Different Work Schedules to Improve Your Business
Recently, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, made headlines for suggesting that businesses in the country adopt a four-day work week. Her suggestion comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced or entirely halted global and national tourism. In theory, a shorter week provides workers with more leisure time for things like travel, and can help stimulate the economy. Although Ardern’s call for a change to the typical work schedule is the most recent, businesses around the world have been toying with different schedules for years. This is a result of modern technology and changing needs. Take a look at some of the most common work schedules that companies are implementing, and whether or not they’re right for your organization:
A compressed schedule is one in which employees shorten the week by working the same number of hours but in fewer days. For example, in your normal schedule, you may work eight hours a day for five days a week. With a compressed schedule, you would instead have a 10-hour shift four days a week, in exchange for an extra day off. These work schedules are popular for businesses who want to reward employees but are unwilling or unable to have employees completing less hours.
The pros and cons of a compressed schedule include:
- Pro: One fewer day commuting reduces vehicle wear-and-tear and the need for gas.
- Con: Extended days may be mentally and physically draining for some employees.
- Pro: A full day off as a result of a compressed week can improve work-life balance and gives more time for rest and relaxation.
- Con: Although an extra day off can help balance this con, after-work activities on longer days may become difficult to complete.
- Pro: Some employees find the longer hours allow them to complete more tasks uninterrupted.
- Con: Childcare, doctor’s appointments, and other routine needs may be harder to accomplish because a compressed schedule doesn’t often match with the hours worked by other organizations.
Work-From-Home Work Schedules
This type of schedule allows employees to conduct their tasks from a home office, without the need to commute to a physical office location. Currently, working from home has become a necessity for many, as a result of COVID-19. Thanks to improving technologies around the world, many businesses are considering keeping this policy in place even once returning to the office is safe.
Here are just a few pros and cons of adopting work schedules from the home:
- Pro: This type of schedule allows greater ease for scheduling important appointments and running necessary errands.
- Con: Work and leisure time may easily blend together, leading to increased stress.
- Pro: Because commuting is no longer necessary, costs of gas and time are lowered.
- Con: At the outset, some employees or employers may need to spend money on improved equipment (better computers, ergonomic equipment, etc.) to make working from home a consistent possibility.
- Pro: Many employees find working from home helps increase productivity. There are no other people to interrupt them, and workers can move around at will if drowsiness starts to set in.
- Con: Because communication with coworkers is no longer in person, misreading cues is more common, which can lead to unpleasant or embarrassing situations.
Another popular choice for businesses looking into alternative work schedules is the “shortened” week. In this case, employees work fewer hours, but still earn the same weekly salary. For example, if employees make $500 a week working 40 hours, they would continue making $500 a week, but in only 32 hours. Some organizations implement this schedule by shortening the work day (ie. five work days but only six hours each), or by shortening the work week (ie. going from five work days to four). Although many workers may prefer this option, it’s somewhat less popular with employers. This is because they feel as though they’re paying more money for less work, despite many small studies indicating that productivity actually increases with this schedule.
These are a number of the pros and cons of a shortened week schedule:
- Pro: Employees reported increased productivity because they have less time to do non-work tasks. This has led to more efficient use of time overall.
- Con: This schedule isn’t conducive to all industries. For example, industries that require 24/7 care have to hire more workers which leads to increased costs.
- Pro: Because this option leads to better work-life balance, employees frequently feel happier and healthier, and report greater job satisfaction. This leads to fewer sick days and sometimes even fewer vacation days taken.
- Con: Some jobs simply can’t be done in less time. By trying to cram an already tight workload into a shorter period of time, this may lead to overwork and increased stress.
- Pro: Societal benefits are common when entire townships introduce this type of schedule. For example, a shorter week may result in less commuters on the road, thus reducing emissions. In addition, if a business can hire more employees to fill a 24/7 schedule, they help reduce unemployment.
- Con: It may become harder to get ahold of employees regarding important projects, if that employee has the day off. In addition, some employers may continue communicating with employees outside of work hours, during unpaid time. As a result, the employee must still work but can technically be denied pay.
Industries are not one-size-fits-all, nor are employees. Knowing this, many businesses are choosing to use a mixed schedule. This method blends the previously discussed options into a tailored solution for the business implementing it. For example, a business may choose to keep hours the same, but allow employees one day a week to work from home. This introduces some flexibility into the schedule but isn’t as drastic a step as moving to a permanent work-from-home system.
Here are the pros and cons of mixed schedules:
- Pro: This is an easy way to test out a new schedule before making it permanent.
- Con: Implementation may take trial and error before it runs smoothly.
- Pro: Flexibility on the side of the employer and employees can make for a more harmonious workplace.
- Con: Depending on how this schedule is implemented, employees may work differing hours. This can make it hard to maintain contact in a timely manner.
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