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THE FOUR DAY WORK WEEK

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 25, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Is working at home a viable alternative to the office or just another perk?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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The four day work week has been back in the news lately. I am hearing of a lot of companies promoting the concept, whereby an employee works four days in the office and one at home or wherever he/she desires. The theory is to offer workers the freedom to work from home as opposed to the office which is commonly viewed as a pressure cooker. I never did buy into this concept and see it more as an excuse for employees to screw off. The only time I might accept it is when an employee is sick, particularly with an infectious disease, and it would serve the office better for that person to stay at home and not infect the other workers. Then again, we might get too many people calling in sick, but I digress.

The concept of telecommuting is an old one and something we would like to reward our more trusted employees with, but if you establish the precedent, others will claim unfair favoritism which may open Pandora’s Box in terms of legal ramifications. To overcome this, you will have to demonstrate the trusted worker is more productive than others, and since there is typically no metrics in this regards, it is difficult to substantiate the claim.

The problem as I see the four day work week is one of perspective. Most of today’s younger workers think in terms of hours worked, not what is produced during the period. This is a common flaw in today’s work mentality regardless of your occupation. As any true manager will tell you, it’s not the time you put in, it’s the work product you put out. Today, workers are more inclined to watch the clock as opposed to what they are supposed to be producing.

Assuming we allow employees to work at home, how do we substantiate the employee has been working? Blind faith? For those workers who make extensive use of computers, some simple software can be devised to monitor computer activity and gather statistics; e.g., number of keystrokes/mouse clicks, execution of programs, idle time, swapper file activity, data transmission over the Internet, etc. When you compare such statistics between the home and the office, it would be relatively easy to determine who is really working at home and who is abusing the system.

In its purest form, I really don’t have a problem with the concept of the four day work week, but it is ultimately based on worker trust, and I guess I have seen too many workers abuse a privilege like this over the years. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what I know about dogs that makes me an expert, it’s what I know about this dog that makes me an expert.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ARE RESTAURANTS BEING BULLIED? – Is government bureaucracy chocking restaurants unnecessarily?

LAST TIME:  THE MOST STRESSFUL PLACE TO LIVE? – Is the Tampa Bay area as bad as it is being labeled?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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2 Responses to “THE FOUR DAY WORK WEEK”

  1. Alton Walston said

    The four day work week is a great concept, but only when followed by strict program implementation. In my world (Aviation), we worked 4 ten hour days not one at home. and the days we worked were rotated so that we covered all seven day of the week. At work there was a crew 7 days a week. The measure was how much work was produced and as long as our schedule was on time and the quality of the work went out the door to the customer, It worked fine. However, even when there are home workers there are measures to take to ensure that the work is done, simply by what is turned in. My daughter-in-law is the head accountant for a major oil company. Many days she works from home usually doing payroll. If she does not do the work the paychecks don’t go out. There are pros and con on both sides of the question. Like any other system, it depends on the integrity of those who use or abuse it. Regards ole Blake

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “I have to confess … the only “four day work week” I’ve heard about is where you work four days, 10 hours, and that’s your schedule. My son-in-law is a cop now, and his force works Sun-Wed or Wed-Sat (Wed is the overlap day, where training is conducted on one or the other of the shifts. My father-in-law worked for the VA in Muskogee OK (MANY years ago now) and they eventually went to a 4-day work week, with you picking the day you would prefer to have off each week – and that became your schedule. As you might expect, a lot of people want Monday or Friday so they have 3 day weekends all the time. The management at VA told them that not everyone could do that because while the employees only worked a 4 day week, the OFFICE had to stay open for business FIVE days. My F-i-L chose WEDNESDAY as his day. When I asked why he did that, he said simply, “think about it for a minute. I work two days, then I get a day off to recover. I work two days, then I get two days to recover. The Wednesday off I get to do things during the day when everyone else is working. AND…the government regulations preclude the agency from requiring me to travel more than TWO days (my work schedule) away from home.” Now, at the time, he was in his late 60’s and was preparing to retire – but he never made it – he died while still employed. Anyway, the only comment he made was that the 10 hour days were killers for someone his age because they were really more than that (add the lunch hour, add commute times – which for him were small).”

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