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  • 1.  A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 24 days ago

    The Wall Street Journal (21 Feb) reports that companies testing a 4-day work week found sharp drops in worker turnover and absenteeism while largely maintaining productivity. Keeping annual salaries the same for 32-hour weeks sounds like a self-inflicted wound for business; however, companies responded by reducing meetings (a common need mentioned here) and travel. It reminds me of co-workers who cut back to half-time for family reasons and found themselves getting just as much done.<o:p></o:p>

    What's your experience say about this?<o:p></o:p>

    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    Columbus MS

  • 2.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 22 days ago

    Dear William, I agree. Your performance should be measured by goals and results, not time sitting in front of a computer. As a professor, I have some flexibility and believe I am highly productive. Bad side: more productive, more committed... you have to balance family time-personal time-working time.


    Andres Guzman D.Eng., MEng, Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor

  • 3.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 22 days ago

    I recently went to a 4-day work week of my own volition.  I spent over 20 years at a company where I regularly worked in excess of 40 hours per week, working Monday through Friday and a lot of weekends.  I eventually burnt out and moved to another company where my regular schedule is Monday through Thursday, 32 hours per week, but I usually get maybe an hour or two more on those days, so it's more like 36 hours per week, but I do get Fridays off.  While that is not the norm for the company (most of the rest of the folks work Monday through Friday), they support me in my reduced work schedule and encourage me to enjoy my Fridays off.  I have worked an occasional Friday when there have been urgent deadlines, but for the most part have enjoyed the time off.  I am extremely productive on Monday through Thursday and wish I had tried to implement this schedule years ago.  Note I do get paid for the hours I work, so if I work only 32 hours, I get paid for only 32 hours, but it's doable with my life.

    Angela Hintz P.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Project Engineer
    Buffalo NY

  • 4.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 22 days ago

    I have a very similar experience with Angela.  I worked for my previous employer for 28 years where early on I worked about 55 hours per week and later about 45-50.  Towards the end I was feeling very burnt out.  I resigned when they want to transfer me to another location.  So I took 6 months off and then went back to work for a company that allowed me to work 30-40 hours a week on an hourly basis. I still work about 35-40 hours a week and I am less productive as before, given the reduced hours and age, but the stress is a lot less and I even have time to teach a class at Boise State University each Fall.  

    I think the stress reduction has led to better health and more enjoyment.  I also love the extra time with my family.

    Christopher Andrews P.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Construction Engineer
    Meridian ID

  • 5.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 21 days ago

    During my previous summer job as a Student Research Assistant, I decided that every week, I would not work on Wednesdays. This worked very well for me, because doing the job fully online allowed me to return home after two semesters of classes, and catch up with my family and health appointments. From there, I could spend Wednesdays working on a hobby I did not have time for right after the job ended.

    This arrangement also worked well for the department, because my role did not necessitate 40-hour weeks anyway. We had weekly meetings, and throughout the evolution of my work, I remained focused on completing everything I was given at my own pace.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 6.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 14 days ago

    Great topic.  I think we're seeing a divergence of schedules.  Besides one firm that reduced the weekly commitment across all staff by a few hours (still well above 32), I haven't heard of a reduced work week implemented on a company-wide scale in CE.  However, it seems increasingly common for individual employees to request and be granted alternative schedules.  In rare cases, the option for reduced hours is now enshrined in the employee handbook, making it a more effective tool for recruitment.  For me, it comes down to an individual balance of work stress, personal commitments, and preference.

    I work a 32-hour week, distributed across five shorter days rather than four 8-hour days.  I am generally at my desk through normal business hours, but I take one or two long breaks throughout the day for professional activities, personal email, and miscellaneous reading.  People are sometimes surprised not only that my firm agreed to this benefit, but that I wanted it in the first place, without taking a full day off.  When I go home, I like to have a clean separation not only from work, but from professional activities and my personal email--so it made the most sense for me.  Prior to going on a reduced schedule, I was squeezing in around 10-15 hours a week of non-work activities on a 40-hour work week, getting home late most days, and feeling very hemmed in by my schedule.  I have a lot more flexibility on a 32--and I still have time to cook!

    One concern is that, even if salary is prorated, a 20% reduction in hours represents a 20% increase in overhead.  The hope is that the gains in productivity and retention more than make up for that.  Remote work and "hoteling" may be changing this paradigm anyway.

    The SEA-MW SE3 Committee discusses daily and weekly schedule flexibility in our 2022 publication Work Flexibility Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in the Metropolitan Washington Region, which is available through this link.  The document is targeted at DC/MD/VA structural engineering consultants, but much of the data applies more broadly.  Another great resource is the 2020 NCSEA SE3 Brief on Work Flexibility.

    Christian Parker P.E., M.ASCE
    Structural Project Engineer
    Washington DC

  • 7.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 12 days ago

    This might be too much to hope for, but a 4 day work-week would also be a good time for the industry at large to consider alternatives to the "fee for service" model that causes most of us to view our work in terms of billable hours, rather than work completed. One of the things being brought up repeatedly is "if we go to a 4 day work week, then you are working less hours and we will bill less time to the client". In certain parts of our industry, viewing our jobs as a number of hours we are expected to bill rather than as a project we are trying to complete causes a lot of people to drag their time out, and in the case of this topic, causes us to need to find ways to justify how to continue paying people and billing clients when the almighty "billable hours" are dropping by 20%. If more projects were to move in the "lump sum" direction of payment, it may be possible that we learn that the work is completed just as quickly as before and that people simply have more time back that isn't being wasted. Im sure there are trade offs I am not aware of but changing our perception of how we are compensated for our work is going to be a related issue to a large scale 4 day work week implementation. 

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 8.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 12 days ago

    I think there is some truth to to the adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. I can also see parallels with "quiet quitting" - a term I dislike- when applied in a positive mode. 

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 9.  RE: A 4-Day Work Week?

    Posted 8 days ago

    Bill, we have that option available to everyone but it has been rarely used. We still expect a 40-hours of work for their salary. My thought is that for the staff with children a 10-hour work day seems to be too much.

    Christopher Wallen Aff.M.ASCE
    Vice President
    Dynamic Solutions, LLC
    Knoxville TN