Friday, August 15, 2008

working the 4-10

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about employment, money and security. Almost everyone I know is gainfully employed which I am grateful for, still the business environment has shifted. With that shift stress occurs. Honestly, I don't pretend to follow the economy or the business environment that close. What I do follow is what I sense from those around me and that is increasing stress. Some people are busy and they seem to feel secure in their jobs but there is an undertone of stress. I sense from others that they are just hanging on. It got me thinking the other day about productivity and happiness in the work environment and I had an idea.


It is not a new idea but certainly one that is being entertained by a few large companies and universities. I was able to determine this from all my Internet research on this topic. It is the 4-10 or compressed work week. What is the 4-10 well it is something a lot of people are almost doing anyway. It is working 10 hours a day but only 4 days a week.

This week Steve and I experienced the 4-10 by default. His company gave him Wednesday off with pay in addition to the normal weekends that he already has off. Now they did not do this to get him to work the extra two hours for the other four days. It just kind of happened on its own. It was a nice gesture in appreciation of their trainers. The day was ear marked for the whole group including spouses and children. So we all went to Silver Dollar City in Branson. We attended for four hours and that was sufficient for us.

Our good friends Mike and Patti call it steal your dollar city and I have to agree with them except in our case. Silver Dollar City makes no bones about its accessibility or lack there of. Out of fairness to some of their patrons, individuals that state they are in a wheelchair full time get in free. Okay I fell off track here so back to the 4-10. I did a little research and I found out a few things I wanted to share.

Large companies like Mitsubishi Motor Corp. and Metropolitan Life have adopted this compressed work week for their employees and they are pleased with its success. What they report is that the flexibility of this type of scheduling seems to make happier more productive employees. In addition, those employees take less personal time off during their scheduled work times. They also determined that many of their employees were already working longer hours and the adjustment from an 8 hour day to a 10 hour day did not take long. Efficiency improved because employees could get in the grove of what they were doing and the extra time uninterrupted help them complete tasks. Henry Ford once said, "the harder we crowd business for time, the more efficient it becomes..." I guess these companies are finding this to be true.

This work schedule will not work for every company but there are many that are not trying it and maybe they should consider the possibility. A few additional benefits of the 4-10:

  • A potential of a 20% fuel savings per week

  • 50 to 52 extra days per year of free time

  • fewer commuter cars during rush hour

  • Personal business can be handled on scheduled weekday off

  • Additional rest and relaxation to recharge your battery


The disadvantages reported were:

  • More difficult for single parents with children

  • Daycare scheduling and after work activities become more difficult

  • Customer Service could become a problem if scheduling is not handled properly

  • Fatigue from longer work day

Employers that can offer a 4-10 work schedule should because it is basically a free benefit to their employees. Employees who desire this type of schedule would appreciate the benefit and retention of that employee is more likely. As long as there is adequate coverage for the customers, the benefits seem apparent for both employer and employee. Where there are several employees trained for the same type of work customer service coverage and scheduling would not present too much of a problem. Large work environments where job sharing is already taking place are good models for the 4-10.

What Steve and I found is that the day off in the middle of the week was great because he was able to play a little, rest a little, go back and finish out the week with greater productivity. It would be nice if we could convince his employer to consider this as a permanent schedule.

I personally would love to see this happen at my husband's company and I am curious how many others out there would like this too. Please email me your thoughts about this at k.haskell@mchsi.com . I would ask that you allow me to post your thoughts on my blog. If you want to comment and prefer not to be posted just state that in your email and I will respect your wishes. Anonymous postings are acceptable too.

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