Since businesses face constant demand changes and struggle to keep employee morale high, there’s been considerable discussion around flexible scheduling options, one of which is a four-day workweek.

More and more companies have started to try out shorter workweeks, and many employees love this schedule type. According to a survey from GoodHire, 83% of 4,000 US workers want a four-day workweek. Recently, California proposed a bill to mandate a four-day workweek for all workers at large companies.

Although politicians and organizations have expressed their support for a shorter workweek, deciding whether to implement it and how is actually up to each employer. Some reduce working hours from 40 to 32, while others compress 40 hours into 4 workdays instead of 5. The latter option is called a 4/10 work schedule.

What is a 4/10 work schedule?

A 4/10 work schedule is a compressed schedule in which employees work four 10-hour days to get 3 days off every week.

Working hours of a 4/10 work schedule
Working hours of a 4/10 work schedule

Other names you may see are a 4-day workweek or a compressed workweek.

Keep in mind that the term “4-day workweek” also includes a 32-hour workweek.

A standard workweek includes five 8-hour days per week, 40 hours in total. A compressed workweek still includes 40 hours, but employees work fewer days, longer hours each day, and get extra days off.

4/10 work schedule example

Below is an example of a common 4/10 work schedule:

  • Monday: 8 am – 6 pm
  • Tuesday: 8 am – 6 pm
  • Wednesday: 8 am – 6 pm
  • Thursday: 8 am – 6 pm
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: OFF
A 4/10 work schedule for businesses opening from 8 am to 6 pm
A 4/10 work schedule for businesses opening from 8 am to 6 pm

Variations of a 4/10 work schedule

Flexible 4/10 work schedule

A flexible 4/10 schedule may allow employees to choose:

  • Day off: Employees can choose to take the day off on Monday or Friday, or another weekday.
  • Start and end time of workdays: Employees can choose to start at 10 and end at 8, or 7 to 5, or whatever time frame that works for them.

4/10 shifts

Some businesses need to stay open during standard business hours, from Mon to Fri.

To ensure coverage, you can implement 4/10 shifts and divide your employees into groups. 2 groups both work 4/10 shifts, but Group 1 can take Mondays off while Group 2 takes Fridays off.

4/10 work schedule pros and cons

Debates over the effectiveness of a 4/10 work schedule are nothing new. When deciding whether to implement this schedule, it’s smart to weigh its pros and cons.

Pros

52 extra days off

A 4/10 work schedule gives employees 52 extra days off per year. Those weekdays off are attractive because employees can:

  • Have more personal time, family time, and social time.
  • Save money on daycare on the days off.
  • Schedule appointments and handle personal matters.
  • Avoid using their paid time off (PTO).

Save time and money on commuting

With the extra days off, employees can save time and money on commuting to and from work. They can avoid traffic jams and expensive fuel.

Improve employee productivity & job satisfaction

Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, implemented a 4 four-day workweek and their employees reported better work-life balance, decreased stress levels, and increased productivity.

By working fewer days, some employees are more focused on their work. They want to get their job done before the day off comes, which leads to improved productivity. It seems that the longer weekends have compensated for the increased working hours.

Attract talents & improve employee retention

Many employees prioritize flexible work schedules when they consider job options. A 4/10 work schedule may appeal to those who love longer weekends and willing to work longer hours. If your company offers this schedule type, it might help with recruitment and retaining current employees.

Cons

Aren’t 52 extra days off appealing enough? Well, not really. A 4/10 work schedule is a trade-off. It’s not for everyone. Some love those 52 extra days off and will do anything to have it, while others hate working longer hours.

Longer workdays

Some employees may never get used to working 10 hours per day. The extra hours employees put in might not be as productive as you think.

A shorter workweek means employees need to cram their workload into 4 days. Even though the working hours are actually the same as a standard 5-day workweek, the pressure to finish their work before the day off can get overwhelming.

Less personal time on workdays

As workdays increase from 8 hours to 10 hours, employees don’t have much time left for themselves or their family on workdays. This can disrupt their social life, family life, childcare, daily routine, etc.

Not for all businesses

Businesses that need employees available during standard business hours (customer support, hospitals, manufacturers, etc.) may need to implement a 4/10 schedule more flexibly. For example, they can split their staff into 2 teams that take different days off. This means more scheduling work and staffing problems.

Employee conflicts

A 4/10 schedule may not work for back-office or support teams, so many employers only implement this schedule for only certain departments in their businesses. Employees who also want the longer weekends, but aren’t offered, may think it’s unfair. Also, there might be schedule conflicts between teams that work 5 days and teams that work 4 days.

4/10 work schedule infographic: what is a 4/10 schedule, its pros and cons

Is working 10 hours a day too long?

The effects of a four-day workweek or a compressed workweek are still controversial. While companies like Perpetual Guardian and associations like Alda found that a shorter workweek led to increased productivity and employee well-being, multiple companies said the opposite.

In an article on Forbes, Russell Reeder, CEO of Infrascale, said, “It’s not realistic to think if everyone had an extra day off, they’d achieve work-life balance or be able to get all their chores done on their day off.”

The Wellcome Trust, a £26bn London-based science research foundation, dropped its plan to trial a four-day workweek, saying it was too operationally complex to implement and unfair on some staff.

Not everyone is comfortable with working 10 hours a day. While longer weekends make some happy and motivated, others find those 10 hours exhausting.

Research suggests that the average employee is only productive for about 3 hours per day. Plus, long working hours can cause fatigue, stress, and illness.

So, is working 10 hours a day too long? It depends.

Communicate with your employees about this type of schedule and see how they feel. Adjust your scheduling strategies and workload to support your employees. Try out other types of work schedules to see what fits best. That way you can run your business smoothly while keeping employee engagement high.

How to implement a 4/10 work schedule for employees

You’ve discussed with your employees and decided that you’ll implement a 4/10 work schedule for your business. What should you do next?

Decide how employees get the extra day off: Determine if you want to open your business all 5 days a week or close it on a certain weekday.

If you want to open your business 5 days a week, you need to divide your employees into groups and each group takes a different extra day off.

For example, you divide your staff into Group 1 and Group 2. Group 1 gets an extra day off on Friday, while Group 2 gets an extra day off on Monday.

divide 4/10 shifts for 2 groups

Some businesses allow employees to choose their day off. Most employees prefer Monday or Friday to get the longer weekends, but some may want a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. This gives a sense of freedom and flexibility for employees, but it also means more complicated scheduling work.

If you give all employees the same extra day off, then your business will be closed on that day. Scheduling work is much easier. You simply need to decide which weekday all employees are off and your business is closed.

To avoid employees feeling like you’ve imposed an exhausting schedule on them, you can offer the 4/10 schedule as optional.

What are the alternatives to a 4/10 work schedule?

A compressed workweek has some variations. The most common ones are 9/80 and 5-4/9.

In a 9/80 work schedule, employees work eight 8-hour days, one 8-hour day, and take 1 extra day off over a 2-week period. They still work 80 hours every 2 weeks, but the number of workdays is 9 instead of 10. Employees take every other Friday off.

The 5-4/9 work schedule is quite similar to the 9/80 schedule. Employees still work 9-hour days and get 1 extra day off every 2 weeks, but they can alternate between a 5-day workweek and a 4-day workweek.

FAQs for a 4/10 work schedule

How do you handle overtime on a 4/10 work schedule?

A 4/10 schedule still includes 40 working hours per week. If employees work for more than 40 hours, those extra hours will be counted as overtime.

What’s the difference between a 4/10 work schedule vs a standard 9-5 schedule?

Both include 40 working hours per week. Both offer the same salary and benefits.

4/10 work schedule: Employees work 4 days a week, 10 hours each day, and get 3 days off per week.

9-5 work schedule: Employees work 5 days a week, 8 hours each day, and get 2 days off per week.

difference between a 4/10 work schedule vs 9-5 schedule

If working 2 extra hours every day is beneficial for your company, a 4/10 schedule may be a good fit. For example, if you run a call center, being available outside of standard hours can be a plus.

What’s the difference between a 4/10 work schedule vs a 9/80 work schedule

Both include 80 working hours over 2 weeks.

4/10 work schedule: Employees work 8 days over 2 weeks, 10 hours each day, and take every Friday off.

9/80 work schedule: Employees work eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day over 2 weeks, and take every other Friday off.

difference between a 4/10 work schedule vs a 9/80 work schedule

Should you implement a 4/10 work schedule for your business?

The answer is still “it depends”. There’s no one-size-fits-all schedule type that works for every business. Each schedule type has its pros and cons.

Your team may love or hate a 4/10 work schedule. Communicate with your employees and find out how this schedule works for them. Weigh the pros and cons and see if it works for your operations. Experiment and you’ll find the right types of work schedules for your business.

Manage your work schedules and save time using Camelo. From a single app, you can create any schedule type (including a 4/10 schedule), notify your employees, and track their work hours. Try it free today.

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