Working compressed hours

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 8 May 2023

Working compressed hours

The 4-day workweek has been a hot topic for a while now, but the question is, how would this work and what could this change do for you?

Over the last few years, more and more individuals have been looking for companies and jobs that are able to provide them a more flexible and reliable working environment. There are pros and cons to the 4-day workweek, but how could you make this potential new way of working work for you?

What does a 4-day week mean?

Flexible working can entail a range of different benefits. From being able to work from home to reduced hours and depending on your employer, you may be able to request flexible working. Do make sure you get in touch with your company's HR representative before making any arrangements. 

A 4-day workweek is exactly what it says on the tin. Your typical workweek would go from the standard 5 days to 4 working days. However, this can mean different things, depending on company policy. The goal of this is to ensure that employees are well looked after, can find the right work-life balance for them and be able to have this benefit without losing any pay benefits. Some employers may offer reduced hours in those 4 days, others may offer an extra day off in exchange for longer working hours - known as compressed hours. This is still something that’s on trial in the UK, so your employer may not be taking part. (Just yet!)

Compressed hours

As mentioned above, there could be a variety of different ideas behind the 4-day workweek. Compressed hours are a version of this - where you work for 4 days a week but are fulfilling the original number of hours agreed in your contract. This means taking those 7-8 hours you’d typically work on the 5th day of the week and spreading them across the other 4. Leaving you with slightly longer days, but the outcome can be a healthier balance. 

This could be a positive outcome for both employees and employers but if this is on offer, ensure you know all the information before making any decisions. 

How could this work for you?

If this is something that has been or may be offered to you from your employer, it’s good to understand both the advantages and disadvantages before making any choices.

Improved work-life balance - No matter our jobs or hours, we all work hard and put a lot of effort and energy into our day jobs. But what about the rest of the time? Sometimes, although we enjoy it, work can leave us feeling drained at the end of the days and weeks. Sometimes, not giving us enough time to switch off and start again. For others, there are other life priorities that may get in the way and with a little more time given, finding a better balance can help make those days just a little easier for some. 

Increased productivity - According to the New York Times, being able to have an extra paid day off every week, gave employees the opportunity to spend more time with their families, take part in their hobbies and have time to properly rest. This resulted in better productivity in the workplace. 

Equal workplace - There are more and more opportunities for people to work part-time and take part in schemes such as job shares. However, there can still be a gap in progress between these individuals and others that have the opportunity to work full-time. The 4-day workweek can allow some colleagues to be able to take care of their other priorities and work these hours. Helping to bridge the gap between these two scenarios. Allowing everyone to grow a bit more equally within the workplace. 

Time to reflect, relax and recharge - Not everyone is able to spend the weekend relaxing and taking part in hobby related activities. Some have people depending on their time and other commitments that may stop them making the most of time for themselves. Adding an extra day into the mix can allow people to do the things they need to do, whilst taking a bit of time for themselves as well. It’s amazing what better rest can do for both an individual and a company. Not only increased productivity but happy employees can lead to many more achievements. 

We have our best ideas when rested! - When we feel overworked, tested or just tired of everything life is throwing at us right now, we aren’t able to give our best. This isn’t because we don’t want to, but tiredness can lead to a lack of creativity. When you’re well rested, creativity has the opportunity to flow, and you can develop and grow your ideas. 

There can be disadvantages - Depending on whether your company wants to introduce a 4-day workweek with reduced hours or compressed hours, you will still need to find the time to complete 5 days’ worth of work in 4. This can be possible though! Research shows that employees are usually only productive for 3 hours a day - probably because of the sheer number of distractions that come about in a typical workday!

It could also require additional support from other colleagues and isn’t able to apply to every single profession. Something for employers to think about! But could it work for you?

Depending on your job and your colleague benefits, a 4-day workweek may be in your future. This is something that’s been spoken about for a while and with the UK workforce taking part in trials is just the beginning. It could be an opportunity available to us sooner than we think, but is it something you’d be interested in? Being able to take that extra time to explore a new venture, relax or just do everyday tasks that leave us with more worry than we like. There are benefits to both employers and employees, so hopefully the gift of a little extra time will be something we look for in future job searches.