Compressing a 5 day working schedule into 4 days means adding 2 hours every day to the work day. Instead of working for 8 hours, it means there needs to be a 10 hour day. A typical schedule would mean working Monday thru Thursday 7-5 or 7-6, depending on the lunch break structure, providing for a three day weekend every week. This means there’s an extra day off, yet full time hours are still being worked.
This compressed arrangement has some benefits, but there are also some distinct disadvantages that must be considered. Here are the pros and cons of a 4 day work week.
The Pros of a 4 Day Work Week
1. It helps to boost employee morale.
Who doesn’t like having time off from work? Spending 40+ hours per week at work puts a drain on a person’s mental energy. The extra time off that a compressed schedule provides allows employees to feel like they can spend more time with their families and this fact provides a definitive value to them. In return, people work harder because they feel better about their career.
2. It changes how people commute to work.
This is a benefit that can definitely be seen in larger cities where traffic can be difficult to navigate. The two hour adjustment to the schedule places workers outside of the normal patterns of rush hour, making it easier to get to and from work. A faster commute means more time at home and less money spent on fuel, which are two added bonuses that workers can receive.
3. It provides workers with the chance to complete more projects.
Because workers are spending longer periods of time at work, there are fewer overall interruptions for assigned projects. Workers don’t always have to leave a project to be completed the next day. It takes the average person about 15 minutes to switch their focus to the next task at hand, so that means less time gets wasted for the employer and more productivity can be achieved.
4. The compressed schedule provides employers with some coverage flexibility.
The 4 day work week doesn’t have to be from Monday-Thursday. Some people may prefer working Friday-Monday. Others may want to have Tuesday-Friday instead because they really hate Mondays. The 4 day schedule allows employers to have some hiring flexibility while still promoting a schedule benefit over the 9-5 grind so many people endure.
The Cons of a 4 Day Work Week
1. How long is that 2pm wall going to last?
It takes time to get used to an extended working day. Many people tend to hit the wall around 2-3pm and their productivity levels decrease from that point. Instead of going home at 5pm, it may be another hour or two before the worker is allowed to leave and that means the lack of productivity extends out even further than before thanks to increased fatigue that occurs after Hour 8.
2. It can be difficult to find child care.
A compressed schedule may free up a day every week, but it also presents a challenge to working parents – especially when there are young children involved. Trying to match up activity schedules, daycare needs, and other needed appointments can be difficult because there is less flexibility in 4 out of the 5 days of a normal working week.
3. An ongoing compressed schedule can lead to chronic fatigue.
10 hours of work is draining on anyone. Even when people are used to it, by the time the fourth day rolls around, exhaustion is going to be present. The extra day off tends to be a day of recuperation that may not be necessary under a standard 5 day work week. Add in the requests for overtime or after hours work that may creep up and the fatigue that sets in can have a detrimental effect on the worker and the employer.
4. It may not be possible to complete all job duties in the compressed time.
Not every organization operates under a compressed scheduling structure. If someone needs to work closely with another company and they go home at 5pm, what will that worker do for the last hour or two? There’s a good chance that an employer could be paying a worker to do absolutely nothing because of the logistics of their working relationships.
The pros and cons of a 4 day work week show that when it is structured correctly, it can be tremendously beneficial. It can also present certain challenges that may always be present. If fatigue and scheduling conflicts can be resolved in some way, then implementing a compressed schedule may make sense.