What if every weekend was a 3 day weekend? Considering the Compressed Workweek.

In a society where life is becoming increasingly complex we sometimes need a job that can be flexible beyond the normal 9-5, 9-7, 8-10pm Monday-Saturday timeframe.  The compressed workweek can battle the rigidity of traditional schedules while still allowing for employee productivity.

What is a compressed workweek?

The compressed workweek involves working more hours four days a week in exchange for not having to work the fifth.  The employee still works the 40-45 hours required per week; the only difference being that those hours are squished onto other days.   It is important to note that extra day off is not intended for work of any kind.  This is not a telecommuting or alternative location arrangement.

With that in mind, here are some considerations when inquiring about a compressed workweek:

1) Does your company already have a policy?  Many companies have compressed and flextime policies and procedures already on the books.  Read up on your company’s specific policy to see if a compressed schedule is possible and what steps to take.

2) Talk to your manager. A consistent theme in HR literature reveals that managers are often the gatekeepers to all sorts of alternative work arrangements.   Have a conversation with your supervisor to see if this is possible.  Why not be a trend setter?

3) Make it an occasional thing.  Some employers may not be a fan of the weekly compressed schedule.  That being said, there is no reason why you can’t work a compressed week occasionally or on part-time basis.  Doing so could give you that three or four day weekend without burning vacation time.

4) Make it a seasonal thing.
  Most businesses have a “crazy” time and a “lazy” time.  Not being at work during crazy periods could make for a more stressful work environment overall or lead to calls/communications from your office on your extra day off.  Who needs that?   You may have better luck pitching a compressed workweek during points in the year when things are calmer and there is less chance of stressful deadlines and situations popping up.

5) Consider mid-week.  We all want that long weekend but maybe taking Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday off is the better way to go.  If deadlines at your workplace revolve around a specific day of the week then build your new schedule around that.   If deadlines are usually on Fridays or Mondays then the long weekend approach may not be so popular.

6) Pitch the benefits of a compressed workweek to your supervisor.  Some bosses may not like the idea or not see the benefits (other than you getting a day off) to compressed workweeks.  Here are some positives that you should bring up

  • Increased employee satisfaction (more time off = a more satisfied employee)
  • Increased employee retention (more satisfied employee = a more likely to stay employee)
  • Decreased attendance problems such as lateness, absenteeism, and calling in “sick” (if an employer agrees to a compressed week there is no excuse to be late, or lie about why you can’t go into work.  Not that there ever really is a good excuse to do this).
  • Increased productivity (Largely due to increased morale but also the fact that you a larger block of time daily allows for more to be done with less interruptions.
  • More hours of coverage (Working later may also mean that the company will be open longer.  In a customer service environment this can be especially useful).

Final thought…

The compressed workweek is just another tool as you strive for work-life perfection.  It may be appropriate as a weekly occurrence or may be a nice way to accommodate key events in your life.  In either case what is important is that we seek work arrangements that allow us to flourish both inside and outside of the boardroom.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths.

  Please visit www.paulartale.com for more information.

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