The Pros And Cons Of Compressed Work Schedules And How To Implement Them

Working a compressed work schedule means your employees have the same number of working hours each day as usual, but they pack them into fewer days.

For example, instead of working Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, an employee might work Tuesday through Thursday from 10 to 4. There are many different ways to implement a compressed work schedule, and each one has its own pros and cons for a company.

Working shorter weeks can be great for employee morale and productivity, but only if you’re able to maintain strong output from your team. Some employees may not be able to take on increased responsibilities at home as easily as others.

If you’re concerned about employee retention or keeping staff motivated during the week, you should think twice before offering this perk. In this article, we’ll explore what is a compressed work schedule and should you offer it?

What Is A Compressed Work Schedule?

A compressed work schedule is a 9-to-5 schedule that is condensed into fewer days. This can be done in one of three ways:

  • By adding hours to each day.
  • By reducing the number of breaks each day.
  • By decreasing the number of days worked each week.

An employee on a compressed schedule might, for example, work 10 hours each day, five days a week. This schedule would be an alternative to a traditional 9-to-5 schedule, in which employees work eight hours a day, five days a week.

There are also compressed work schedules that involve working 10 hours a day, four days a week, or 9 hours a day, five days a week.

Common Types Of Compressed Work Week Schedules

  • The 9/80 Compressed Work Schedule (9 hours per day, 5 days a week)
  • The 10/80 Compressed Work Schedule (10 hours per day, 5 days a week)
  • The 9/90 Compressed Work Schedule (9 hours per day, 4 days a week)
  • The 10/90 Compressed Work Schedule (10 hours per day, 4 days a week)

While the above schedules are the most common types of compressed workweeks, there are many others. You can use a compressed work schedule as an alternative to traditional schedules, such as a 9-to-5 schedule or a 10-to-6 schedule.

You can also use compressing schedules in creative ways, such as reducing the number of breaks each day or decreasing the number of days worked each week.

The Pros Of A Compressed Work Week

Increased Productivity

When people have more time to rest and recharge, they naturally produce better work. This is especially true in knowledge-based sectors, where employees may have to put in long hours to finish projects.

Increased Employee Morale

The less time employees spend at work, the happier they will be at home. In some sectors, employees may feel pressured to put in long hours in order to get their work done.

When you switch to a compressed work schedule, you can decrease the number of hours employees are expected to work each day or week.

This gives employees more time to do what they need to do outside of work, and it can increase employee morale by reducing stress.

Increased Employee Retention

Some studies show that employees with children are more likely to quit than those without kids. These employees may be less satisfied with work-life balance due to long hours and inflexible hours.

Improved Diversity

Employees with caregiving responsibilities, such as those who are parents, may be less likely to apply for a job if they know it requires long hours. Switching to a compressed work schedule can help you attract and retain a more diverse team.

Increased Productivity For Remote Employees

If a portion of your team works remotely, you may already be struggling to balance productivity with meeting their needs for collaboration. A compressed work schedule can make it easier for you to meet the needs of remote employees.

Retaining Key Employees

If you have employees who are looking for an exit strategy, switching to a compressed work schedule may help you retain them.

Some employees may be hesitant to leave an employer due to concerns about finances. Giving them more time off can help you keep them from leaving the company.

Retaining Key Employees Who Are Parents

Some employees may be hesitant to take parental leave, even if they qualify for it. Switching to a compressed work schedule during parental leave can help you retain these employees.

The Cons Of A Compressed Work Schedule

Increased Stress

As we’ve discussed, employees who work fewer hours experience less stress. But, when you switch to a compressed work schedule, you may increase stress by putting more work on employees plates.

For example, if you have someone who works 40 hours a week, they have 10 hours to do each day. But, if you have them work 10 hours a day, they only have 5 hours to do each day.

This can put an unnecessary amount of pressure and stress on the employees. This may affect their quality of work and their satisfaction with the job.

Increased Work For Managers

When you switch to a compressed work schedule, you may increase the amount of work for your managers. For example, if you have employees who work 8 hours a day, you may have only needed one manager to oversee them. However, if you have employees who work 12 hours a day, you may need two managers.

Decreased Output On Each Day

A common concern with a compressed work schedule is that it may decrease the amount of output on each day. For example, when you have employees who work 11 hours a day, you may only get 5 hours of work out of them each day. This can lead to employees constantly falling behind on projects.

Why Do Employees Like Compressed Work Schedules?

  • More Time For Family

Employees who want to spend more time with their families may prefer a compressed work schedule. This gives them more time to spend with their loved ones outside of work, which can decrease stress and improve morale.

  • More Time For Hobbies

Employees who have hobbies they want to pursue may prefer a compressed work schedule. This gives them more time to pursue their hobbies outside of work, which can decrease stress and improve morale.

  • More Time For Education

Employees who want to earn a degree or attend courses can prefer a compressed work schedule. This gives them more time to pursue their education outside of work, which can decrease stress and improve morale.

  • Financial Needs

Employees who have financial needs, such as childcare costs and home repair projects, may prefer a compressed work schedule. This gives them more time to meet their financial obligations outside of work, which can decrease stress and improve morale.

How Can You Set Up The Compressed Work Week?

  • Set Expectations For Each Day

When you implement a compressed work schedule, you need to be very clear with employees as to how you expect them to spend their time. This can help you meet the needs of the company and employees at the same time.

  • Track Hours

Make sure that you are tracking the hours employees spend on each project. This will help you create better schedules for the future and make sure that employees are completing their work in a timely manner.

  • Create Strong Project Management Practices

If you want to see strong results when using a compressed work schedule, you need to implement strong project management practices. This includes creating strong project timelines and making sure that managers are tracking time spent on each project.

Tips For Working A Compressed Work Week

Don’t Prioritize Hours Worked Over Output

Although you may want to prioritize hours worked over output when switching to a compressed work schedule, it’s important not to do this. You want to make sure that employees are spending their time on the right tasks.

Manage Expectations For Each Day

When you manage expectations for each day, you can help employees prioritize their time. For example, if you have employees who work from 9 to 5 but they have a conference call at 4 pm, make sure that.

Conclusion

When you are on a compressed work schedule, you are likely to feel like you are working in a marathon. You will be required to squeeze more into fewer hours.

You will be required for more output for each hour of work. And, it is possible that you will have to spend extra time during the week working through the extra hours.

Of course, there are downsides to working a compressed workweek. While you may enjoy the extra time off and freedom to choose when you work and where, it can also be challenging to stay motivated when you are constantly working within a narrow time frame.

You may also miss out on certain opportunities because you don’t have time to meet with clients or watch your business grow.

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