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Would You Prefer a Four Day Work Week?

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I was reading CNN the other day and read about the state of Utah, which recently went to a 4 day work week for many of its state employees. As a result, the state hopes to save over $3 million dollars in utility costs over the course of the next year by closing over 1,000 state buildings one extra day per week.

The move would require most non-emergency personnel to work 10 hour days Monday-Thursday, instead of the traditional 8 hours Monday-Friday.

This will obviously cause a period of adjustment for state workers, as well as state residents who were, until recently, able to take care of things like getting driver’s licenses, paying taxes, and other state business 5 days a week. The benefit for residents is they will be able to take care of things either earlier or later than they previously were able to, so certain tasks may be easier for some people.

What do you think of a 4 day work week?

Personally, I love the idea. I’ve worked every shift imaginable, and I would have no problem going into work an hour earlier and coming home an hour later. I would also try to cut down my lunch break as well so I could get out a little earlier. The idea of a three day weekend every week is extremely appealing to me. I would love an extra day every week to take care of things around the house, go grocery shopping, work on my websites, and take care of everything else required in a “normal” busy life.

Unfortunately, this was recently brought up to our Vice President in an “all hands call” and the idea was quickly shot down. I work as a government contractor and we work hand in hand with military and civilian personnel who work a traditional 8-5, M-F schedule. To ask us to do anything different wouldn’t be fair to our client. We discussed the fact that telecommuting can save money for employers and employees, and that idea was taken into further consideration.

How about every other Friday off? There are similar modified schedules that gives employees every other Friday off. My neighbor works works 9 hour days and gets every other Friday off. Again, this isn’t an option for me because our mission is based on a 5 day work week, and our time is submitted weekly. But I would love to have this option as well. Even one or two extra days off per month would be a blessing in my book.

Pros to a 4 day work week. There are quite a  few things I love about the idea of a 4 day work week. The most beneficial aspect is more time. No, there isn’t a magic button that makes each day have more than 24 hours. But in my opinion, you can do a lot more with with a full day off than with an extra hour or two broken up over the course of a week. Pros:

  • More time at home with family.
  • More time to take care of chores, shopping, and other household activities (do it all Friday and have Saturday to yourself).
  • More time to devote to hobbies.
  • Lower commuting costs (save money on gas!).
  • Save money on food (unless you brown bag it every day).
  • Do you shopping and other errands on Fridays when most people are working.

Cons to a 4 day work week. While a 4 day work week seems like a golden opportunity, it is a rare opportunity at best. And like everything else, if there are good things, there are probably some things that are bad. Cons:

  • Not available for most workers (most businesses do not have the option of closing doors an extra day per week).
  • Arranging day care may be difficult; particularly for single parents or those with special needs.
  • 10 hour days can get long and tedious very quickly.

What do you think? Would you prefer to work four 10 hour days and have every Friday off? Or do you prefer the standard 8-5, M-F work schedule?


Published or updated September 29, 2011.
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ryan

deepali,

I didn’t even think about the work from home option! I would like that option as well, if only because then I would be able to save some time and money on my commute.

I would love to have every other Friday off… But I have a lot of other great benefits at my job, so I won’t complain! :)

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2 Traciatim

I don’t understand where the energy savings in the building are. Say all the lights are on while people are working . . . you go from 40 hours a week to 40 hours a week. How about you reduce the temperature when people are there, we’ve now moved from 40 hours to 40 hours.

I understand the less commute, but won’t you end up in the end spending LESS time with the family since your kids will be at school on the Friday that you are sitting home doing nothing? Where’s the magical advantages?

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3 Dividend Growth Investor

I like the idea of working from home one day per week. My sister in law works for a federal agency and she works about 2-3 days/week from home.

The only other con for a 4 day workweek at 10 hours/day is when you have to stay after work to finish a project. Those 10 hours could quickly turn into 12 or 14 :-(

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4 Ryan

Traciatim,

I think the greater savings come from heating and cooling costs than from savings from lighting. It takes more energy to heat or cool a building from non-occupied temperatures than to maintain occupied temps.

For example: It takes more energy to cool a building from a non-occupied temp of 80 degrees to an occupied temp of 75 degrees than it does to maintain a temp of 75 degrees. That means there is one less day where not only is the air conditioning required to cool the entire building from non-occupied temps, but it also doesn’t need to maintain the air conditioning the entire day.

It is also cheaper to cool a building in the morning and in the evenings because the temperature is usually lower at those times of the day, so extending the hours you run the AC in the morning and evening and cutting out a full day of running the AC during peak hours should save a lot of money – especially when multiplied by over 1,000 buildings.

As for lighting, every place I have ever worked always had one or two people who came in early or stayed late. In which case all the lights stayed on anyway. So for a place with normal hours of 8-5, the lights were usually on from 7-6, plus or minus a little (11 hours). If the hours change to 7-6 for a full day (11 hours) and people still come in and stay early and late, we are looking at maybe 13 hours. 13*4 = 52 hours of lights, vs. the previous 55 hours of lights (11*5). That is a savings of 3 hours of lights. While that doesn’t sound like much, that also includes three hours of radios, computers, desk lamps, televisions, fewer microwaves running, and other electrical use. Again that may not seem like a lot of savings until you multiply it by a factor of 1,000 buildings. When you consider the scale, it is easy to see that the savings could be quite substantial.

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5 Ryan

Blaine, mine too. I need to work from location anyway because my job relies on a lot of interaction with others. I would love the option, but that doesn’t work for me in my current job. Maybe one day. :)

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6 deepali

In the summertime, DC and the feds let people do the every other Friday thing. I think it’s available year-round too, but I think it’s more available in the summer.
I admit, I like it – it makes my walk to work less stressful. :)

I have a flexible schedule, partly because that’s what I like, and partly because I talk to people around the world and need to be somewhat available all the time. I like it this way.

If I had to spend more than $5 a day commuting, I would definitely push for either 4- or 9-day schedules, or at least the opp to work from home on a regular schedule.

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7 Blaine Moore

My bosses have declined to allow me to do the 4 day work week, or the telecommute option. That want my butt in my chair on location.

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8 Miranda

I am a freelance writing working from home. It’s a great job. I think that there would be a lot of benefits in terms of telecommuting for office jobs. But, as was pointed out, retail businesses, banks and the like really wouldn’t have that option.

And what happens of schools go to a four day schedule, as they are doing in some states? That would cause all sorts of problems for workers who, because of the nature of their jobs, can’t get every Friday off.

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9 Eric

I would not mind working a 4 day work week or even 9 hours a day. Unfortunately, I am also on a bi monthly pay cycle so every two weeks we need to submit our time sheets. This makes it complex because it’s only on certain day’s (1,15th) that we submit them. The day’s become off and timetimes we have 80 hour weeks, and others are 88. Our sheets need to be aligned with those hours otherwise someone gets angry because the additional burden of complex math.

At the same time, my schedule right now allows me to go in, work 8 hours (I do a working lunch) and leave my 3 p.m, hit the gym for an hour and a half and still make it home before rush hour starts. Rush hour in a large city is no fun, and my 20 minute commute turns into 45 minutes or longer if there are accidents. i’d love to do it, but I hate traffic :/

cheers

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10 Megan

It is a year-round thing for some agencies (like mine). Some agencies also give employees the 4 day workweek option. I have a few co-workers who do it, but since the majority of the office doesn’t do it, it would be tough to keep that kind of schedule. I would be missing things all the time.

I’m on a 9-80 plan, so I have every other Friday off. Some co-workers take Mondays, one takes a Thursday, but most people take the second Friday in the pay period (so that should something come up earlier in that pay period – like a doctor’s appointment on a Tuesday – they can use their “flex day” for that and then work on their normal Friday off).

Personally, I take the first Friday in the pay period. Why? Because there are about 5 people in the department on the second Friday. My boss needs someone there, and I’m content for it to be me. I get a lot of work done on those days because there aren’t any meetings and people aren’t constantly interrupting your work. It’s a very relaxed, productive day.

That said, 9 hour days are long enough. With the lunch hour and my commute, I’m gone from the house almost 11 hours. I don’t know that I could do 12. Sure, days off are nice, but I think I would lose some of the productivity of weekdays. I would work, come home, workout, eat, and sleep.

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11 Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog

A four day work week is great. I had a 4 day/5 day (9 hours 8 days, and 8 hours 1 day) bi-weekly schedule for several years it was great. Telecommuting is also great, I do that 2 days a week now.

There are some challenges to managing the organization with these things going on (telecommuting, non-standard schedules…) but it is what should be done I believe. Just accept that it requires some adjustments.

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12 Llama Money

10 hour days are long? Wowsers. I wonder what it’s like to think that. I couldn’t tell you the last time I worked *less* than 10 hours a day. It’s usually closer to 12-14 ;(.

Give me 4 10′s any day. Where do I sign?

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13 Ryan

Miranda: as a self-employed individual, your days are pretty much your own, so long as you meet your deadlines. In many ways, though, that is more difficult because you must be strict with your time allocation. That isn’t a strong point for many people, so good on you!

As for schools, I don’t think they should go to a 4 day schedule because that puts an undue stress on parents who can’t afford day care (not that school should be a form of day care! ;) )

Eric: My last job had a similar schedule to yours – turn in time on the 1st and 15th. Our hours ranged anywhere from 80-96 hours. My current job we turn in our time every Friday. Your schedule seems fairly flexible though, which works great for how you prefer to work it. :)

Megan: I like your idea of taking the alternate Friday off. Fewer meetings, being there when your boss needs you… Both great moves! I wold love a 9-80 schedule, but that isn’t in the cards for now. Hopefully one day in the future! :)

CuriousCat: Your schedule sounds great! I wouldn’t mind something similar! :)

Llama Money: Utah. But you need to be willing to work for state wages. ;)

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14 Frugal Dad

I recently switched to a 9/80 schedule you referred to where I get every other Friday off. Me and a coworker alternate our schedules because one of us has to be here every day. It’s worked out well so far, and the extra hour eight days in a two-week period hasn’t been too bad. I come in a half hour earlier and stay a half-hour later each day so neither side of lunch seem too much longer!

These types of schedules are difficult for those with kids in school/daycare because they often cannot come in any earlier, or stay any later, because they have to drop off/pick up their kids.

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15 Steward

I would love to have a ten hour day. I doubt it would hurt my personal productivity very much (that is pretty bad as it is by the way) and it would be great to get other things done. The only hard thing would be commuting during the winter – it would be dark when I biked in and dark when I bike home for sure.

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16 ToughMoneyLove

If your job involves manual labor or being on your feet all day, those extra one or two hours are a grind and result in diminished productivity. For office workers, telecommuting is the way to go.

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17 Ryan

Steward: Biking in the winter does not sound like fun at all! Of course it all depends on the climate. It snows and ices here, so it wouldn’t be very safe.

APFB: Half days on Fridays is a very nice compromise. I wouldn’t be averse to a similar schedule.

ToughMoneyLove: I agree. I used to work aircraft maintenance in the USAF and our standard day was at least 9-10 hours by the time everything was all said and done. When we deployed we were scheduled for 12 hours, but it usually turned into about 14 hours. I much prefer a set schedule!

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18 Another Personal Finance Blog

The company I work for has half-days of fridays. We work four nine-hour days and one four-hour day. It is really worth it to get off early on fridays. It makes the weekend seem so much longer.

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19 Jarhead

Man gimme 4 10s anytime. Right now I usually am at work for at least 10 hours a day anyway(course I can take off for 2 hour bike ride in the middle of the day for PT). in fact this week I came in today at 6 and won’t go home until sometime Friday. Guess that is the way it is when working for uncle sam.

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20 Kristen

I would be jumping for joy if my agency went to a four-day work week. It would save me a lot of money on gas. Unfortunately I have a round trip commute of 70 miles a day, and there is no reasonable, reliable public transportation that I can take. Having Fridays off would save me quite a bit of money each month. Plus it would be great to have longer weekends.

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21 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

I’d love a four day work week. In my current position, I work 50+ hours/week, M-F. Four days would be ideal.

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22 deepali

Reading all these comments makes me love my job even more!

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23 Lauren

I currently work 3 9.5 hour days and 1 9 hour day with Thursdays off. My company only makes us work 37.5 hour weeks (score!) and offers my department the 4 day schedule. It’s pretty good, except that those 9.5 hours of data entry can be rough. Add in my 2 hours of commuting time and my evenings are very short. My productivity probably has fallen as well. Some days from 4 to 5:30, when everyone else has left the office, I spend a lot of time staring out the window. But man oh man, do I love those Thursdays off.

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24 Ryan

Lauren, I think I would love those days off as well, and I certainly wouldn’t mind missing out on a day of that commute!

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25 Anne Gannon

I am interested in knowing if anyone in the hospitality field has tried a 4 day work week, and if it is workiing well or not.

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26 Thomas

Hello guys,

I am doing some research about this topic and I created a website which collects signatures for this idea.
So if you agree to have 4 working days per week please come and sign it at http://www.4workingdays.com

Thanks a lot,

Thomas

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