It's Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., the weather is great and you’d rather be hiking in the mountains than sitting at your desk. Do you think that you’re at your most productive? Probably not — and that is one reason why companies across the country are offering employees a shorter workweek during the summer.

The topic was covered recently in an article in The Washington Post:

“In an informal survey of personnel directors at Fortune 1000 companies conducted for The Washington Post by the Corporate Executive Board in Rosslyn, nearly half said their business has instituted a compressed workweek during the summer or is considering doing so, often by allowing workers to put in longer hours Monday through Thursday in exchange for taking off all or part of Friday.”

Some employees work an extra 30 minutes to an hour each day Monday through Thursday and then get off work around lunchtime on Friday. Other employees work four 10-hour shifts and have Friday off completely. A three-day weekend every week in the summer allows employees to have more leisure time, which can have a positive impact on productivity once Monday morning rolls around.

It has been more than a decade since I held a traditional job, but even way back in the late 1990s, my employer offered some employees the ability to work four 10-hour shifts. Although I managed a computer help desk at the time, there were other staff members who didn’t take advantage of the four-day workweek, and they covered my position on Fridays.

While some organizations are offering a four-day workweek as a benefit to employees, others are doing it out of necessity. Government agencies have been hit hard fiscally in the past few years. Official unemployment figures have shown several months in a row with job losses at all levels of government. The town neighboring mine, Gilbert, Ariz., recently instituted a four-day workweek to help shave expenses.

“Officials expect the schedule to trim operating expenses including utilities and overtime and provide longer business hours for residents who otherwise might have to miss work to visit Town Hall.” Source: AZCentral.com

There are several reasons for a four-day workweek, and while I loved the option, I know that not everyone is a fan. Very few of my coworkers took advantage of the compressed workweek. Some had family constraints that made being out of the house from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. difficult while others felt that it made sense to put in more face time at the office. The concern about face time was also mentioned in The Washington Post article, “Workers who fear losing status — or even their job — if they are not always around are often suspicious of the idea.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on a compressed workweek. If you had the option to work an alternate schedule so that you could have Fridays off, would you?

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