Is the 4-Day Workweek The Answer to $4-Gas?

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on June 11, 2008

Gas Pump Picture.jpg

Recently I wrote a story about how $4 gas was finally breaking workers’ petroleum addiction.

That, and our upcoming summer double issue on balancing work and life, got me thinking about the four-day work week. Petrol is so pricey that companies are now having to shell out just to get their people cube side.

Free bus passes, shuttle service and work-from-home policies are also in vogue.

HERE’S AN ALTERNATIVE: why not kick off a four-day workweek for the summer? Or, do four-day workweek lite and call it Fridays Away, where anybody can work anyhwere on Fridays?

This would give face-time-obsessed clockwatching bosses a way to take micro steps towards letting their people go.

Come on. You know you want to.

Reader Comments

Chris

June 12, 2008 2:56 PM

I would prefer to work 4 days and then off 3. We as a society work enough as is and do not have enough time to enjoy family time needed to build a healthy relationship or just some down time to not be so stressed out. We need to SLOW DOWN in Life and enjoy it. Also, if society would just SLOW down in there driving and not going 70+ mph and hour we would save millions of gallons a year and cut down on pollution.
If everyone was to SLOW DOWN in life the world would be a better place.

Mary Jones

June 12, 2008 8:01 PM

I would absolutely love to work 4 days a week as long as the 3 days off included weekends. And I would be happy to work longer days to make up the difference in hours. Not only would it save on gas, it would save on work-related burnout. Not to mention the 3 day weekends would be terrific.

Robert

June 13, 2008 1:30 AM

A group of us where I work are trying to get management to at least try this for one month. It's like moving an iceberg. I've never seen so much resistance in all my life. You'd think we were stealing company secrets.

I think it comes down to companies who are willing to take risks versus those who want their employees to sacrifice for everything. Our company is good at claiming "we are family friendly!" and "best place to work!" but the reality is anyone can buy a "ranking" in a magazine and anyone can "talk the talk". When it comes time to "walk the walk" you see a whole other side.

B. Smith, HR

June 16, 2008 3:15 PM

Our Company is a leading manufacturer of modular homes. The housing market slump has hit our industry hard. Despite the many sacrifices our employees made such as struggling financially due to reduced hours and working partial weeks, the majority managed to hang on and stick by us through this slow time however, we lost a few good people who took jobs closer to home. We remain optimistic due to the quality of our homes, our wonderful builder network, and continued employee loyalty. Our work force, most of who drives at least 30 minutes one way, was facing the next challenge.... How can we afford to drive to work at 4.09 a gallon? Management listened..... We easily revamped the plant schedule, modified the staffing requirements, and are now working 4 - 10 hour days until further notice. This schedule is wonderful. Our employees love it. We have a 3 day weekend. (This seems to be everyone’s favorite part). We reduced the travel to work expense by one day. (This is a big deal at 4.09 per gallon) Employee morale seems to be up (because they have that extra day to look forward to AND are saving money on gas). Some employees also cut child care costs. Our plant operating expenses were cut by one day which is a HUGE company savings. A true win situation - all the way around.

At first the 10 hour days were a little difficult but everyone quickly adapted. Overtime decreased as well. It’s amazing to see how productive everyone is when they want that long weekend.

When you come in to work on Monday and can look down the road to Thursday.... with a 3 day weekend to follow.... It’s just better than you can imagine. Saving gas (and child care) on that day off is like a bonus!

Robert Alderman, Master Certified Coach

June 20, 2008 1:14 AM

The four day work week is probably not an easy sale to the rigid and fearful mentality of corporate managers. What companies need is to comprehend that the people LOVE this schedule, embrace it, rejoice in it, brag about it and become internal screaming fans of the organization. Do you know another way of creating this synergy? I say to a company that will not experiment, perhaps you can just continiue to get better and better doing all the things you are now doing and one day you will be absolutely the best at doing all the things that no longer work.
Creativity, experimentation and risk are like oxygen. Without them your company will suffocate and die.

Della Rowley

July 1, 2008 4:01 PM

Has anyone actually done a cost analysis on this? Sumner County is looking for that information. We believe it would save money, but we need something to support that belief.

Colin

July 3, 2008 11:38 AM

I agree a cost analysis would be great especially if from a reputable company, i.e. raytheon or such.
It does take a bit of data to turn any manager into the proper direction.

Post a comment

 

About

How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!