The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek: Cons

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn August 30, 2008In: Alternative Work Schedules

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A lot of employees are big fans of the 4-day workweek. Four, ten-hour days to replace the normal 9-to-5 schedule we’ve all come know as “standard.” It’s a popular idea and it’s catching on like crazy, especially in the public sector. But there are two sides to every story, right? Earlier this week I discussed the pros, so now it’s time to look at the cons. Some of the ideas below were sent to me by readers who feel strongly that a four-day week is a bad thing. And just to show that they’re not alone, even Forbes recently ran an article called, Why the Four Day Work Week Doesn’t Work.

So, what’s not to love about a 4/10 compressed schedule?

Where should I start?

1. Decreased Productivity. Many people find it difficult to stay focused for eight hours. Adding two more hours may not result in any more work at all. Or, the work that is performed may be performed inefficiently or with errors.

2. Wrong Perspective. Author Cali Ressler says that this is the wrong approach to work. Instead of continuing to focus on the amount of time we spend doing work, she advocates that employers start to look at the results of the time we spend doing work. In a results-oriented approach, like the one she helped implement at Best Buy, how long employees is irrelevant as long as they get the work completed.

3. No Fuel Savings. Employees will still be driving on the fifth day—just not to work. Although they won’t be spending gas money on the commute, they will still have to fill the tank to run errands and make other trips that they didn’t do after their long workday.

4. Access to Child Care. Because the four-day workweek is new to many, childcare providers are not likely to change their business hours. Extended time at daycare means extended costs—often at a premium. This additional cost offsets the purported fuel savings.

5. Decreased Family Time. In reality, after a ten-hour work day, many people find that they are too tired for a family game night, or to attend a sports event. Remember, it’s not just 10 hours of work, by the time you figure in wake-up time and day-care drop-off in the morning and pick-up at night, employees will have been going strong for more than 13 hours, and that’s before anyone eats dinner. The result is a Friday packed with the errands and activities that were not accomplished after work and not much additional family time at all.

6. Decreased Morale. Long hours lead to fatigue, which leads to decreased morale. Long days spent in the office with colleagues with whom they may or may not get along can cause additional tension.

7. Day 5. When the nature of work requires employees to be accountable to clients or customers who do not work a four-day week, it may be unrealistic to think that their demands will not require attention on Fridays. Instead of a compressed schedule, employees may find that they’re working an extended schedule.

8. More Micro-Management. In order to reap the benefits of a compressed schedule, the typical workday slacking must be eliminated. Down-time for internet browsing and extra breaks have a greater impact and will require managers to become more involved on the ground level to ensure these time-wasters do not occur.

Want More on the 4-Day Work Week?

  1. Feds Take a Cue from the States and Consider the 4-Day Workweek
  2. 35 Questions You Should Ask When Drafting a Compressed Work Week Policy
  3. Positive Benefits of a Four-Day Work Week
  4. 5 Steps Toward a More Flexible Workplace
  5. Should a Four-Day Work Week Be Mandatory*
  6. It's Saturday Today in Utah: 4 Day Work Week
  7. Alternatives to the Four Day Work Week
  8. Popularity of the 4-day Week Continues to Grow
  9. Will Four-Day School Week Push the Four-Day Work Week Trend?
  10. Utah's Mandatory 4-Day Work Week Will Save the World. Sort of.
  11. Alternative Work Arrangement May Soon Become Mandatory
  12. I Hate To Say "I Told You So"–The 4-Day Workweek Is a Hot Topic
  13. How the Current Economy Could Affect the Future of Flextime
  14. New Employer & Workplace Study on Flexible Schedules