How have CockroachDB built a successful company on a 4-day work week?

Even before we’d found office space, or incorporated, we drew up a list of steps we’d take to build a lasting cultural foundation — something we hoped would make CockroachDB a great place to work and, by extension, increase its chances of success - Spencer Kimball, Co-Founder

When founders Benjamin, Spencer and Peter got together to start CockroachDB , they wanted the work culture to be an integral part of the company's foundation. Their culture is really defined by how they treat and support their employees. It's built on respect and it's clear to see through the benefits they provide:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Flexible time off
  • Learning & development budgets
  • Health insurance & retirement contributions
  • Parental leave
  • 4-day work week

The most unconventional is the 4-day work week. They named their 4-day work week policy 'Free Fridays' which is an open ended policy that's only defined by the day of the week it needs to be taken - Friday. Employees have free reign to do anything they want on this day and CockroachDB really mean anything! In their blog post about their Free Friday policy they say 'don’t tell anyone you’re working from home or not coming in to run errands; just do it.' which seems counterintuitive for communication and transparency but it really re-enforces the trust between employer and employees.

From CockroachDB's perspective as an employer, they want the highest output from their employees during the time they're working. Having the experience of starting 10 other companies, the founders are all too aware of what a productive working atmosphere needs to be and, for them, this means trusting their employees to work in the way they're most productive because everyone has their own preference with how they like to work - at home or in an office (co-working space or cafe), with headphones or without headphones, in the morning or in the evening, etc. The benefits of flexible hours and remote work offers this level of freedom.

For their employees, having this control over their time and work allows them more peace of mind to focus on the tasks they need to do by decreasing the stress of expectations like compulsory office hours, being required to come into an office or keeping everyone updated about small inconveniences stopping them from getting work done (commuting delays, issues at home, etc).

They've levelled up their employee-wellness with Free Friday. An optional 4-day week hands another lever of control back to their employees to organise their work and personal life in the most efficient and productive way for them. In 2018 Zenefits released a report that stated 78% of employees strongly agreed that flexible working (i.e. time control) made them more productive . With the Free Friday policy being ingrained in the culture of CockroachDB and with no obligation to explain how they're spending their Free Friday, there's no guilt for employees actually taking this day for themselves.

Having their company built upon a foundation of trust is the reason this really works for them. CockroachDB have hired people that are passionate about their work and have provided them with the freedom to work productively on their own terms and benefit from an increased work-life balance in whatever way that's meaningful to them.

💡 One of the greatest things about Free Fridays is you get to move through the normal world in an unconventional way.