I want my four day work week back!
May 6, 2008 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I need to make a case to higher management to move to four-day work weeks for our department. They're already sold on the "soft benefits" (less commuting, improved morale, greater efficiency), but they're concerned about having enough coverage on the weekends. What's the best way to figure out the logistics?

The department is ~50 people, split roughly evenly into three teams. Currently, we work five 8 hour days, Monday - Friday, and every four weeks we work a weekend day (we are off Friday of that week, so it still adds up to 40 hours worked). We rotate betwen Saturdays and Sundays, so for example, I worked last Sunday, and four weeks from now, I will work on Saturday. Each team needs at least one member to work on the weekend. Plus, every person needs to be here on the same day of the week so we can have a departmental meeting.

Ignoring people's personal preferences for the moment, how can I structure this? My initial instinct is to make a list of employees in an Excel sheet, with days as columns, and block off hypothetical schedules. We want everyone working Monday - Thursday or Tuesday - Friday (because no one will want to work Saturday - Tuesday) and to work a weekend day every four weeks as in the current system. Is Excel the best way to handle this?
posted by desjardins to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, if every 4 weeks you work one weekend day, there are about 12 weekend shifts each weekend, 6 on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. But now won't you also have to put 6 on the Monday or Friday vacated by the 4 day week? Or will you split with 25 Mon-Thu and 25 Tue-Fri? If the latter, then weekend coverage will be exactly the same as present with the 4-week rotation. But if the former, your 12 weekend shifts would spread over 3 days, only 4 people each, presumably problematic. You either need to go to the 25-25 split, or pull a weekend every third week, which achieves 5-6 on each of the three weekend days. Once you decide that, Excel should work fine as you suggested.
posted by beagle at 3:24 PM on May 6, 2008

Couldn't you just have

1 team work Sunday-Wed
1 team work Mon-Thurs
1 team work Wed - Sat

this gives everbody 4 days, and the entire staff is in the building on wednesday

you could then rotate the shifts on a monthly basis so everybody gets some full weekends every couple months.
posted by Mr_Chips at 3:58 PM on May 6, 2008

In answer to your question of format, excel is an excellent way to show coverage.

I assume everyone is on board with the compressed work week? I would put a few options together on a spreadsheet. Solicit feedback from a few key people in the department with this endeavor.

Send it out for a vote. Expect WAY TOO MUCH feedback. I would expect with more days off, most people will be happy no matter what.
posted by beachhead2 at 5:41 PM on May 6, 2008

By the way, at one point in my career I had to put a production shift on a 4-day, 10-hour days workweek, and they hated it. Couldn't figure it out. I would kill for 3-day weekends, but they didn't like it.

I did run into a 24/7 operation once where everyone on each of 4 shifts worked a 42 hour week -- three 12-hour days plus a 6 hour day, then 3.5 days off. They loved it. Go figure.
posted by beagle at 6:36 PM on May 6, 2008

It doesn't sound like this is something you are considering, but please don't schedule people every other day. It sounds nice in theory (every day you work, you have the next day off!) but really isn't (every day you have off, you must go to bed early so you can be up for work the next day).
posted by Juliet Banana at 4:33 AM on May 7, 2008

My work schedule uses 3 squads and throughout the year I work for four days followed by two days off. The three squads overlap to provide continuous coverage. If I was in squad two and started work on Monday, the people in squad one would be working with me on Monday and Tuesday while squad three would have Monday and Tuesday off. On my last two days I would work with squad three and squad one would have days off.
I love the schedule, it allows time off during the week which is nice and everyone gets the same share of weekend time. From a management point of view it isn't as costly as it might seem, if you worked the month of May doing the 4/2 schedule you would have 21 working days and 10 days off. If you worked May on a Monday to Friday shift with weekends of you would have worked 22 days and had 9 days off. So you are working almost as much but it only takes four days to get to your weekend.
posted by InkaLomax at 12:44 PM on May 10, 2008

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