To grow your company and make millions, start working four days a week

Is it possible for an entire company to work a four-day week, grow revenue by 120% per year and do millions of dollars in yearly sales?

Yes.

At Treehouse, the online school I founded in 2010, we figured out how. We work a 4-day week, and in just 32 hours per week, here’s what we’ve been fortunate to achieve:

  • Over $10,000,000 in yearly sales
  • 70 full-time employees
  • Yearly revenue growth of over 120%
  • $13,000,000 raised in venture capital
  • Over 70,000 paying students

What’s the trick?

We have over 70,000 students at Treehouse and only 70 employees—and we only work 32 hours a week. I have been working 4 days a week since 2006 because I wanted time to dedicate to the people I love, and when people join the company they often wonder if we’re for real. Sometimes, they expect they’ll have to work 40 hours anyway—but they end up positively surprised. How are we able to achieve a customer-to-employee ratio of 1,000-to-1? By increasing efficiency.

Here’s how we do it.

1. No internal email

We’ve banned using email internally. Because email is push instead of pull. Instead of going out and pulling the information I need, when I need it, email allows others to push information on me, by copying on emails I don’t need to read, when it’s convenient for them. Therefore I spend the majority of my time trying to clear my inbox, doing things that are important for other people, instead of advancing my priorities.

Instead of the push email model, we use two simple tools: Convoy and Flow.

Convoy is a simple forum, just like Reddit, except it’s only visible to Treehouse employees. You can post ideas, celebrate wins, discuss competitors, say happy birthday, post funny videos—anything really. If someone has time to consume these things, they just go to Convoy. All this ‘noise’ (even if it’s healthy noise) doesn’t clutter up your inbox.

You go pull the information when and if you want it. We have @person tagging in Convoy so that you can mention people to get their attention. However, this doesn’t email the person – it simply puts a notification at the top of Convoy so the next time they log in, they’ll see where they’ve been mentioned.

I get probably 10 to 20 emails a day and they’re almost all from external people. It’s amazing.

We manage our projects with a simple tool we’ve built called Flow. Here’s how it works:

  • You propose a project that you’re passionate about, including a title, description and measure of success.
  • You add “roles” to the project that are needed for completion. For example, if you wanted to add a new page to the site, you’d add a designer and a developer.
  • You hit “Propose Project.”
  • Once a day, everyone in the company is emailed a summary of the all the proposed projects in Flow (one of the few things we use email for).
  • If you think you’ll be able to fill one of the available roles in the Project, you go to the project in Flow and click “join.”
  • Once the all the roles for the project get filled, someone clicks “start,” picks a due date and work begins.
  • At the end of each day, every person on a project enters a simple “status” for what they did that day on the project and chooses a % complete for their role in the project.
  • If you need to discuss something with other people on the project, you go to the discussion tab and start a new discussion (much like a forum) or jump in HipChat and chat about it.

This leads to the second vital secret to the four-day week.

2. Asynchronous communication

95% of all communication at Treehouse is written. We avoid facetime meetings and phone calls whenever possible. Keeping communication in written form means that people can respond when it’s convenient for them.

As you know, it completely wrecks your productivity when someone comes over to your desk and taps you on the shoulder, or pulls you into a meeting. You have to stop what you’re doing and participate in a discussion, whether you really need to or not.

However, if I ping you on HipChat, you can respond when it’s best for you. We remove the “I need to know ASAP!” communication that is often so rampant in companies today.

Yes, we occasionally use Google Hangouts to have a face-to-face meeting, but we avoid them if possible and always make attendance optional.

3. The big picture

There’s just one more small piece to this puzzle: We don’t have managers at Treehouse.

The overarching theme here is this: We treat our employees like the responsible adults they are. We let people set their own priorities and communicate when it’s most convenient for them.

The amazing benefits

There are plenty of reasons to work a four-day week.

  • Recruiting is easy (we still pay full salaries and offer a very generous benefits package). We regularly have new employees choose Treehouse over Facebook, Twitter and other top-tier tech companies.
  • Retention is easier. One of the team told me he regularly gets emails from Facebook trying to win him over and his answer is always the same: “Do you work a four-day week yet?”
  • Morale is boosted. On Mondays everyone is fresh and excited—not jaded from working over the weekend.
  • 50% more time with our family and friends. I get to spend three days a week, instead of two, with my family. 50%. It’s insane. For those on the team without kids, they get to spend this extra 50% on their hobbies or loved ones.

I hope our experience encourages you to consider working a four-day week. It sounds insane, until you try it.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanCarson. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

Source: http://qz.com/

Is it possible for an entire company to work a four-day week, grow revenue by 120% per year and do millions of dollars in yearly sales? Yes. At Treehouse, the online school I founded in 2010, we figured out how. We work a 4-day week, and in just 32 hours…

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Express 4 in production

Express 4 just got released thanks to the great work of @defunctzombie and the expressjs team.

The main change is, that Express does not have connect as a dependency anymore, which means that the bundled middlewares are no longer available in the express module. These should be installed and listed in your apps package.json. This allows faster updates of the middlewares without affecting the release cycles of express.

Migrating

The things you should pay attention to:

  • app.configure(): removed, no longer available
  • app.router: removed, no need to manually do it
  • express.createServer(): removed, use express()
  • public API for the Router

It took only a day to change to new version of express, in a medium size application like ours.

For more, please check the migrating guidelines and the list of new features.

In production

We have deployed to only one API node for testing purposes (after running it several days on our staging environment) just to see how it performs under heavy load. We are serving millions of requests every day so even in this setup the node with the new version still receives lots of requests.

In short: hats off! All of our metrics improved on the API node using the new version of Express:

  • response times dropped by 20%
  • memory consumption dropped by 10%

Conclusion

As you can see, the effort you have to put in to migrate the new version is very little compared to the performance gains. If you have at least integration tests to check if everything is okay, you should definitely start using the new version.

Express 4 just got released thanks to the great work of @defunctzombie and the expressjs team.The main change is, that Express does not have connect as a dependency anymore, which means that the bundled middlewares are no longer available in the express module. These should be installed and listed…

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France Just Made It Illegal To Answer Work Emails After 6pm

Editor's note: The post below was immensely popular on our social networks today--clearly, this story hit a nerve with email-weary workers across America and the world. We wish to clarify some information in The Guardian report. French unions did not ban French employees from sending emails after precisely 6 p.m.--the agreement meant to protect some workers from too much after-hours work intrusion (and consequently, burnout) does not stipulate 6 p.m. as a hard stopping time for work-related emails. In addition, the agreement won't affect as many people asThe Guardian report suggested--about 200,000-250,000 workers will be affected by the rule, according to French media.

There are many ways to distance yourself from the crushing tidal wave that is your work inbox. You can, for instance, impose an email sabbatical, which is supposed to be good for your mental health. Or you can plow through all of your emails in one go with the savvy use of search filters.

Now, there's a new lifehack for dealing with email 24/7, and it might just be our favorite yet: Move to France. The Guardian reports that the country's workers unions just imposed a ban that forbids employees from attending to "work-related material on their computers or smartphones" after they clock out for the day:

Now employers' federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm. Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones --or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita.

Emphasis added. So, in addition to 35-hour work weeks, it is now frowned upon for the French workforce to tend to business once it's time to eat dinner. Germany's labor ministry has similar after-hour measures in place. Though it's unclear exactly how that will be enforced, it's a nice perk to have in any case. C'est la vie.

Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/

Editor's note: The post below was immensely popular on our social networks today--clearly, this story hit a nerve with email-weary workers across America and the world. We wish to clarify some information in The Guardian report. French unions did not ban French employees from sending emails after precisely 6 p…

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Post Flat Design

There’s been growing unrest about the future of interaction design trends. In the past week alone, I’ve read three separate discussions about the so-called “end of flat design.” This kind of talk is awesome because some of the best aesthetic and interaction design work is done at the dawn of a brand new trend. It gets designers thinking and inspires that special kind of creativity that our industry thrives on.

The pendulum swings

In the beginning, CSS only allowed for basic control over HTML documents. As web design technology grew up, the skeuomorphic aesthetic took hold, pushing the boundaries of what was possible on the Web. But as the style matured, some interfaces became difficult to use, confusing, or downright ugly. We abused the textures, shadows, and fine details that helped us define our industry. Designers wanted something fresh and simple to replace it.

The flat movement was born out of a need to get as far away from skeuomorphism as possible. Shadows and metallic sheen were replaced with solid hues and typography-driven design. It was a harken back to the Swiss ‘international style’ of design where strong typography and blocks of color reigned supreme in print.

image

But perhaps the pendulum swung too far in the flat direction. In the transition to flat we lost some of the helpful affordances – especially on buttons and forms – that more traditional aesthetics used to make our products easy to use. When everything became flat, creating a clear visual hierarchy became a constant challenge.

image Can you tell which Shift key is enabled?

Flat has been the predominant visual style for over a year, and some brilliant work has come out of it. But it’s clear that now it’s time to let the pendulum swing back – if even only a little bit.

Post Flat

I propose post flat design – not just as a new way of thinking about design aesthetic – but also creating sensible visual hierarchy and more understandable interfaces for our users. Some qualities of a post flat interface may include:

  • Hierarchy defined using size, and composition along with color.
  • Affordant buttons, forms, and interactive elements
  • Skeuomorphs to represent 1:1 analogs to real-life objects (the curl of an e-book page, for example) in the name of user delight or affordance
  • Strong emphasis on content, not ornamentation
  • Beautiful, readable typography

Both skeuomorphic and flat extremes have uniquely beautiful and useful qualities, but merging the two styles allows us to leverage the strengths of both. For example, a mobile app might have dimensional buttons instead of colored text to represent primary actions within the interface.

image Flaer by Brian Benitez

Without strict visual requirements associated with flat design, post flat offers designers tons of variety to explore new aesthetics – informed by the best qualities of skeuomorphic and flat design. Designers won’t have to sacrifice usability to “fit in” with the latest trend.

image Light and Switch by Sebastien Gabriel

image Animated Safari Icon by Ray

Let’s try this out. Dust off your drop shadows and gradients, and introduce them to your flat color buttons and icons. Do your absolute best work without feeling restricted to a single aesthetic. Bring variety, creativity, and delight back to your interfaces. We’re trying some exciting things here at Collective Ray in the spirit of post flat design – it’s a refreshing and exciting challenge.

Source: http://blog.collectiveray.com

There’s been growing unrest about the future of interaction design trends. In the past week alone, I’ve read three separate discussions about the so-called “end of flat design.” This kind of talk is awesome because some of the best aesthetic and interaction design work…

Read More

Nodejitsu Rocks

Deploying NodeJS apps has been painful in my past. I have used Heroku in the past, but I think I found my new love...Nodejitsu. You can see my latest open source project "Kano" by pointing your browser towards http://kano.jit.su.

Deploying an app on nodejitsu is very simple:

jitsu deploy

Also if you need any help, just poke your head into the chat http://webchat.jit.su

Enjoy!

Deploying NodeJS apps has been painful in my past. I have used Heroku in the past, but I think I found my new love...Nodejitsu. You can see my latest open source project "Kano" by pointing your browser towards http://kano.jit.su. Deploying an app on nodejitsu is very…

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KANO

This weekend I put together my first open source project called Kano. You can learn more about the project by visiting here or visiting my github https://github.com/erictherobot/kano

This weekend I put together my first open source project called Kano. You can learn more about the project by visiting here or visiting my github https://github.com/erictherobot/kano…

Read More