What is a Compressed Work Schedule? | Pros and Cons

A 40-hour workweek is compressed into fewer days, usually four instead of five, in a compressed work schedule.

When high workload periods occur in a company, compressed workweek arrangements can provide a simple solution for balancing the workload.

Employees on a compressed work schedule can complete a full 40-hour week in fewer days than those on a five-day schedule.

A shorter workweek can boost productivity while also providing employees with more personal time. Its implementation differs from one company to the next, and even from one department to the next.

Attracting and retaining top talent is a top priority for small business owners in every industry. While competitive wages, excellent benefits, and adequate vacation time are all important, such features are widely regarded as the most important for high-demand employees.

In this post, we’ll look at the compressed workweek, also known as the compressed schedule, as well as its structure, benefits, and drawbacks.

What Is A Compressed Work Schedule?

A compressed work schedule is one in which employees work a full-time schedule (equivalent to 80 hours over two weeks) but in fewer than five days (or an otherwise nontraditional arrangement).

Employees still work 40 hours per week, but instead of eight hours per day Monday through Friday, they may work 10 hours per day for a total of four days per week, with an extra day “off” during the week.

When implementing a flexible work policy, one option is to have a compressed workweek. It enables employees to work full-time hours (40 hours per week) over a shorter period of time.

This enables employees to work longer hours on some days while still accruing enough time for an extra day off. The main idea behind the compressed workweek is to give employees an extra day off, but it can also be beneficial for businesses juggling heavy workloads.

Is A Compressed Workweek Right For You?

If a compressed workweek is right for you, it will be determined by your role, working style, lifestyle, and the type of compressed workweek you intend to use.

Working in customer service or a similar queue-based role during a compressed week can be difficult (but not impossible), as many service level agreements assume consistent staffing throughout the week.

Similarly, if you’re a manager who needs to sign off on work or be available in real-time, switching to a four-day workweek is more difficult. Especially if the rest of the organization isn’t on board.

As a general rule, the less your output is tied to hours and the better you are at asynchronous communication, the more likely a compressed workweek will be appropriate for you.

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Even if you currently work in one of these roles, switching is not impossible. Aside from role-specific issues, it’s also important to consider how you prefer to work.

Working four 10-hour days per week means working longer hours and having less personal time on those days, despite the extra day off.

Common Types of Compressed Workweek Schedules

The 4/8 schedule

Employees on the 4/8 work schedule, also known as the four-day workweek, work four eight-hour days per week. That’s eight hours less than the typical 40-hour week for most people.

This may appear to be a significant change in how we work, but there is substantial evidence to support it.

According to a 2014 Stanford University study, productivity drops after 50 hours of work. Other experts believe that 35 hours of work per week is the ideal amount of time to work before productivity begins to decline.

This model works so well that many companies that have implemented it have seen no decrease in productivity and have continued to pay employees the same salary and benefits as before the switch.

You can read this: How to Do 60-Hour Work Weekly Without Burning Out

The 4/10 Schedule

Employees on the 4/10 work schedule work ten hours per day, four days per week. This means that employees work the same 40 hours per week.

This arrangement is appropriate for businesses that want to provide three-day weekends without reducing the required weekly hours.

The 9/80 Timetable

In a 2-week period, the 9/80 work schedule consists of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off.

Employees typically work an extra hour four days per week (e.g., four 9-hour days), followed by an 8-hour workday divided into two 4-hour periods, and then have the following Friday off.

Three 12-hour Days

Some professions define full-time as 36 hours rather than 40, and many of these professions, such as nursing or firefighting, require 24-hour coverage.

To reduce the number of shifts per day, these companies use a compressed work schedule in which employees work three 12-hour days and then take four days off to recover.

What to Consider When Implementing a Compressed Workweek?

When developing your flexible work policy, you should definitely consider the compressed workweek. A shortened schedule is extremely beneficial to both parties.

It provides employees with larger blocks of time off while also extending the company’s operational hours. Some of the things you should think about and do are as follows:

  • To avoid understaffing and scheduling issues, establish the core office hours during which employees must be present at the office.
  • Allow enough breaks for your employees to stay focused and motivated.
  • Select a tool for tracking employee attendance to keep track of total hours worked and overtime.

Other things to think about when implementing a compressed workweek:

  • Is the workload on the extra-long days still manageable?
  • On off days, can employees cover each other’s work?
  • Will there be any problems meeting customer expectations?
  • Is a compressed workweek the best option for each individual employee?
  • Will there be any issues with staff meetings that require everyone to be present?
  • Will there be any issues as a result of fewer interactions among employees?
  • Will the organization’s productivity increase or decrease?
  • You must also be careful not to exceed the legal limit of how many hours an employee can work per week when establishing the compressed workweek rules. Different countries have different daily maximums, but they are typically in the 9 – 13-hour range.
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How to Set Compressed Work Week in All Hours

1. To define the Monday to Thursday compressed workweek, set the ‘Shift Plan’ rule to 10 hours from Monday to Thursday and 0 hours on Friday.

2. For each day, set the ‘Shift Start’ to 8 a.m. The rules outlined below will be enforced at the start of the shift.

3. Configure the ‘Required Time’ rule to specify when the employee must be present at the office. This is for 10 hours per day, Monday through Thursday, beginning at 8:00 a.m.

4. Define the ‘Paid Time’ rule to specify when worked hours will be counted as paid time. In this case, this is from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, for a total of ten hours on each of these days.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Compressed Work Schedules?

A compressed workweek has significant impacts on both work-life balance and how the office is run. Here are some pros and cons you should keep in mind:

Pros of Compressed Work Schedules

  • More time to yourself. A compressed workweek, whether on a 4/10 or 9/80 schedule, allows employees to take more time off to recharge.
  • There are fewer absences. Employees are less likely to take time off from work to run errands or attend to personal matters because they have more free time.
  • Increased service hours. If your company has a customer service department, providing extended support hours through a compressed work schedule can be advantageous to customers who want to contact you after 5 p.m.
  • Reduced commuting time. Depending on how far your employees live from the office, some can cut hours (and save money) by coming in less frequently.

Cons of Compressed Work Schedules

  • Worker exhaustion A compressed work schedule, depending on the industry and job, may exhaust employees.
  • Schedules that are incompatible Other business partners, clients, or contractors who work a traditional 9-to-5, Monday-Friday schedule may be out of sync with yours.
  • Overtime is not authorized. Even if they work the same number of hours, your employees may be eligible for a different compensation schedule if not carefully monitored. Check your state’s overtime regulations to ensure you’re not breaking any laws.
  • It may not be suitable for everyone. While you may prefer (or your employees may prefer) a compressed work schedule, it may not be entirely practical for everyone. For example, some child care providers operate on a traditional 9-to-5 schedule, which may make it difficult or costly for your employees to find child care.

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Tips for Implementing a Compressed Workweek Schedule

  • Think about the law. Your city or state may have laws limiting the number of hours an employee can work in a given period of time. Before implementing a new schedule, always check with your state labor office to ensure you’re in compliance.
  • Establish core office hours. When implementing a compressed workweek, some businesses face staffing challenges. Make sure to carefully schedule employees to ensure adequate coverage at the office.
  • Inquire with your employees about their preferences. A new arrangement has the potential to have a significant impact on your employees. What is effective for one employee may not be effective for another. Inquire with employees about what works best for them.
  • Change as needed. Your policy on compressed work schedules should not be set in stone. As your employees and managers get into a routine, you’ll notice gaps that need to be filled. Solicit feedback from your employees on a regular basis and put their suggestions into action.
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FAQs On Compressed Work Schedule

What are the benefits of a shorter workweek?

Employees who work compressed work weeks have more time outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities, allowing them to be more focused on the tasks at hand during their scheduled work time.

What are the benefits of compressed hours?

Employees on a compressed work schedule can complete a full 40-hour week in fewer days than those on a five-day schedule.

A shorter workweek can boost productivity while also providing employees with more personal time. Implementation differs from one company to the next, and even from one department to the next.

What is the most efficient work schedule?

Furthermore, studies show that companies that impose daily working hours on their employees are less productive.

Finally, scientists generally agree that the ideal daily working time is around 6 hours, with the morning being more concentrated.

Do compressed work hours work?

Employees who work compressed hours complete their total contracted hours over fewer working days. A full-time employee, for example, could work 36.5 hours spread over 4.5 days or a 9-day fortnight rather than 5 days.

Are 10-hour shifts safe?

Working 10-hour shifts on a regular basis, on the other hand, has some drawbacks.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, working longer days and hours can result in fatigue in the workplace and an increase in stress levels

Can you work for ten hours a day?

Employees may work a regular workweek of no more than 48 hours. Employees must be paid at least one and one-half their regular rate of pay for any hours worked in excess of 10 per workday or 48 per workweek.


Companies considering flexible schedules, such as compressed workweeks, should weigh all of the benefits and drawbacks before enacting new policies.

Although shorter workweeks have advantages, experience has shown that they also have a number of disadvantages.

Understanding and anticipating these issues enables each employer to determine whether four-day weeks are appropriate and to plan for any challenges ahead of time.



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