If you want to work four days a week instead of five, a compressed work week is one way to get it. It’s a popular choice; Fridays off is a common way they’re configured.
But is it a fit for you? Take a quick look at the pros and cons for yourself, or for your small work group or department.
(If you’re looking for employer policy guidelines, here are a few compressed workweek resources from SHRM.)
Pros of a Compressed Work Week
If you’re like most people, you want more work flexibility while keeping your full-time income, so a four-day workweek of 32 hours—which would cut your pay—is not on your list of flexible work options.
At the same time, you don’t see your job as suitable in a telecommuting arrangement. (Or is it? More on that in a minute.)
That leads to a compressed work week of four, 10-hour days as the flexible work option of choice. Some of its advantages are:
- You’ll have a full day off during each workweek, while still preserving your full-time income.
- Your commute will likely be less stressful as the ride both to and from work lands outside the peak rush hour times.
- You’ll cut your gasoline use and wear-and-tear on your car by 20%.
- Your productivity will increase from having focused, uninterrupted time at the office before most everybody else gets there.
- Depending on the stage of your career, it could be the four-day workweek cure for burn-out.
How to Expand on the Positives
If you add ONE telecommuting day to the arrangement—so that you’re in the office three days a week and working from home one day a week—you’ll expand the productivity and commuting benefits. Is that an option for you?
In fact, working from home rivals most of the advantages listed above, and I favor that flexible work choice over a 4/10 workweek. But a combination of the two might be the right mix for you.
(The mistake some people make in writing off telecommuting as an option is that they think their job can’t be done remotely on a full-time basis. While that might be true, recognize that most remote employees work from home one, two or three days a week, not five. So it could be a viable option, after all. Something to think about.)
Challenges and Cons of the Compressed Work Week
Before you make your request, carefully consider the following downsides:
- An ongoing schedule of ten-hour or nine-hour days, while it may be the norm for some professionals already, can be physically and mentally draining.
- Not only is the workweek squeezed into a shorter time frame, but all the after-work activities must also be wedged into the remaining hours of each work day.
- Chronic fatigue caused by your current work-life time pressures might not be off-set by the regular day off.
- Child or elder care availability might not match your compressed work schedule.
You sure don’t want your job flexibility choice to add to your work-life stress, so before deciding on the route to go, expand and explore your options. I have some ideas for you.
How to Curb the Cons
Instead of four, 10-hour days, consider a couple of creative combinations of the compressed workweek.
Find them in 5 Affordable Ways to Have Fridays Off; options 1 and 4 are especially worth a look. Are they a match for you and your job?
And If a Full-time Four-Day Workweek IS a Fit for You…
…make your request with a proven Compressed Workweek Proposal. The proposal is crafted to get approval for one person making the request, however…
“Many thanks for the research and structure you provide to create a winning proposal; my compressed workweek schedule has been approved. I was able to communicate my needs while providing my employer with a plan to get the work done. It’s a win-win.” Diana Mezick, Administrative Assistant, Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, Bethesda, MD
“…before I left on maternity leave, I requested a compressed workweek. I was told no and that it wouldn’t work. While on leave, I came across your proposal blueprint. I hesitated…[and] was somewhat skeptical. [Then], I decided it was worth the risk. I…emailed it to my boss yesterday morning. By 3pm, she called me to tell me I have her approval to work 4 days per week when I return from maternity leave. I want people to know that it is well worth the [price]. Thank you.” Angie McDonald, Wichita, KS