Four-Day Work Weeks

If you’re reading this on a Friday, I think we can guess exactly how you feel about a four-day work week, flex-time, and work-life balance. Four-day work weeks have a lot more going for them than just 3 day weekends, though (as if that weren’t enough). Let’s start with a trip down memory lane…

The idea of knocking a day off the traditional Monday thru Friday gig gained a lot of traction in 2008, when the price of gas had skyrocketed to around $5 a gallon. Employers and employees alike wanted to save energy costs by commuting less and turning off the lights more. During 2008, the state of Utah memorably implemented a 4/10 system (4 days a week, 10 hours a day) with the goal of saving $3 million per year in energy costs. Although the energy savings was initially good, the advantages plateaued after a year or so and the experiment ended.

Even so, is a four-day work week a good flex-time option for your employees? The big advantage is having more days off during the week. The extra day off leaves employees time to make appointments, run errands, and maintain a work-life balance. Some employers also report increased productivity during the shorter work weeks—employees work more efficiently with the promise of more time off. They are also more refreshed.

Energy savings for your facilities and vehicles is also a consideration. However, as state facilities in Utah discovered, the actual energy savings might not be that significant. If energy savings is a big consideration for your company, it might be a good idea to have a professional energy assessment in order to estimate your savings.

Other potential downsides are: difficulty finding childcare for kids during extended work hours, employees becoming fatigued during the extended hours, and flex-time scheduling conflicts with clients and co-workers. Scheduling conflicts are most likely to arise when some employees use a four-day work week and others keep more traditional hours. With employees out of the office on one or more days a week, it can be difficult to schedule meetings and work collaboratively. This complication increases, of course, the more flex-time you allow your employees.

It is also possible that some employees simply won’t like working 10 hour days. Imagine how you feel every day when 5 o’clock rolls around, and think about hanging around for another 2 hours. While the 3 day weekend is certainly worth thinking about… sometimes it’s nice to just be workin’ nine to five. That’s a kind of work-life balance, too.

Anyone have four-day work weeks at their company? How does it impact your work-life balance? Also check out this article about true flex-time: four-day work weeks… at only 8 hours apiece!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by DafneCholet