Four-Day Work Weeks

Dear Anita,

I just love 3-day weekends! How can I convince my manager to adjust my schedule to a 4-day work week permanently?

Dear, TGI Thursday,

Back in 1914, Henry Ford reduced The Ford Motor Company’s work week from 48 to 40 hours, believing that long hours decreased productivity. Is it time, 101 years later, to decrease the work week even further?

Not every company can embrace the four-day work week. Weekends (at least Sundays) were once sacred with the vast majority of businesses closing up shop. But in the late 1960s and early ’70s, more retail enterprises started opening on Saturdays and eventually many added Sundays to their schedules to increase or maintain profitability. Can your company’s business survive with a four-day week?

It’s a rare company that would offer you a 32-hour week for the same wage as your 40-hour week. One way to maintain productivity (and salary) is with a “compressed” work week, where 40 hours are scheduled into four days. Adjusting to a 10-hour day can be a challenge at first, but it does have its perks. If you’re getting to work an hour earlier and leaving an hour later, this may decrease your commute time since you’ll be driving during off-peak hours. A four-day week also cuts the cost of commuting, potentially saving employees 20% in gas. If you have kids in daycare, you may be able to cut childcare expenses as well (though finding a facility with extended hours could prove difficult).  While you’re compressing your work week, you’re also compressing your evenings. There will be less time to cram in all after-work activities — cooking, errands, kids’ homework, and — oh, yes, — pleasurable leisure activities!

4-Day_Week_000017443240If an entire company could go to a four-day work week, the business could potentially save 20% of its energy costs. However, some companies that implement four-day work weeks stagger employee schedules to provide adequate phone and email coverage for customers during the traditional five-day week. That can create logistical challenges for scheduling meetings and keeping all employees on-track. Businesses that operate 24/7 may find three 10-hour shifts creates unprofitable overlap.

After pondering the pros and cons yourself, approach your boss outlining the benefits to the company as well as employees. If management says no, you can always move the Netherlands, where the four-day work week is standard.

Readers: Would you prefer a compressed week in order to have year-round three-day weekends?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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