Should Your Company Implement a Four-Day Workweek?

As I mentioned in my blog How to Motivate Your Employees, my friend’s company allowed its employees to take half days on Fridays if they worked an extra hour Monday through Thursday. In order to boost employee morale and cut back on certain expenses, many companies are taking this idea one step further and implementing the four-day workweek. A four-day workweek can help out a business in many ways, but it’s also difficult to implement if your company is used to working 40 hours a week over five days. Read below to learn about the pros and cons of these shorter weeks and how you can go about incorporating it into your own schedule.

Pros and Cons of a Four-Day Workweek

Two years ago, the State of Utah ordered 18,000 of its state employees to work 10 hours a day, four days a week, and to take Fridays off. More than 75% of employees reported a positive experience a year into the program, according to a study by Brigham Young University management professors Rex Facer and Lori Wadsworth. According to the report, the employees took fewer sick days and the State saw reduced overtime costs and savings on energy bills. Employees also experienced fewer conflicts between work and family commitments, boosting morale. And because they knew they only had four days instead of five to get their work done, employees became more productive.

The program implemented by the State of Utah is just one example of the advantages of having a four-day workweek. The biggest pro for this type of schedule is the cost of maintaining your office. With one less day a week, you can cut back on your energy bills and employee parking reimbursement costs as well. Another great advantage of a four-day workweek is the boost in employee morale. Work becomes much easier when you’re looking forward to a three-day weekend!

However, not every company should try switching their work schedule. Just because your office is closed on Fridays doesn’t mean that your customers won’t need your support five days a week. Plus, for some employees working 10 hours a day could be more physically draining than working a five-day week.

How to Implement a Four-Day Workweek

If you’re going to implement a four-day workweek, you need to think through the benefits and cons of doing so. Decide what your goal is in accomplishing this switch. Do you want to save money on energy bills? Increase productivity? If so, a switch could work for your company. But there are some risks involved. Carefully think through your goals and plan accordingly before you make the first step.

  • Talk to your employees. After you’ve weighed the pros and cons of changing your work schedule, you should talk to your employees before you make any move. While some employees will focus on a three-day weekend, they may not pay much attention to the 10-hour workday and the demands of that. It means less time for running errands and can make arranging childcare tricky. It could even leave some employees physically drained. A 4/10 plan isn’t the only strategy your company can take. As I mentioned, you can always try having a half-day on Fridays, or a 9/80 schedule, in which employees work 80 hours over nine business days, giving them an extra day off every two weeks. Also, you’ll have to make sure to schedule important meetings earlier in the day, before your employees become burnt out. And encourage taking frequent breaks.
  • Think about your customers. A big problem for implementing a four-day workweek is your customers and how not to lose them. For your company, it may not be realistic to shut down the office for a whole day, so you might not end up not saving as much as you hoped. One option for making sure that your customers are taken care of five days a week is to establish a rotating schedule, with half of your employees taking Mondays off and half taking Fridays off. This will allow you to meet your customers’ demands. But you’ll need to consider which employees need to work together.
  • Accept that it’s trial and error. Implementing a new workweek isn’t a decision to jump into lightly, so you’ll need to tread carefully and accept that you’ll probably have to try a few things before finding the perfect solution. Try starting slowly and implement one four-day workweek a month. You’ll also definitely need to solicit feedback from your employees since they’ll be the most affected. Gauge how they—and your customers—are responding to the changes. You’ll also need to monitor employee productivity to make sure goals are still being met.
  • Set the right example. If you do implement a four-day workweek, then you need to set the right tone for your employees. It may be difficult for some of them to stop working on that fifth day, so you’ll have to make sure they aren’t being held accountable for their day off. This means not emailing or calling them unless there is an absolute emergency. Better yet, if you can, you should take that day off as well. You don’t want your employees to feel as though they’re slacking because the boss is still working.

If changing your work schedule isn’t right for you, maybe you can cut costs by going virtual. But if you do go with a four-day workweek, you’ll need some excellent online services to help you stay in touch with your employees, such as online fax and a virtual phone service.

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