The four-day work week continues its winning streak. Counties, towns, and cities across the nation are considering switching to the compressed-week schedule, that is, if they haven’t implemented it already. (See Popularity of the 4-day Week Continues to Grow). And, as previously discussed, Utah was the first state to adopt a 4/10 workweek statewide. (See Utah’s Mandatory 4-Day Work Week Will Save the World. Sort of.).
As of yet, though, I am still on the fence. I can’t say I’m opposed to the idea. But I do have substantial doubts about the benefits of a longer workday. I also have concerns about the impact the shortened workweek will have on access to public services—especially by those who are in the most serious need of that access.
But, all of those questions aside, I can’t help but recognize the enthusiasm some have expressed at the idea of a Friday-free workweek. (Hopefully I’ll be a bit more firm in my opinion by September 16, 2008, when I’ll be presenting an audioconference with Rex L. Facer, Plan & Implement Your 4-day Work Week). For employers who are not quite convinced that a four-day workweek is a magic cure-all, it may be helpful to review some of the positive benefits that are said to result from the shortened work week. Here are of the “pros” from my Pros and Cons List on the topic. These might give you a start in evaluating whether such a program is a good fit for your workplace.
- Reduced fuel costs. Employees would have to endure the dreaded commute one less day each week, thereby saving money at the pump with reduced fuel consumption.
- Decreased absenteeism. On a five-day schedule, employees are forced to cram their two days off with personal errands, chores, soccer games, and social outings. By the time Monday comes around, there hasn’t been a minute of rest and employees are just plum beat. So they call out of work. This wouldn’t happen so frequently if employees had a third day to accomplish the work they have to do outside of work.
- Increased productivity. It’s a well-established principle of productivity that workers become less efficient where no deadline looms. That’s why we’re more efficient in the week before vacation—we know we have to get it done by the time we leave. The same idea is transferable to a shortened workweek. Employees are least productive on Fridays so why not just eliminate them altogether?
- Improved job satisfaction and morale. Satisfaction with what goes on in the workplace may be tied to what goes on outside of the workplace. Employees who spend more time with family and friends, who have the flexibility of three days off, will return to work refreshed, and generally less hostile to their employer.
- Reduced personnel turnover. Not surprisingly, #4 leads to #5. Happier employees tend to leave less often. If they like the job, they’re more likely to stick around.
- Reduced energy costs. By closing for three, instead of two, days each week, employers stand to recognize substantial energy costs. These costs can be significant where the schedule will actually permit the employer to close an entire facility for an additional day.
- Improved work-life balance. As a result of the added day, employees who work a four-day week will have more time to spend with their families and friends.
- Reduced traffic congestion. This potential effect may be seen largely on Fridays, which is the day most employers are converting to a non-working day.
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