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Run My Business With a 4-Day Work Week?

Run My Business With a 4-Day Work Week?

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

July 02, 2010

A reader writes:

As a future employer (I hope!), I have an idea that I’ve been kicking around in my mind for awhile. I feel that a five-day work week is stifling and that people in general would be happier with a four-day work week at approximately 32 hours a week.

However, in my scenario, this would be considered full-time: such employees would qualify for benefits through the company, and the wages (much of the initial staff will be exempt; however, I would apply this to hourly workers as well) would be roughly equivalent to working full-time. I believe in the living wage and it would be important to me to do right by my employees.

Is this just pie-in-the-sky thinking? Is it feasible to run a company like that, provided that the CEO is not making $5 million a year (in any for-profit business I owned I would have salary caps, I think, but this particular adventure would be a non-profit, so the salary caps kind of come with the territory anyway)? Do you think this would be reasonable, and welcomed?

Can it work? Absolutely. Will it work? That depends.

Things to think about:

If you’re going to shave off 20% of the standard work time, are you going to expect your employees to work harder/smarter in order to achieve the results that another organization of the same staff size would get with five-day weeks? With a strong culture, strong management practices, and great people, it’s feasible that you could achieve that, but you’d need to have a plan for how you’re going to build that culture, find those people, and achieve that high bar.

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