the 4-day workweek brings rigidity and becomes too prescriptive, and actually ends up taking away that act of crafting your own most optimal way of working. Some of this is in the name itself, which brings the concept of time back when we've worked hard to be results and output-focused rather than time and input focused. The other is that the idea of 4 days creates a fear or hesitation to send messages, ship new customer value, or otherwise "work" outside of a specific 4 days. We're starting to surface and talk about some of the really creative ways people lean into flexibility in the way they structure their days and weeks, while achieving great results and outcomes in collaboration with their team.
  • Philosophically, I believe that the high level idea of a 4-day workweek is a significant step forward. I believe that we can all achieve more in less time if we are diligent about how we spend our precious time. I also believe that with the 5-day workweek, the balance of work to leisure to idle time is off and doesn't allow the reflection time needed to be creative and do your best work. Put simply, it can't be that the traditional 5-day workweek is the best way to work. It was established in a very different time. I love that the concept of a 4-day workweek challenges the status quo, and therefore naturally leads to questions about how to implement it and make it genuinely work long-term. We're starting to lean into that opportunity to answer the questions more clearly for our team and those who follow Buffer, to share how we are striving to make it work and keep it going long-term.

πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ A general update from me

Last time I shared that I was heading to LA for some time in person with my exec team. We had a productive and energizing week getting aligned on current strategy, culture shifts, people, structure, and performance. We also shared anecdotes and life stories, increasing our connection and psychological safety. And as someone living in the land-locked state of Colorado, I took every opportunity to eat seafood.

In other news, this is a big week at Buffer as we just launched TikTok scheduling and direct posting. It's available on all plans, including the free plan. TikTok is a huge opportunity for ambitious individuals and small businesses to tap into to grow their audience and build their brand, so I'm really excited that we now have it in the toolkit we offer. If you have a chance to try it out, please hit reply and let me know how you find it.


Have a great rest of the week,

– Joel

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Roughly each week I send out a newsletter with:

  • 🌍 Links I saved that week
  • πŸ“š What I highlighted
  • 🧠 Something that's been on my mind
  • πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ A general update from me

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