405.627.6326 matt@whyhr.guru

The idea of a four-day work week is making a comeback for some employers, and it’s a common topic of conversation with our clients. The thought of one less day of work per week might seem appealing, but it must be done in a way that makes sense for both the employer and the employees.

When we talk to companies who’ve attempted a four-day work week in the past, most say it largely failed. Though there were some successes, many businesses found that switching to four, 10-hour days proved more challenging than initially anticipated. The key to successful use of a shortened work week is considering the needs of all stakeholders and a willingness to think creatively about what it may look like.

Know the needs of your business and customers

Some businesses can adapt to flexible work weeks far easier than others. The nature of service-based companies often requires that someone be available to support clients during standard business hours Monday through Friday. Closing the business entirely for one day each week causes problems for clients who need requests processed, questions answered, and services rendered.

One industry that has seen success in a four-day work week is manufacturing. These jobs are based on 40 hours a week and producing a known quantity during that time. Employees in manufacturing environments may already be used to shift work and longer days or less traditional hours.

Businesses need to consider their clients and product to see if closing for a full day each week is a practical option for them. If not, they might need to consider a flexible approach to a four-day work week. If you need staff every day to ensure availability for clients, flexible options include splitting your employees into teams and letting those teams rotate half-day Fridays or alternate days off.

Talk with employees about what they want

Employee schedules and personal needs can cause four-day work weeks to fail. Although dropping a business day each week sounds appealing, it also requires 10-hour days the rest of the week if the schedule is based on a 40-hour week. Those longer days may not be easy or even desirable for your employees due to family obligations or other commitments.

When employers proceed with 10-hour days without talking it through with employees, they often find themselves with many requests for altered schedules. Whether it’s the parent who needs to see children off to school before coming in or a pet owner whose animal needs to be taken outside, longer days can be problematic for employees. Some may even prefer to keep a traditional five-day week.

Flexibility and communication are key

Just because 10-hour days don’t work for your business or employees doesn’t mean employers need to give up on a flexible work week. There are options that might work for everyone. The best way to determine this is with an open mind and open conversation.

Maybe adding two hours to each day is too much, and closing entirely for one day a week leaves clients in a bind. Perhaps employees could add an hour or a half hour daily, which would leave them with an extra day or half day every other week. By rotating staff, clients will always have someone available. Another option is providing a flexible workday from home each week. If all other tasks are being accomplished, maybe being on call from home is sufficient to meet client and company needs.

Ultimately, there are many possibilities and ways to give your employees a little extra flexibility, but it requires knowing the needs of your employees and customers and keeping lines of communication open with employees.

If you are considering a change in your work week, reach out to WhyHR to talk through options and see what might be right for you and your employees.

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