Dear Pat: I love the idea of having working four days a week with Fridays off so I’m thinking of proposing a compressed work week. My job as an underwriter is adaptable to it, but I’m not sure that I am. In an occasional crunch, I work 9 to 10-hour days, but working four 10-hour days in a row every single week? That’s not something I can get used to. What should I do? ~ Fearing Fatigue
Dear Fearing Fatigue: A compressed workweek of four 10-hour days allows an employee to save on gasoline costs and have more time off, so it’s no wonder I see lots of interest in this work option.
But you highlight a crucial consideration when choosing a flexible work arrangement: decide on one that not only fits your job, but also fits you. When I posted about the pros and cons of a compressed work week as a flexible work choice, the fatigue factor was on the list of challenges.
3 Creative Options for Working Four Days a Week
1. Take Wednesdays Off Instead of Fridays
You might be able to handle working 40 hours in four days a week if you take Wednesdays as the off day. Having a midweek break from work allows you to pause your pace which can restore a sense of personal control over your home life.
It could be an activity-filled day—a child’s school field trip, shopping, health appointments, chores, and so on. Yet you may find that the shift in activities midstream in your workweek refreshes you for the week’s remaining two workdays.
Most of us are moving in and out of multiple roles in a hectic fashion throughout the week anyway. A calmer-paced rhythm of two days ‘on’ and one (Wednesday) or two days (weekends) ‘off’ can help you overcome fatigue and enhance both your work and personal lives.
2. Propose a 5/4/9 Compressed Work Week
If it’s Fridays off you’re after, this alternate definition of a compressed work week could be your answer. One week, work Monday through Friday, 9 hours a day (45 hours); the next week, work Monday through Thursday, 9 hours a day (36 hours). This totals 81 hours, and allows you to take off every other Friday while you retain 100% of your salary.
3. Take Every Other Friday Off
Instead of a compressed work week, consider trading some money for time off. Work your usual 8 hours a day but take every other Friday off. This arrangement gives you 26 long weekends a year in exchange for a 10% salary cut, i.e., 72 hours every two weeks out of the 80-hour pay period retains 90% of your salary.
To get you started, I’m sending you a complimentary copy of the Compressed Workweek Proposal Package. Please let me know how it goes.
PS: Working four days a week in fewer than 40 hours is another option. Consider options #2 and #3 in my article, 3 Ways to Go Part-time Without Going Broke.
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