Is a Compressed Work Week Your Solution to Getting More Time Off?

Working a compressed week means you are putting in 40 hours of time on the job in four days instead of the usual five.  Employees that have made this full-time but flexible work option a reality enjoy a glorious three-day weekend every week.  This working style is not possible for all job types or industries, so first take the time to consider what you would do with every Friday (or alternatively Monday or Wednesday) off.  Can you can handle all your job responsibilities in four extra long days (say 10 hours or longer) each week and still meet or exceed expectations and have a successful career?

Weekly Time Sheet - Compressed with Friday Off?

Why a Four-Day Work Week?

I’m sure that many of you have heard of the bestselling Four-Hour Workweek book from Timothy Ferriss and while it is an aspirational approach to the work-life grind, a four-DAY workweek is a more realistic opportunity for the majority of the population that has a full-time job and a family to support.  Before you tell yourself that your boss will never go for a four-day work week, your first task is to think of the ways in which you would take advantage of an extra day off every week.  How would you spend this newfound time on travel, family, or enrichment that would make this flexible schedule worth pursuing?  Do you have a passion which is more feasible over a three-day weekend such as trekking to a home in the mountains or one that can only be pursued on a business day such as taking Italian cooking classes?

Let’s be clear that a four-day work week is not for people that prefer to spread their deliverables over five days, each with their own ups and downs.  Some days are crazy and others more relaxed and you may not want the added stress of a longer day at the office.  A typical 8 or 9 hour work day also means you have the ability to run errands any day of the week and be likely to arrive home in time for dinner each night.  Take out a weekly planner and sketch out a compressed work week to compare it with your current work and home reality.  Try your best to predict its effect on your co-workers and your family as well as on your own happiness in life.

Negotiating for a Compressed Work Week

Negotiating for Flex TimeYou may be lucky and your company already has HR policies in place to cover flexible work options such as a compressed work week, where you can earn every Friday or every other Friday off by working extra hours.  For the rest of us, the next action is to come up with a written plan and negotiate for it.  There are many articles and examples on the Web that explain how to document a business case and talk to your manager one-on-one to present your proposal.   The approach is the same regardless of whether you are negotiating a job offer, promotion, or new assignment.  Focus on the following benefits to make your case and get the go ahead to be that person who is fortunate to work a compressed week:

  • Prove with examples, metrics, and performance appraisals that you are an above average employee who consistently gets their work done and can be relied upon by co-workers and customers to meet their deadlines.
  • Show your commitment by summarizing your job history and how you have been flexible when it comes to meeting the changing goals of the organization.  You are simply asking for the organization to also respond to your own changing goals.
  • Explain how with Fridays off to pursue your outside interests you will be more focused, more motivated, and more productive during the four days you are in the office, and still outperform your peers.
  • Ask for a a trial period, where you work a compressed week for 4 weeks in a row, after which you sit down with your manager to evaluate the results and decide to continue or cancel the flexible work arrangement.
  • Offer some flexibility in exchange such as taking Monday or Wednesday off when asked in addition to sharing your contact details and being available on an emergency basis in the unlikely event that you are needed on your day off.

Take a Chance for Time Off Every Week

A compressed work week is not for everyone, as it requires discipline to work hard without life and social distractions for four days straight in order to get three days off in a row.  That means you probably can’t take a long lunch or leave early when you have had a stressful day or if you have plans to attend an event that evening.  Eliminating unnecessary meetings and cutting down on the office gossip is a tremendous help to stay on target.

The key is there must be a fit with the daily responsibilities of your job and your goals for taking more time off to enjoy life the fullest.  Some people prefer to work Monday to Friday with some built-in flexibility to handle personal stuff such as picking up the kids, shopping, or meeting friends for lunch.  If you are the kind of person who can’t wait for the next three day holiday weekend to engage in your favorite activity, go after a compressed work week and make your dreams a reality.

Happy Traveling…