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Four day week, way of the future?

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, September 28th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: employment - Tags:

How would you like to work  a four-day, ten-hour per day week, rather than a five-day week?

A number of organisations in the US have adopted the 4-day week to save energy costs during the recession, and it’s working so well for employers and workers that it may become permanent. A survey I saw mentioned on Fox (I was just channel-surfing, honest!) found that 7% of businesses had gone to a four day week as a cost saver. The report reckoned that, even as the recession ends, more organisations, are looking at going to the 4-day week including schools and universities.

The biggest organisation to give it a try is the Utah State public service. A report on the experiment found:

  • 13% reduction in energy costs were realised
  • 82% of workers wanted to keep the 4-day week
  • worker morale was higher and they were more productive due to less down-time at the start and end of each day
  • fewer sick days were taken (accounting for the fact that there are fewer days worked, of course). Workers are at their jobs 9% more. Paid overtime is down.
  • workers saved on commuting costs, $35o per worker in petrol costs alone per year
  • in total, carbon emissions were reduced by 12,000 tons
  • customers liked the longer hours at the DMV etc because it made it easier for them to get there outside their own work hours
  • many employees use their Friday for volunteering

So what do you reckon? Is the four-day week the way of the future?

18 comments on “Four day week, way of the future? ”

  1. So Bored 1

    Sounds good until your kindly employer sees fit to reduce the 10 hours to 8 and expects 40 hours worth of work in a reduced timeframe. Cant see it working unless your workplace has a strong and militant union to keep the employers honest.

  2. Terry 2

    Sounds pretty good! Are there any cons?

  3. Tom Semmens 3

    Hahahahahaha New Zealand bosses adopt a four day week? Why, next you’ll be expecting them to accept a 40 hour week and penal rates for overtime when we all know these are harbingers of the end of times.

  4. Jono 4

    I worked a four day week (“Four tens”) in the US for six months and really enjoyed it. It is great for field-based jobs and/or thoses where there is a lot of travel time each day eg when you are generally out of the office and not at a desk. I was working on an archaeological survey crew doing pre-/post harvest and post-fire surveys in forests and with up to an hour and a half travel time each way into project areas, it was the only way to get a decent days work done. After a few weeks, I barely noticed the extra couple of hours.

    I dont know how it would be for a desk job, but would probably suck according to temperament.

  5. BLiP 5

    Brilliant – but – get with the programme.

    National Ltd is playing a bigger game, the full extent yet to be exposed. We know a part of it’s agenda is to reduce wages. They’ve shown the lengths they will go to when bullying the public service and the private sector is beginning now to join in – one employer setting the tone by assaulting staff and ignoring a judgement from the Employment Court stating its actions are illegal. Another 18 months like this and the public service will pretty much have ground to a halt, there will be pickets at every second factory gate and . . . voila . . . snap election!

    In this climate, with so much at stake, do you seriously expect National Ltd to take its foot off the throat of Aotearoa?

    • So Bored 5.1

      Well said BliP, Theres a few people on the blog who would like to work 4 day 40 hour weeks, which all sounds good, but I have absolutely no faith that employers will not take advantage of this to reduce hours or reduce wages etc.

  6. rainman 6

    Right now even a one day week would be an improvement for me!

  7. Blue 7

    I used to do a four-day ten-hours roster and I loved it. Three whole days off a week. Could go and get stuff done that can only be done during ‘business hours’ (i.e ‘never’ if you also work ‘business hours’.)

    Didn’t even notice the extra two hours a day.

    I loved the freedom and flexibility, and it was good for the employer too because they could cover the weekends and public holidays etc. that are usually hard to staff because everyone worked no more than 2 weekend days a month.

  8. Hubby loves it and I do too.
    He has a 4 day 40 hours every three weeks and I for one wished he could have that roster every week. The four days are long but the extra day free makes more than up for it.

  9. infused 9

    The problem is, it’s very hard to do unless most companies do it. IE, running an IT firm, I can’t go 4 days unless all my clients do. Would be nice though… Haven’t had a weekend in awhile.

  10. hanknickelson 10

    In my personal experience, it was a huge success. I easily achieved more in 4x 9 hour days than I had been in a 40 hour week, However I do share some concern with those who can see the opportunity for some employers to take advantage of the situation…

  11. StephenR 11

    In this climate, with so much at stake, do you seriously expect National Ltd to take its foot off the throat of Aotearoa?

    What’s at stake with this proposal?

  12. Nick C 12

    What i like about it is that it came about as the result of a mutually beneficial agreement between the employees and the employer, as opposed to government intervention.

    These sorts of agreements always seem to work best.

    • Maynard J 12.1

      Indeed, shame that such an agreement is the exception and not the rule.

      Although, I might point out that this exception was a governmental organisation 😉

      Mind you, govt intervention rarely affects employers. They are all ‘good employers’ who already give all the benefits that regulation mandates, right? That is the line trotted out every time…

  13. jcuknz 13

    I remember when I worked a ten day fourtnight and had my RDOs together, two at the end of a roster period and two at the start of the next period. Having four days off was wonderful, first when I was building the family home and later when I went ski-ing with my family. My daughter-in-law works a three day 13hr shift and has four days off a week. People need to get out of the thinking that a 5 day 40 hour week is the be all and end all. If that guy is worth anything his customers will accept his four day week, and could well copy him. Now I have seven days off a week and its tough!

  14. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 14

    This is a great idea for all concerned. It leaves the 5th day as a great option day instead of going to work, such as:
    1. Take the day off.
    2. Do DIY
    3. Child minding
    4. Work another job for extra income, and you still get the week end off.
    5. Develop your career further by going to Uni etc.

    I have always thought this was a good idea since I worked in a factory from 1985-9 while I was at Uni & full time.

    Both employer & worker wins in my opinion.

  15. Rex Widerstrom 15

    Great, but better yet the government could just about meet our ETS targets by offering an incentive (via taxation) to employers who let their workers telecommute. The floor upon floor of public service drones populating most of Wellington could be sent home to stay there, hooked up by broadband. So could the administration, HR and marketing departments of most businesses.

    In fact any business not involved in physically making something, or storing and transporting goods, could be told to send it’s workers home to manage their own time. Want to play with the kids when they get home from school? Fine, just work a few hours this evening to ensure the campaign material is emailed through by the deadline.

    Government departments and firms could maintain a much smaller headquarters with meeting rooms for those times when people absolutely had to be together in one place, and “hot desk” offices for client meetings which couldn’t take place online.

    I’ve been telecommuting for the past five years and wouldn’t swap it for twice the income sitting in a suit in an office versus sitting here in my home office wearing… well, you don’t want to know, trust me.

    And if I’m ever offered a contract which the employer thinks requires me to sit in their office to complete the work, the first thing I do is say I charge for travel. Then I use that to negotiate hours like, say, 10.00 am till 7.00 pm so I can travel to and from that office down uncluttered motorways, saving time, fuel and — most importantly — my blood pressure through not having to go hoarse telling idiots how to merge and what that little stick on their steering wheel is for.

  16. Trevor Mallard 16

    Kiwirail workshops Woburn and Hillside run 4 x 10. Seems to work well for them.

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