There are many ways that rush hour road congestion can be lessened, and one of those is for businesses to utilize Compressed Work Weeks, allowing their employees to work more hours per day on fewer days per week. This type of scheduling is typical in the healthcare, manufacturing, and information-based industries, but it could often be utilized more widely with a little bit of planning.
Compressed Work Weeks began to be used in the 1940’s by oil companies with high start-up costs. It helped them to save money on capital items such as trucks and heavy equipment. In 1970, a study found that only 27 firms in the U.S. offered compressed workweeks; however, 35 years later, a 2005 survey of private and nonprofit organizations found 49% of companies allowed some employees to work a compressed workweek for at least part of the year. (Analysis of Alternative Work Schedules, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, August 2010)
Compressed work weeks are one of several alternative work arrangements that studies show have a positive effect on job satisfaction, productivity, recruitment, turnover, overtime costs, and also reduce absenteeism. The only negative trend found is that employees report being more fatigued when working longer days. Examples of compressed schedules include:
- 4/40 – Employees work four 10-hour days and take the fifth day off.
- 9/80 – Employees work eight nine-hour days, one eight hour day, and take the tenth day off.
- 3/36 – Employees work three twelve hour days and have off four days a week – Most often in hospitals and health settings.
The reason that the transportation demand management arena encourages businesses to adopt compressed work weeks, telework, and other options when possible is that these allow employees to avoid driving during peak rush hours, thereby easing traffic congestion considerably.
Of course, not every job is suited to an alternative work schedule. Businesses need to develop a written policy which incorporates eligibility criteria, restrictions, monitoring, and procedures to participate. Decisions for approving flexible or compressed work schedules should be based on organizational needs, not personal needs, and it is suggested that objective criteria, such as seniority, special skills, or specific office needs may serve to resolve conflicts.
Business leaders and supervisors often fear that everyone will want to take Fridays off and wonder how they can keep their business running without anyone there on Fridays; however, organizations with experience with compressed work week programs report that this problem rarely arises, even though it’s assumed that it will be a serious problem! It is also important to note that these schedules are not an across the board benefit for employees. Managers and supervisors best know their operations and are responsible for final decisions on how work will be best accomplished. It can not be assumed that the same decision regarding compressed work weeks is necessarily appropriate for two similar positions. As long as policy is well written and understood, a company can rest assured that their bases are covered.
More information and assistance with developing policies and launching alternative work schedules is available FREE OF CHARGE from Employer Connections, a division of TransIT Services of Frederick County. Call (240) 397-6044 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org