The Power of No Meeting Thursdays: Our Remote-First Experiment

February 29, 2024
Jenny Sidorova
Read in Swedish
Sweden Icon

In January 2023, we at DX embraced the concept of "No Meeting Thursdays" inspired by Shopify and the personal experiences of CEO Martin Berg. This article about how a big company like Shopify can do it really caught our eye and we decided to test it for ourselves. This bold move was an experiment aimed at providing uninterrupted, focused time for deep work, aligning with the principles of productivity and well-being. The initiative received positive feedback and has become a staple in our company's remote work culture. This also aligns with our company value “Great today, better tomorrow” as we are always trying to improve and our value “Dare to try”. Check out the DX company values here

Martin Berg introduced the policy with a clear message: Thursdays would be dedicated to deep work, minimizing interruptions, and promoting a culture of focus. The guidelines he shared in a Slack message on the #hq channel in February 2023 read as follows:

“The policy is simple:

  • We don’t schedule meetings on Thursdays
  • If somebody invites you to a meeting on a Thursday, feel free to decline and give them a friendly reminder about our No Meeting Thursdays
  • If you absolutely have to set up a Thursday meeting, make sure you reach out the invitees and explain to them why you’re breaking the No Meeting-rule”

A year into this experiment, the feedback from DXers is resoundingly positive. Instead of us sharing their story, see what DXers had to say for themselves below:

Jenny Sidorova, Marketing

“For me, No Meeting Thursday as I like to refer to it, has been the blessing I didn’t know I needed. It’s my day to start my morning with a workout class as I know that I have a day ahead of no meetings and don’t need to rush. I often time block my day at 2: half of the day is dedicated to structure and just catching up on things like Slack messages, brief writing, answering emails, and reflecting on things not on my agenda or my ‘to do’ list. The 2nd half of the day is often structured by topic. Anything specific I have not had a chance to work on, I know that this is my opportunity to get it done with no or little interruptions, so I often put the block on my calendar, specifying what I want to work on.

As we do a lot of sync brainstorming work in content, Alice and I do like to sometimes schedule those reflection sessions for Thursdays, but we don’t really think of it as a meeting. It’s more a time when we know we can get together with a coffee, think through our strategy and upcoming content projects without having interruptions or a busy day of back-to-back meetings.

The only downside was the first month once we implemented this, as naturally most weeks became very meeting heavy in order to accommodate for a meeting-free Thursday. But this eventually evened itself out.” - Jenny

Bard Karstensen, Operations and Customer Success

“No Meetings Thursday is a day where I can plan to do focus-heavy work. I normally gather up lots of smaller tasks throughout the week which can be tackled one at a time on Thursdays, as well as bigger tasks that need focus and concentration.

It has also helped me realize that I need uninterrupted time on other days of the week, which is why my Mondays and Fridays also are blocked until lunchtime. This has really helped me keep myself on top of my work, and helped switch from reactive to proactive in the way I work.” - Bard

Trond Soras, Engineering

“No Meeting Thursday actually encouraged me to block out most of my week, Tuesday through Thursday, for focused work. This minimizes context switching, which is incredibly costly - it can take a really long time, and a lot of energy, to get back into it after just a single interruption. It also allows me to focus on complex tasks over several days without having to spend as much time getting back up to speed on problems I'm trying to solve - I can keep the problem in my head for extended periods of time. Because of this I can come up with better solutions that take more factors into account, simply because I have more time overall to focus on the problem at hand.

On my team we have, instead of having meetings in the traditional sense, implemented a low bar for jumping on quick video calls to discuss things like architecture decisions, data modeling questions and feature requirements. These are more like unscheduled pair programming sessions - and we're always mindful to allow the other person to finish what they were doing or reach a natural break point - also to minimize context switching.

I think software engineers work with different time units than a lot of other fields. It can take hours of reading code and constructing a mental model before an issue can be fixed - and a single meeting scheduled at a bad time can take you out of your zone, needing to do it all over again.” - Trond

Damiano Condorelli, Product

“Doing great remote work requires doing great async communication and collaboration. Working remote and spending the whole day in meetings is like replicating the office model in a distributed setting. So losing the real value of uninterrupted deep work.

Since I joined, on the product management team, and I think I can say in the company general, there has been a continuous effort to improve the way we work asynchronously. This implies relying more on text, but not only. Video is also a powerful medium, often worth thousands of words.

No Meeting Thursday is a wise choice that incentivizes our focus on async and so has positive effects on our operations and wellbeing.” - Damiano

Guillaume Branders, Business Development

"Thursday has become my most productive day of the week. I now use it to do heavy-focus work and go through the list of to-dos connected to the various meetings I had earlier in the week. During that day, I can take quality time to read and write without being interupted by a call which will divert my attention.It has pushed me to organise the rest of my week following the same type of logic, also to ensure that, even in a remote-first environment, I have a clear work/life time division. My Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be meeting-heavy, while Mondays and Fridays are more free but dedicated to team checkins, which structure my work week.On a more personal level, having no meetings on Thursdays allows me to spend more time taking care of my youngest daughters, and most particularly their sleep - sometimes carried in a sling. Having no need to worry about whether I have a call or not makes that a particularly stress-free day." - Guillaume

All in all, this policy is here to stay. And who knows, someday, we might even add more than one of these days to our remote weekly culture. Only time will tell. 

Share This Article

Stay ahead! Monthly industry insights straight into your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Stay Ahead Blog
Read in Swedish
Sweden Icon