A compressed work week is a useful flexible work arrangement that can help free up valuable time for family and life demands while minimizing workplace disruptions.
I have a friend who is a public sector lawyer with a wife and two young children. He opted for a compressed work week (CWW), in which he works nine 9-hour days over a two-week stretch and then has every other Friday off (another common type of CWWs consists of four 10-hour days with every Friday off). He still works the same number of hours, essentially banking one extra hour a day and cashing these in every two weeks.
For him, this arrangement allows his family to spend long weekends at his parents', who soak up their grandkid time, and give my friend and his wife a much needed break.
It also frees up my friend to get errands done during a typical working day. Oh, the joys of daytime workday errands. You can actually get someone at Home Depot to help you without hunting 20 minutes for an employee! Parking spaces are plentiful! Lines are short! Crowds are non-existent! If you've ever been to the mall during Christmas time, you understand the clear and compelling benefits of shopping when most others are at work.
Also, my friend's family can have more relaxed "Friday family outings." Because they go during daytime weekday hours, their trips to the zoo, aquarium, children's museum and the movies involve minimal crowds and hassle-really important when corralling two pre-school age kids.
Finally, his CWW allows my friend leisure time during daytime weekday hours. He loves to relax by seeing a noon-time matinee of the latest blockbuster in an almost empty theater. (As a skier myself, I can tell you there is no better skiing than on a weekday -- all that powder just for you!)
In short, having time off when others are typically at work means my friend can get a head start on long weekends, can accomplish family-related tasks without the hassles of crowds, and can spend more relaxed time out with his family (or just by himself).
From an employer's point of view, CWWs also have the great advantage of being regularly scheduled. Because CWWs are predictable, it is easier to schedule meetings, coordinate with coworkers and communicate with clients.
In fact, the predictability of CWWs also helps allay many of the common concerns that prevent supervisors from supporting other forms of work flexibility like flextime or telecommuting.
As opposed to work-at-home or telecommuting options, employers know they are still getting full-time, in-the-office work from employees. They can more easily monitor work performance, and can avoid their overblown and largely unfounded fears that "at home work" somehow means "sleeping late" or "slacking off." Their concern that "flextime employees" won't have enough time at the office to collaborate with coworkers also falls away. Finally, CWWs are easier for bosses to remember and build into the work calendar -- managers no longer have to balance multiple employee schedules or ad-hoc arrangements.
Because of these advantages, it may be easier to negotiate for a CWW than for other types of flexible work arrangements. Then, once your boss gets comfortable with your use of a CWW, you can use this credibility to negotiate for more extensive work flexibility.
A Huge Win-Win!
Employees get a day off every two weeks which they can use for long weekends, more productive errands and more relaxed family time. Employers get a more predictable flexible work arrangement that makes employees happy while minimizing disruptions.
Do you have experience with a compressed work week? Any thoughts? Let's discuss in the comments section.