Four-Day Work Weeks Clock-in New Popularity
Let’s play hooky. Every week.
With gas prices making the commute increasingly expensive — and since you’ve got so many important things to do anyway — why not skip a day of work on a regular basis? You’ll have more time for painting your nails, catching a beauty rest, walking the dog, watching those episodes of Oprah you TiVoed, and of course, shopping.
Think it’s just a dream? Well, think again! A four-day work week may be closer than you realize.
Fuel prices have steadily climbed for the past several years, and it’s beginning to have a real impact on everyone’s pocketbook. This week, the average gas price in Cincinnati is $3.64 (it’s $3.68 nationally), up from $2.97 a year ago. And while prices may have stabilized recently, they still clearly are affecting everyone’s bottom line.
Fortunately, many companies are sympathetic to this cash crunch and have begun considering ways to ease the strain on their employees. One of the most popular ideas, and possibly the most practical, is the four-day work week. Instead of working five eight-hour workdays, this means you only visit the office four times a week, but for 10 hours at a time. Longer days, yes, but fewer of them.
This solution is more or less a win-win for everyone because your company doesn’t lose work time during the week, and you don’t get a pay cut for playing hooky every Friday.
According to a national survey of 300 companies, 24 percent of businesses already offer a four-day-work week and another 22 percent are planning to do so in the next six months.
Locally, the managers at Kentucky Rebuild Corporation in Independence, Ky., decided earlier this summer to change their schedule to four 10-hour days. “A couple of weeks ago, when the gas prices kept going up everyday, the guys started saying, ‘this is killing us,'” engineering manager Jimmy Trusty says.
Likewise, the University of Cincinnati, one of the area’s largest employers, started a pilot program this summer to see if a shorter work week means fuel savings for employees. Running from July 7 through Aug. 29, the program has many full-time employees working four 10-hour days — though the new off day may be any day of the week.
Certainly this approach doesn’t work well for everyone, as some businesses require five-day-work weeks to be available to clients and customers. But even some of those companies are considering staggered schedules where half the office works Monday through Thursday and the other half, Tuesday through Friday.
But wait, it gets better. Why play hooky once a week, when you could do it everyday? The same survey found that 34 percent of companies currently allow employees to telecommute from home, and that another 24 percent are considering this in the next six months. You’ve always wanted to wear those new jammies to work, haven’t you?
Not sure your boss is so generous? Businesses are also considering several other options including increasing mileage reimbursement for business-related travel, raising car allowance provisions, subsidizing public transportation costs, encouraging and rewarding ride-sharing, and offering incentives such as prepaid gas cards for perfect attendance or top performance.
One thing is pretty sure though: you’re not likely to get a raise to help handle the higher cost of gas. Employers have also been burdened by these escalating gas prices, which means they’ll shy away from the higher taxes, greater 401(k) matches and larger bonus payments that come with increasing pay.
So while you’re enjoying your extra day of freedom, you may want to spend it more at home and less at the mall.
Photo: Courtesy of IstockPhoto