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Employers are constantly seeking new methods to increase employee productivity and limit burnout. Fortunately, the 4/10 schedule has helped many teams find a healthy work-life balance.
If your team is feeling fatigued by the monotony of the typical five-day workweek, the 4/10 schedule can help. This alternative to the standard office schedule allows teams to power through their work with four-day workweeks.
The goal? Provide teams with more days off without compromising productivity.
The 4/10 schedule is a compressed work schedule type where employees work four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour days.
Although employees are still working a 40-hour week, this schedule differs from the standard workweek of that they only work for four days in every seven-day week period.
For two weeks, employees clock in for 80 total hours. Because they are still qualified as full-time employees, workers on the 4/10 schedule receive the same benefits and pay as if they worked a typical work schedule.
Although employees on this schedule do have longer workdays, the shorter 4-day work week rewards them with three consecutive days off.
The additional day off can be used for resting and relaxation or catching up on personal tasks. The idea is that employees will be completely focused and more productive on the days they are in the office.
An alternative work schedule is any schedule that varies from the typical workweek format. This includes various flex schedules, the 2-2-3 method, the DuPont schedule, etc.
Ever since the rise in work-from-home employment, workers have noticed their work and personal lives blending together more than ever before. As a result, companies have quickly transitioned to the 4/10 schedule and other more modern techniques.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common alternative work schedules:
Compressed work schedules are still fixed schedules. However, employees on this work schedule work fewer than five days in one workweek while still putting in a full 40 hours per week. It also allows them to complete 80 hours of work in less than ten working days.
Flexible policies allow employees to create their own schedules. Some employers may allow their team to shift their start and stop times a few hours in either direction. Others have given employees full autonomy to work asynchronously.
Here are a few examples that fall somewhere in between:
Like other alternative scheduling methods, the 9/80 schedule follows a two-week cycle:
During the first workweek, the employee works nine hours per day for four days before a slightly shorter eight-hour shift on the fifth day.
During the second week, the employee will have a four-day workweek of nine hours a day and have their fifth day of the week off.
The 9/80 method is a step towards a permanent four-day workweek. Companies like Kickstarter, Panasonic, and thredUP have already made the switch for better work-life balance.
The 3/12 work schedule is more extreme than some on our list. Employees on this schedule actually work less than 40 hours per week.
Luckily, in most U.S. states, an employee only needs to log at least 35 hours to be considered a full-time employee. With a three-day workweek comprised of 12-hour shifts, employees qualify with a 36-hour workweek. Health care professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers use this schedule.
This work schedule type is most commonly used by healthcare professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement.
The best way to utilize the 4/10 work schedule varies depending on the company and employee. Start and end times of weekly shifts are different for every business, but employees will always work some combination of four 10-hour days each week.
Another important thing to remember is that there is room for flexibility.
For example, some employees might want to break up their four-day week by taking a day off in the middle. This alternate approach to the 4/10 schedule leaves plenty of room for running errands, spending time with family, or relaxing.
Regardless of the days of the week worked, employees will contribute a consistent number of hours in a seven-day cycle. An example of a commonly used 4/10 schedule is pictured below:
A 4/10 work schedule provides employers and employees with unique benefits not seen in a typical 9-5 structure. Let's take a look at a few of the perks to this schedule:
With a 4/10 work schedule, employees benefit from an additional day off that can be used to rest and rejuvenate before returning to work. This free time gives them a chance to take care of personal matters outside of work to focus entirely on their responsibilities when on the clock.
Since employees are in the office for fewer days, companies have found their productivity and performance drastically increased.
The idea is that an extra day home can be used for running errands, spending time with family, or decompressing. Once employees return to work, they're well-rested and ready to take on their responsibilities.
Ultimately, 60% of organizations using the four-day workweek increased employee satisfaction and productivity.
The modern workforce tends to prefer flexible schedules, so getting away from the typical five-day structure helps with retention. 80% of employees confirmed they'd be more loyal to their respective companies if given scheduling freedom.
Prospective hires will also find the schedule appealing. For example, if a potential employee is weighing other options, your flexible hours may be the deciding factor.
With extra time off, employees tend to have fewer absences. The most obvious reason is that an extra day provides time outside work hours for appointments and personal meetings. This proactive approach to mental and physical health can limit long-term fatigue, sickness, and burnout.
When employees work less, they also commute less.
Depending on where the employee lives, this extra day off can often decrease an individual’s weekly commute time by well over an hour. This saves employees time and money while limiting their emissions and helping the planet.
Like any scheduling method, the 4/10 work schedule has potential drawbacks for employers and employees. Here are a few of the most notable disadvantages:
Since office work traditionally favors a 9-5 schedule, switching to the 4/10 schedule can feel pretty drastic. Adjusting to a new schedule may take some time and many new employees may experience exhaustion as they adjust to their new hours.
Since most employees are used to working eight-hour days, they may even experience fatigue on the job too.
Although this four-day structure is ideal for some companies, it is not the correct fit for all.
Depending on the industry, the customers may follow a traditional Monday through Friday, 9-5 schedule that does not align with a 4/10 work schedule. If you choose to make the switch to 4/10, it can be challenging to meet customer needs.
Some industries also demand 24-hour coverage, in which case this schedule would not provide sufficient employee coverage.
While the 4/10 schedule aims to help with work-life balance, it can actually do more harm than good.
For example, schools, daycare, and pet care centers commonly use a 9-5 schedule. While employees will enjoy spending more time with their families on the weekend, working late can be a logistical nightmare during the week.
A lot of employees favor the 4/10 schedule structure because of the increased time off — but that doesn’t mean every employee will be pleased to hear about the switch.
With any scheduling change, it’s important to gauge your employees’ interests. Seek out input along the way and allow your team to voice their comments, questions, and concerns.
Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of the 4/10 scheduling method and make a decision based on your industry and personnel.
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