Compressed work weeks: a summer perk for some

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While not every company can offer workers shorter work weeks all year round, some are allowing staff to choose shorter weeks to enjoy the summer. At engine manufacturer Mercury Marine in Wisconsin, corporate staff members are allowed to fit their 40 hours’ work in four and a half days so they can leave early on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"It has become one of the most valuable arrangements or benefits that we offer folks," Mercury Marine’s VP of HR Denise Devereaux told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We don't see a drop in productivity. In fact, I think the exact opposite occurs. People are so excited about being able to have that half day off they're extremely focused in their regular hours."
On the other hand, when the State of Utah tried compressed, four-day work weeks in 2009, it found that it didn’t work for all departments. After about 18 months of experimentation, it rolled back the scheme, but some departments continue allowing workers to compress their 40 hours, reports Wendy Peterson, SPHR, who is the state’s deputy director in the Department of Human Resource Management.

“I believe it was very successful,” Peterson told HRM America. “Many agencies continue to allow a 4/10 schedule (four days, ten hours a day) for their employees.”
Brian Carr is spokesperson for the Clean Air Campaign in Georgia, which has previously offered incentives and advice to companies considering compressed work weeks. He said the main problem for employers was planning schedules so that client-facing roles were filled when necessary.

Of the 30 staff members at the campaign, most opt for telework since they have to be available five days a week. However, of those that do use compressed weeks, the organization finds that less time is wasted during working days, which has been a major plus.

“What we’ve found is that when we have had compressed weeks, one of the things we see is they use their day off for things like doctors’ appointments and errands…so they don’t have to take time out of their days for that,” he said.

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