The Four-Day Workweek: Trick or Treat?
Everybody’s working for the weekend. Even if that doesn’t set off lyrics in your head, it’s likely to still have you nodding yes (albeit without dance moves). But how would you feel if that weekend started on a Friday? Mixed emotions? You’re not alone. The four-day workweek is a complicated relationship full of pros and cons. Here are a few to consider…
- Recruitment and retention. In a competitive job market, a flexible work schedule can be a big perk. The key, however, is making sure that the perks you’re offering align with your organization’s culture AND meet the needs of your clients. If a four-day workweek checks both of those boxes, you might find yourself saying, TGIT!
- Reduced commute time. Sure, we all know that one person who loves their commute because it’s how they clear their head or catch up on podcasts. But for the rest of us, commuting is just a giant time-sucking, gas-guzzling, pain in the butt. And the environment thinks so, too.
- Ability to deal with medical appointments on days off. Even if you’re just getting your teeth cleaned, heading back to the office after a doctor’s appointment is always a little awkward. Privacy issues aside, squeezing personal appointments into the workday usually means rescheduling meetings, cutting others short, or taking the day off entirely. Regular doctor’s appointments that might otherwise be skipped can also contribute to a heathier workforce, which in turn leads to increased productivity.
- Better work-life balance. There’s nothing easy about balancing work with a personal life. In fact, instead of shooting for balanced, most people aim for “better.” While that’s not perfect, a consistently better work-life balance can lead to less burnout, fewer used sick days/leaves of absence, and generally happier employees.
- Reduced overhead costs (if you work in an office). Lower utility bills. Do we need to say more?
- Extended customer service hours. Assuming your business has a big enough staff and budget to schedule 10-hour shifts Monday to Friday, a compressed work schedule can benefit customers who want to contact you after 5p.m.
- A 10-hour workday is a long workday. In case you hadn’t done the math, a compressed workweek often means 10-hour days instead of 8s. Depending on the industry and job, adhering to that schedule could cause worker fatigue or even a higher risk of error or injury. As with all business decisions, assessing that risk comes down to understanding and balancing your organization’s needs with its wants. If a 10-hour day ends up feeling more like a trick than a treat, perhaps an alternative flexible work program is an option worth exploring.
- Parents could have a hard time finding extended childcare. Everyone’s personal lives and needs are different, but if you’re an employee who’s also a parent or a caregiver, finding extended daycare becomes extra tricky—and often expensive. Working from home after daycare/school pickup can also become challenging.
- What suits your team might not suit your clients/customers. If you’re a small, service-oriented business that regularly deals with urgent requests, a four-day workweek is probably not for you. Unless, of course, you can afford to hire additional shifts of employees.
- Overtime costs might go up. If your organization is unable to accomplish its goals during the 4-day week, you might find yourself allocating money to contractors and overtime pay.
- Scheduling and communication concerns may arise. Good communication is key to any successful project or relationship. That means communicating early and often with your staff, teammates, stakeholders, and clients. It also means having a solid backup plan, as in knowing who can and cannot be reached on their day off if there’s an emergency—as well as what qualifies as an emergency. Doable? Absolutely. But not without growing pains and a healthy diet of “reflect, review, and adapt.”