If you’re trying to attract top talent or figure out how to keep your current team members happy and productive, switching to a compressed workweek is worth considering. In short, a compressed workweek squeezes a 40-hour workload into fewer days than the traditional five.
Employees are drawn to a compressed workweek schedule because it’s more flexible than conventional models. This arrangement can help businesses manage periods where workloads are heavier than average.
In some cases, it can serve as an excellent model year-round. But before you dive into restructuring your schedules, it’s essential to learn how a compressed workweek could fit into your short- and long-term goals. Let’s take a look at the fundamentals, benefits, and drawbacks of offering a compressed workweek. And we’ll even show you how to implement it successfully in your workplace.
What Are the Most Common Compressed Work Schedules?
The 4/10 work schedule is the most common type of compressed workweek. This arrangement means that an employee works four 10 hour days during the week, usually Monday through Thursday. This gives them Friday through Sunday off.
The 4/10 work schedule does not work for some companies. But there are alternative schedules to consider, such as the 9/80 work schedule. Essentially, an employee works nine hours a day Monday through Thursday and eight hours on Friday of the first week. The employee also works nine hours a day Monday through Thursday during the second week and has that Friday off.
As with a traditional and 4/10 work schedule, the 9/80 schedule adds up to 80 hours over two weeks. The kicker is that workers can enjoy two three-day weekends every month.
Pros and Cons of the Compressed Workweek
Any time you change how your workweeks are structured, it will significantly impact your daily management, the efficiency of your operations, and the work-life balance of your employees. As with any other major decision, switching to the compressed workweek comes with pros and cons.
Pros of the Compressed Workweek
One of the most prevalent advantages of switching to a compressed work schedule is that your kids and your team members have more personal time to rest and recharge. They can spend more time with their families, take self-care trips, and do anything else that fosters their well-being with the extra free time.
The additional free time means that your employees will be less likely to leave work to care for personal matters or errands, translating to fewer absences. And if your business relies on a customer service department, you can use a compressed work schedule to offer customers extended support hours. Moreover, the compressed workweek reduces commuting for your employees. Depending on where they live, some of your team members can’t save money and time by working in the office less frequently.
Cons of the Compressed Workweek
The compressed workweek does not work for every company. Some workers will experience increased fatigue if the schedule is incompatible with the specific industry or job. Also, if you rely on B2B relationships, some of your partners, contractors, or clients who operate on a traditional 9-to-5 schedule might find it challenging to work with your compressed schedule. It’s easy to see how this could cost a variety of issues.
Another drawback of adopting the compressed workweek is that it can infringe on occupational laws if you are not careful. Even if your workers log the same number of hours, they may qualify for a different compensation schedule. Ensure you understand your state’s overtime rules and closely monitor your compressed work schedule to ensure you remain above board.
Furthermore, know that a compressed work schedule may not be ideal for other individuals in your life (and in your employees’ lives). For example, everyone in your company may prefer the new schedule, but it might not be practical for childcare providers who operate on a traditional 9-to-5 schedule. This could make it challenging for your team members to secure childcare.
How Can You Set Up the Compressed Workweek?
When implementing a compressed work schedule, start by determining what type of schedule will best suit your company and employees. Maybe a 4/10 work schedule will be the ideal fit. Perhaps you should try the 9/80 schedule or craft your own that includes components from each of these arrangements.
There are other alternatives to consider as well. Many healthcare professionals and firefighters work three 12-hour days a week because their profession requires 24-hour staffing. You can even allow your team members to choose a schedule that helps them excel on the job and at home.
Understand that a compressed workweek may not be compatible with all of your departments. One team may need a different model than another team in a different location. When changing to a compressed work schedule, it’s essential that your management and staff coordinate effectively to ensure a smooth transition. Your managers must confirm that all roles are filled when other employees are off work.
Switching to a compressed work schedule is easier than ever with our people coordination solution for hybrid working. This set of intuitive tools helps you get to know your team better, link schedules, and find the best times and places for everyone to get their work done.
In addition, your team members also need to ensure that the team meets all deadlines and maintains a seamless workflow. This might require your managers to implement, test, and approve compressed work schedules before setting them in stone in each department.
Once you have confirmed that the compressed workweek is worth implementing, draft a policy detailing which team members are eligible for the new arrangement and when they can use it. Also, outline which managers will be responsible for establishing schedules and formally requesting them. Remain flexible when creating a policy, remembering that each department might need to execute the compressed workweek differently. For instance, your customer service team may need to work longer hours for fewer days while your marketing team thrives on working the 4/10 schedule.
Quick Tips for Creating a Workweek Policy
- Research relevant laws. Keep in mind there might be laws in your city or state that dictate how many hours each worker can log in a given period. If you’re unsure of your compliance, consult your state labor office before adopting the compressed workweek.
- Check with your employees. Switching to a new work schedule may significantly impact your employees’ performance and work-life balance. One team member might have different needs than another. Consult your team to determine what kind of arrangement could benefit them the most.
- Establish essential office hours. Many companies find it challenging to keep staffing consistent when executing the compressed workweek. Be mindful of how you schedule team members so that the office is adequately covered at all times.
- Make changes. Your new work schedule will likely need modifying as you go, especially in the early days. Your managers and employees will need time to adjust, and you may experience issues that need to be resolved along the way. Constantly seek feedback from your team to know what changes need to be made.
The business landscape has drastically changed since the pandemic emerged. A compressed workweek is now a viable option for many companies, proving to benefit both employers and employees.
If you think adopting this new work arrangement is the next step toward growth for your company, start getting a plan together today. Consider the information and advice above to lay a firm foundation for your new work schedule. Make sure you have reliable scheduling software like Kadence to help you along the way.
I Only Work 4 Days a Week — Here’s How I Manage My Time and Schedule | Business Insider
How To Encourage Employees To Take Time Off And Recharge | Forbes
Overtime Pay | US Department of Labor | DOL